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!!!!!

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Send the cavalry

So I’ve swapped Misty and Milly for a couple of weeks for their American cousins. That’s Henry (the small white one) and Murphy (the bigger brown one).


Pardon?
I don’t think that they bark with American accents, no.

Anyway… Sorry, what!?

No they don’t walk on the wrong side of the path either. And before you start again let’s not get into the whole potato, potarto/ tomato, tomarto argument o.k. We’d be here all day.

As I was about to say, I’ve been taking the lads out for a walk. In the morning, when it’s cooler – sorry, I just had to get that dig in. Is it raining back home? Oh dear!

But. And as so many things are over here, this is a big BUT. No, with one ‘T’, dear – there is a difference. Can I carry on now? Thank you.

But, when me and the girls go out in dear old Blighty we usually venture down the cut – oh, apologies again, that’s a Black Country phrase meaning ‘along the canal towpath’ – the most dangerous thing we are likely to encounter is a slightly miffed duck, annoyed because we haven’t brought it some bread.

Here in Fulshear, Texas, the new housing estates tend to be surrounded by water. Like a moat around a castle. And very picturesque it is too. Egrets stand by the bank looking all, well egrety actually, the banks are lush green grass, fountains fount. Lovely.


Hold on. What’s this? A sign. Let’s just take a look… WTF!


I thought those ripples in the middle were a bit big for any sort of fish I’ve ever seen the fishermen of England drag out of the Staffordshire and Worcester canal. And although the grass is neatly trimmed for the first foot or so, isn’t that long grass a bit too close to the path? Dogs don’t hiss over here, do they? And what ‘other wild life’? Mice? Raccoons? Grizzly’s? The sign’s not very specific is it. I mean I went to Alaska once and believe you me bears really do shit in the woods. I came across some (bear shit not bears). It was still steaming. It was probably still steaming in the extremely short period of time it took me to hurtle back to a place of safety.

Well, I mean! Honestly! These are new estates. What are they trying to do? It must be the modern day equivalent of getting the covered wagons into a defensive circle in case of attack and the 7th cavalry aren’t around for protection. Any enemy of note isn’t about to come crawling through the grass to pinch the barbecue while you’re not looking are they? No one’s likely to swim across the lake to have an illicit bounce on your trampoline are they?

And what if poor Fido goes missing. Slips out of the back gate or a hole in the fence in the middle of the night. Are you going to go looking? Too right – nor me matey! One wrong move could be fatal. Stick your foot in a puddle accidentally and the next thing you know you’re doing the death roll tango with a ten foot reptile! The only thing you’ll find of your best friend the next day is a tuft of fur and some frightened poo. Leave well alone, that’s what I say.

Next time me and the boys go out hiking I shall take a lot more notice when they start to bark in whatever regional accent they’re using. For all I know they’re shouting, ‘Big scaley thing with teeth. And his tail ain’t wagging.’

You can buy guns here you know. 

Excuse me – I’m just popping down to Walmart for an AK47.

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?

Oh, oh, oh it’s magic…

It’s a strange thing when you have too much time on your hands. The things that go through your mind I mean.

Take now for instance. I’m on a plane.

I’ve been sat in more or less the same position for nigh on 3 1/2 hours and I’m likely to do so for a further 5 1/2. Despicable Me 3 has just finished and you get to thinking,

1. Should I go to the loo, just for something to do?

2. When are they feeding me again?

3. What the bejasus is holding this thing in the air?

I know, I know – you can get all scientific on me.

You can tell me about differential air pressure until you’re blue in the face.

Yes, and thrust too madam. I thought you might put your twopennorth in!

But it’s me sitting here over the wing and believe you me, there’s very little between the underside of the aerilon (or whatever that flappy thing is called) and the tip of bloody Greenland as far as I can see.

And 39000 feet straight down looks pretty far at the moment, I can tell you.

Between us and Arsuk (it’s true, Google it. What an unfortunate postal address that is! Where do you live? Arsuk. Well I only asked!) there is air. A lot of it admittedly, but it’s not exactly heavy. We breath the stuff in and out constantly and it doesn’t take a great deal of effort. Can it really hold up God knows how many tons (yes I know it’s tonnes but we’re going to the USA. And anyway, after Brexit do we get our measurements back?) of aircraft, fuel, cargo and us poor bloody passengers?
Furthermore, have you had the chance to study an aeroplane wing in detail?


No? Nor me until now. Honestly I’ve seen more sheet steel in your average bus shelter. 

And rivets! Don’t talk to me about rivets! I used rivets in metalwork at school once. Not the sturdiest of fixings in my opinion.

Pardon? Yes, that was rather a long time ago, thank you for pointing that out.

As I was saying I have used the odd rivet in various metallurgical disasters and they do in my experience tend to shear as soon as you look at them. Yes, I know that there are rather a lot of them dotted about the aerodynamic surfaces, but personally and particularly now that my mind is working overtime, I would have preferred to see row upon row of nice half inch diameter bolts. In super high tensile steel!

So what is it holding us up?

I’ve had a lot of time to think.

And I have come to the conclusion that there is only on possible logical answer.

It’s magic.