Let Me Just Check…

As some of you no doubt know (and if not why not!? I’ve blogged about it enough) we’ve just got back from America. Well, not just, but recently enough for me not to have prepared any new blog posts lately  – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. So here’s one that I did the first time we whizzed off to see Kate’s clan over in Huston back in 2015. As you’ll see there was a different guy in charge back then so I’m safe from abuse by Twitter if Nelly The Elephant doesn’t like this blog.

Pardon – oh, Nelly The Elephant? Trump, Trump, Trump. Really, don’t you pay attention to anything I write? I might as well delete all my previous blogs right now!

Anyway, as I was saying – obviously this time things went according to plan (yeah right, you know me too well!) but first time? Here is, Let Me Just Check…

…Yeah, passport, tickets all present and correct.
So, now I’ve just got to check in, on line – I’ve joined the technocological age.
What’s this? How many bags? I don’t bloody know, I ain’t finished packing yet! We’ll call it two eh? What’s the worst that could happen? Well they might not let me on the plane for a start. I better make sure there really is only sodding two then! I wonder where the passport is?
No, I’m not getting stressed.
Eddie Black said last night I ought to allow more time to get to Heathrow. He can’t possibly be right. Can he? Now what did I do with them tickets?
Hang on. What’s that muffled screaming sound?
Well perhaps I shouldn’t have packed Kate – I only wanted to make sure I knew where she was. That’s more than I can say for the passport and tickets! I’ll swear I had them only a few minutes ago.
She’s not happy! Apparently it was a bit cramped. That suitcase ain’t as big as it looks. Perhaps I put the tickets in there too. I’ll unpack it again and take a look.
Do I need those shorts? It’ll be hot. I’ve taken them out and put them back three times now. Can’t say I like wearing them, not really my style. But still, the passport may be in the pocket – I’d better take them.
No really, I’m not too stressed. I wonder where the tickets are?
She’s still going on. Honestly! I had to unpack her stuff to get her in the case. O.k. I was going to leave most of it behind  – does she really need more than two tee shirts! There are after all only two cases we can take now.
I wonder if she’s hidden my passport out of spite?
Thinking about it, who the hell wants to know how many cases I’m taking anyway. British Airways? The U.S. government? Barack bloody Obama? Perhaps he’s got the tickets!
There’s only twelve hours left to sort this mess out. If I say two cases, does it really mean two? Surely there must be a bit of leeway in the system! You know what they’re like in American immigration, I could end up on death row!
I swear I had my passport. I remember printing out the tickets. What was the problem with the old days when they sent them through the post? There was never all this cowing trouble!
NO I’M NOT FUCKING STRESSED!!!!!

Advertisements

Land of the acronym

So here I am another year older. I am now officially as old as God’s dog. Bloody hell, who’d have thought it? There are, of course, people older than me who would scoff and call me a spring chicken. And they would be quite justified in that. But just let me have a little reminisce before the ageing process goes too far and I end up in some depressing institution dribbling into my soup.

Yesterday – the day of the sixty second anniversary of my birth – I was lucky enough to spend at COTA. Yes, I’m in the good old U,S of A, land of the acronym ruled over by POTUS and FLOTUS. From listening to some over here the former could stand for President Orange, Totally Useless Shit. Others may have it as, Prosperity Over Trumps Utopian States. Just depends who you listen to. It’s a bit like Brexit without other countries being involved.

Anyway – COTA – Circuit Of The Americas, for those who don’t know about such things. Yes, I treated myself to the American Formula One Grand Prix. I’m over here visiting family, so it would be rude not to really, wouldn’t it. So resplendent in Red Bull team shirt and cowboy hat I ventured forth. In the rain! Now I should explain that when it rains here it does actually rain. It comes down all at once in galvanised buckets. Before you know it you’re up to your wheel trims in water. Pardon? No of course we don’t walk anywhere, that’s just not the American way. 


As luck would have it once we reached the circuit, God’s dog must have been looking down. The skies cleared, the sun shone and apart from Max Verstappen being cruelly robbed at the end I thoroughly enjoyed my treat.

Which led me to thinking. Over the years, who stand out in the memory as sportsmen I have seen in the flesh. No, not naked madam, I’m not some sort of changing room voyeur. It’s a bit like those lists you get on Facebook. I’m sure you have your own. These are mine.

Top of the list has to be The Holy Trinity. Yes, Best, Law and Charlton all on the pitch at the same time. I have to say that most of my footballing experiences were down at West Bromwich Albion’s ground. Back in the day that was hard enough to get to, let alone what must surely have been a three day trek to Old Trafford. Strangely they drew two apiece. United were losing in the first half two – nil. At half time Matt Busby must have said give the ball to George. They did, and someone sprinkled magic football dust on the ground. Bestie swayed and shimmied as only he could. Law headed in and Bobby Charlton struck a ball (not the flimsy plastic things of today) from twenty yards out which hit the back of the net like a thunderbolt.

At the same ground I saw that other trinity, albeit individually, Hurst, Moore and Peters. In another two all draw I witnessed first hand why Martin Peters was called ‘The Ghost.’ Across came the ball, no one was there until I swear that a trap door opened in the ground, out popped our man and headed home.

Cricket. Ah yes. On Saturday mornings Dad went to work. In doing so he had to pass Edgbaston, home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. He’d throw me out on the way and pick me up coming back. I saw the legend which was Godfrey Evans playing for the Cavaliers in the swan song of his wicket keeping career. Other great names from the past, the two Fred’s, Trueman and Titmus, Bob Willis, Dennis Amis, Farouk Engineer, Gary Sobers. So many, but the one that stood out for me was the great West Indies player, Clive Lloyd. I always loved watching him, such a charismatic figure and I even played my own part in a test match, England v West Indies. The match, on Saturday as usual, was underway. All was going well until play was suddenly stopped. The crowd began to boo and jeer. I could make out cries of ‘sit down!’ through the din. Clive Lloyd was waving his arms, seemingly in my direction. Some idiot, it appeared, had wandered in front of the sight screen – a huge white board which shielded the ball from the crowd so that the batsman could see it coming. ‘How was the match?’ asked Dad when he picked me up. ‘Great.’ I replied, wondering if I blushed as much then as I had when I sat down with indecent haste that sunny afternoon.

At Cosford in 1981, Sebastian Coe broke the world indoor 800m record. I was there with my Dad and brother. Dad had been a racing cyclist in his youth. Both of them ran marathons for ‘fun.’ That gene thankfully missed me!

And so, back to the Grand Prix, at Zandvoort in the era of Mansell and Senna but perhaps more memorably my first at Brands Hatch, not perhaps for the race but for getting there. My Morris 1000 broke down on the way, but after a quick pit stop (and hastily joining the AA) I arrived in time to see Emerson Fittipaldi beat Jackie Stewart. The next year at Silverstone nearly half the field were taken out when Jody Scheckter crashed at the end of the first lap. What names though! Some still here but most long gone in pursuit of their sport. Hill, Peterson, Lauda, Hulme , Amon, Reutemann, Revson, Oliver, Ickx, Cevert and the never to be forgotten Jean-Pierre Beltois if only for the fact that I got his autograph even though I had no idea who he was, except that he must be a driver because he wore overalls.

So – thanks for the birthday wishes and allowing a sad old git to reminisce for a bit. 

I wonder what I’ll do next?

I hate to mention it, but there’s another vote coming up…

Hello again.
Nice to see you.
Oh sorry – I really didn’t mean to do that in a Bruce Forsyth voice.
I’m not good at impressions.
What?
You’d noticed.
Thanks.
Anyway, how are things with you?
Really?
Oh dear.
They’re protruding by how much!?
Surely you can get some cream for that?
I should ask the chemist.
Pardon?
How am I?
Well funny you should ask.

It’s like this, remember the…

What did you say?
Look, I know you were only asking out of politeness and didn’t really want an answer, but I thought that seeing as you brought it up…

Remember the play wot I wrote…

No, now you mention it, I know I can’t ‘do‘ Ernie Wise either, but this play thing…

Not the one I did for the radio, no. It turns out that the BBC don’t posterknow a good thing when it’s staring them in the face – bastards!

I was talking about pm. com, the one that I wrote for the stage.
Yes, it was a few years ago, I’m glad you remember.
Well I only got someone to go and do it!

Yeah!
How about that then?
Honestly – I’ve never seen anyone so underwhelmed.
I thought you might be pleased.

Sorry, you thought what?
That it would just be,’something else for me to keep banging on about.

There’s no need!

But let me finish telling you, ‘cos you’ll never guess what.
I’m in it!
Cool or what?
In a purely am-dramish sort of way.
So I’m line learning.

I knew you’d say that!
Just because I wrote it doesn’t mean that I know it off by heart, no.
I have to practice my art.
Now I’m a thespian.
Getting used to the smell of the greasepaint, the roar of the crowd.
Of course I couldn’t compare myself to Burton or Gielud, well not yet anyway.

Arise Sir Dave, I can picture it now.
Me and Madge.
Her with a sword in her hand.
What do you mean, ‘you wish you had a sword right now‘?
I’ll take that to mean that you don’t want a ticket then.

They’re only three pounds.
I know – cheap as chips!
I’ve got friends on Facebook see.
Surprising as that sounds, yes I have.
And I was thinking that if any of them, in say Oz or Trumpton, fancied popping across for the evening that the low price of entry may be of benefit.
Help out with the air fare.
And the airport taxes.
See how thoughtful I am?

Now there was no call for name calling, ‘one act short of a scene!
Honestly, some people.

Afraid that we can’t put them up though.
My mate Nige is coming over from Ludlow and he’s already claimed the couch. Perhaps you could help by…

Oh! I see. They can **** right off to where?

Isn’t that the chain Lenny Henry advertises?

17342786_10154627669764086_1081957200397871344_n

Anyway, it’s a political drama – of a sort.
About the ‘Countrywide Reform Alliance Party.
Well in these days of uncertainty and surprise after Brexit, Trump and Leicester City, I thought it best to concentrate on the issues that concern us all.
The cost of beer and football admission prices for example – that sort of thing. Hard hitting and factual.

Pardon?

It spells what!

Perhaps I’d better have a rethink then, eh?

Something is happening…

Things are happening.

Apart from in the country which should and probably shall forevermore be known as Trumpton, that is.

I thought you might like to know.

Oh really? It makes a pleasant change to hear that you’re so keen to know what’s going on in my life, may I say?

Sick of elections and referendums eh! Can’t say I blame you. Anyway, this has nothing to do with politics.

No, honest! I mean it! Not much anyway.

‘Cos like I said, things are happening.

DOGNAPPED! as I told you a few weeks back is in the final of The People’s Book Prize next year.

Sorry, I know I keep ‘banging on about it,’ as you put it, but someone has to publicise it and if it ain’t me then…

Pardon?

Yes, thanks for sharing, reblogging and retweeting it. I do appreciate it honest.

Anyway. I just wanted to say that the next book, IN THE DOGHOU|SE! is shortly due for release.

Yay!

You will review it won’t you?rascal-soaked

Thanks.

Here’s a picture of Rascal just to whet your appetite.Yes, Ian’s done a fantastic job illustrating again hasn’t he?

And there’s more.

Yes there is.

In the great tradition of Ernie Wise I have wrote a play. Two in fact.

One for radio – just giving a heads up if anyone from the BBC is looking in. No, I can’t tell you what it’s about – I’d have to shoot you! But it is very good, I’ve read it as well as written it!

The other is a stage play for The Comedy Theatre Group, a local amateur band I joined up with recently. It’s meant to be a political satire, but judging by recent real life events you might not recognise it as such!

If I had released it a few months back you’d have said it was totally unrealistic. In the light of what’s been going on you might now think that it’s not mad enough!

Anyway, hopefully we can get it staged sometime around Easter.
See, I’m not just a pretty face.

Oh thanks, you never thought that I was! There’s no need! Why do you think I don’t post selfies on here!?

And then…

Yes, there is more.

You’re getting bored now? I’ll be quick then.

I’ve got a couple of speaking slots at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival at the end of January next year. I’ll tell you more a bit nearer the date, but if you can’t wait then take a look at http://wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk

I’m on Black Country Radio on Friday at 2p.m. That’s Dave Homer’s show and I’m going to tell him all I’ve just written down here – plus a bit more that I holding back for now.

So you’ll have to listen now won’t you, I know you don’t like to miss anything.

It’s 102.5 FM – see you there!

Never give up your green belt for anyone!

Methinks I doth protest too much.

But quite honestly it has to be done.
In the 37 years (is it really so long!?) since I moved to this little slice of heaven we have had to campaign against the Western Orbital Route, a quarry and an extension to our local airport.
Yes you can call me a NIMBY but I ain’t been on the losing side yet and if you’re so concerned you are quite welcome to put any of them in your backyard and see how you like it.

img_0522

So bring on the next.
Yes it’s another quarry.
Except it’s not really.
Confused?

Let me explain.
Once upon a time someone wanted to build houses on a strip of land on the edge the village, between the canal and the brook.
But it was designated green belt.
Bugger!

So that’s the end of that then.
All’s well that ends well.
Happy villagers and happy grazing sheep.
Everything’s back to normal.

But! Hold on a mo!
Here comes a developer with a cunning plan.
We’ll build a marina instead.
Perhaps a bit more aesthetically pleasing, row upon row of canal barges instead of row upon row of little boxes made of ticky tacky.

Well that splits the vote.
Some think it’s a good idea.
Some don’t.
Each to their own.
A bit like Brexit in minature.
And then there’s the punchline. ‘Of course we could always turn it into a travellers site or a quarry.

Suddenly a marina looks very attractive indeed.
No of course we won’t remove anything from the site. The sand we don’t want will be piled up as a barrier to stop the canal and the brook getting too jiggy jiggy with each other.

Come to think of it, isn’t that how they made Wales? The ancient Brits got forced ever westward by various European invaders taking their land with them until they came to the coast and had to pile it up into mountains. Back to Brexit again.

Anyway, I digress.
O.k. then – a marina – we’re not entirely chuffed but we’ll go with that.
Job’s a good ‘un.
Not everyone’s happy, but hey, you can’t please all of the people…

imag0208

And then – nothing!
Well, not quite.
The sheep are evicted for a start.
Whenever a deadline approaches where something has to be seen to be done there’s a sudden spurt of activity. A perimeter fence appears. Someone digs a trench and then refills it again. That sort of thing.

And then…
…out of the blue…
…except it’s been in the planning stages for ages…
…’Let’s turn it into a quarry!

What!!!
But you said you wouldn’t remove anything…
We know, but we were only kidding. Besides it’ll make us some money ‘cos we can’t actually afford to build a marina.

What!!!
Oh, hang on though, you can’t – it’s green belt see, protected. So stick that up your…
No it’s not. That status was lost when you said you wanted a marina.
But we only said we wanted a marina because you said…
Tough titty!

Shafted or what?
So, we are now mobilising the troops again.

Say No To The Quarry.

Look it up, it’s the name of our Facebook page.

And we certainly ought to fight that battle and win, so perhaps I ought to leave it there.

Except!
Oh, oh,‘ I can hear you mumbling, ‘he’s off again.

Yes I am, so bear with me.

There’s more sand in the pit at the local primary school than there is underneath that field.
Honestly, any self respecting quarry man wouldn’t even start his digger – it would cost too much in fuel. It’s on a flood plain for Gawd’s sake, they’d be pumping water out all day & all night!
So – you don’t think for one minute that after a few halfhearted scrapings in the ground they may give up and say,’hey, you know what – this isn’t green belt anymore, how about we build up the ground to the level of the canal and build some houses!?

Surely not.
Nobody could be that conniving surely, telling porkies to get their own way. See how the Brexit theme runs through this plot, or is that just the state of politics today?

Just a thought.

SAY NO TO THE QUARRY!

14364660_10154596077244850_9007459850713711531_n

There’s this job see…

I was out when they phoned the first time.

They left a message on the answer phone apparently.

As usual I never listened to it.

Well you don’t do you? It’s usually PPI, or double glazing, or that bloke from Sky I’m having a row with – still!

Then someone called round.

With a friend.

The neighbour told them I’d gone into town. He said they seemed a bit put out even though he’d said that he thought that I wouldn’t be long.

In fact, he told me later that he thought he’d heard one of them mutter, ‘bollocks!‘ under his breath.

I got a couple of texts on the mobile. ‘Ring! Urgently!‘ they said. But my battery was nearly flat so I put it off.

Unfortunately the emails they sent went straight to ‘junk‘. I never look in there – do you?

Then they phoned again.

Kate answered.

He’ll be round the pub I guess,‘ she told them.

Which one?

She guessed wrong.

I wasn’t in the Hinksford Arms for once. I was in the Navi. So unfortunately they missed me again.

Eventually though they caught up with me.

Law of averages I suppose.

No!‘ I told them.

Please,‘ they said, ‘we asked nicely.

And I must agree that they had. Asked nicely that is.

No, sorry.‘ I was not quite so curt in my second response. A civil question deserves a civil answer I feel, unless of course you’re that bloke from Sky. He knows what he can do – I’ve told him!

Why not?‘ they seemed a bit desperate now. ‘It’s a good job. You’ll make loads of new friends. Foreign travel. All expenses paid. All the best hotels.

Well for a split second I have to admit that I was tempted.

Are you sure?‘ I asked, ‘why me?

Because we’ve asked everyone else!‘ they told me.

I sucked it up and held my temper, ‘So I’m the last?‘ I queried.

I just wanted to be sure.

Well, yes,‘ they hesitantly replied. I think they recognised that they may have painted themselves into a bit of a corner.

In that case, you know exactly what you can do!‘ I couldn’t help it. It was like a dam had burst. The tirade that I unleashed on them lasted a good five minutes at least.

They stood looking forlornly at the ground as I vented my spleen.

Out of everyone,‘ I raged, ‘you asked me sodding last!

Well you were out most of the time,‘ said one, ‘what could we do apart from keep knocking door to door?

The shoulders of the other were quivering. I think he was crying.

But everybody!?‘ I was incandescent.

Well there was a tramp in Essex that we couldn’t find either.

Frankly that didn’t make things any better.

Where are you from,‘ I asked eventually.

Conservative Central Office,‘ replied the cry baby. ‘Gove has screwed Boris over and frankly we don’t want May to have it.

We were going to ask Jezza in desperation,‘ the other told me, ‘but he has even less in his cabinet than the England football team.

The other one started to cry again. Apparently he’d seen the Iceland game too!

But now I’m feeling guilty.

You know what I’m like.

It’s probably partly our fault anyway.

And so I will ask just one final time on their behalf.

DOES NO ONE WANT TO RUN THIS BLOODY COUNTRY!?

Big Ben Clipart

Asylum Seekers…

Well it’s getting close to the vote.
In or out of the asylum?

Now I know that in my recent blog, EU – the Hokey Cokey (it’s on this site somewhere) I did make the assertion that anyone who told you whether we were better off either in or out of the aforementioned institution was an idiot, because no one knows for sure. And I still hold to that view, none of us has a crystal ball after all, otherwise the bankers would be loading what’s left of our pension pots into the financial markets to make a quick buck whilst they thought we weren’t looking.

But, and I stress but, it is worth a snigger at some of the absurdity’s which have arisen while the lunatics have been running the show.

Mostly it can be summed up in one word.

Strasbourg.

O.k., not a word I grant you.

A name.

A name which ought to be writ large and illuminated in garish neon lights to highlight the shame that it heaps upon us all.

Strasbourg.

It was worth repeating.

Yes, the ignoble club formerly known as the EEC feels the need to up sticks from its spiritual home in Brussels to go and vote once a month in a different country.

Why?

Because France says so.

Those who say that we should stay because ‘we can change things from the inside,‘ should mark this well!

Now as everyone else knows, France is the biggest looney of the lot. If it can’t get it’s own way the default setting is to have a bit of a tantrum.

A hissy fit.

At least with Germany you know you’re in the same arena as the playground bully.

But France is different. It’s a bit sneaky. ‘Those little Englanders,‘ it whispers in the ear of anyone whose skirts it wants to hide behind – usually the Germans – ‘always causing trouble! If they want to leave why don’t they just bugger off and leave us to cuddle each other?‘ Although when Germany gets a bit too belligerent they hide behind our skirts and let us do the fighting – funny that!

And yet, here they are ripping us off with bloody Strasbourg. Do they think we haven’t noticed? According to which side you believe the figure is somewhere around £100 million per year. Perhaps a bit more, perhaps a bit less. Hey, it’s only loose change, eh? Or between 5-6% of the entire administrative budget to put it another way. And I thought that I was being extravagant getting in the car to go to the corner shop if it was raining!

Yes, as soon as the circus rumbles out of sight of the Belgian suburbs those crafty hoteliers from Europe’s second capital reverse their tariff boards hung by a piece of string next to the ‘VACANCY’ sign. Prices double immediately as do those in the surrounding shops, restaurants and brothels (well we all know politicians are partial to a good spanking by a dominatrix – not so much smugly superior as ugly posterior!)
Very nice for the economy, merci very much,‘ they shout from the Paris treasury as our taxpayer funded dosh piles up in the funny Monopoly money they invented a few years back.

By the way, we did well stopping out of that one. The Euro! Remember decimalisation and how we got ripped off in the early seventies? Prices more than doubled overnight while we were still counting on our fingers trying to work out how many new pence were in a shilling. Imagine that on a continental scale! Just ask the Greeks. Anyway I digress.

Europe prides itself on its empathy with the environment and is rightly concerned about the size of its carbon jackboot – sorry, footprint. I assume that means that the buildings in Brussels have not yet been fitted with the latest energy saving light bulbs, but those in Strasbourg have, which is why it makes so much more sense to pump all that Co2 into the atmosphere as they transfer operations. Although if that is the case it makes you wonder why they bother to go back again only a few days later.
A case of having ones cake and eating it, perhaps? Marie Antoinette would have been so proud!

All a bit tongue in cheek that.

Hey!

Only kidding, rest of Europe.

You know we can’t be serious when the majority party we’ve elected to your parliament is one we wouldn’t scrape off our shoe with a pointy stick over here.

Yes, you shafted us with straight cucumbers if you’ll pardon the expression, we gave you UKIP!

Seems like a fair trade agreement to me, how about you?