And at Easter too!

Just so that you all know, remember this post from Xmas. Well guess what I got for Easter! No, not chocolate eggs. Or fluffy bunnies. Man Flu, that’s what! So just to remind you how bad it can be, I’m reposting my previous religious holiday blog. ‘Cos I can’t be arsed to do a new one. I’m too ill!

Pardon?

Oh, I thought you’d never ask.
But seeing as how you have – and may I just say that I think you took your time, you could clearly see that I was suffering – the answer to your question is, lousy thanks.
Yes I’m off the scale of from one to wretchedness.

Oh, you didn’t ask before because I, ‘looked like I was going to whinge.’
Charming!
As if I’d do that.

Anyway, Kate asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I never expected this.

Bloody man flu!

Of all things!

A few pairs of pants would have been fine quite honestly. I wouldn’t even have expected them to be bloody gift wrapped.
But no, that was obviously not good enough. She wanted me to really suffer, so nothing from Primark thank you very much. Straight to the snots and sore throat department for her. Oh, look over there – headaches on special offer I’ll get him one of those too, he’ll like that.

Thanks a bunch darling.

And all nicely wrapped in a box of man-sized tissues.

What?
Well yes of course she had it first, but that was just a minor girly cold. It’s getting slightly better after a couple of weeks and yes, she did have a few days off work, but even so…

This is serious.

I’m at least twenty four hours in now and I have to tell you that I’m proper poorly.
Feel my forehead.
Go on, don’t be shy.

See, I’m burning up aren’t I?

I’m what!? Slightly warm!?
Well quite frankly I’m glad that you’re not a doctor.
Good grief I’m at death’s sodding door here.

Well yes, I can see how you might think that me wearing a tee shirt, two jumpers a scarf and overcoat under my dressing gown whilst I’m lying on the sofa under a duvet may have elevated my temperature slightly but I can assure you right now that I’m in the grip of a raging fever.
I may even become delirious, I may start raving. Please make allowances if I do say something inappropriate.
What do you mean, ‘how would I know the difference?
Charming!

Still, it was nice of you to visit.
Would you mind popping the kettle on while you’re here?

IMG_0478No you’ll need more water in than that – fill it to the top.

Did you ask why?

Because I’d like a hot water bottle and a hot toddy please.

Oh, oh, a bit more whiskey than that please. Go on don’t be shy.
No, just chuck the empty bottle over there.
With the rest, yes.
Thank you.

There’s a list on the side there. Shopping yes. If you wouldn’t mind. Not right away of course. When you’ve got time. Although I am running low on tissues. Oh, and I’m not sure if my note makes it clear but could you make sure to get the ones with the soothing balm. A bit gentler on the nose I find, well worth the extra expense. I think it’s important not to be too, shall we say frugal, when it comes to one’s health and well-being.

You’re muttering under your breath again.

Can you overdose on Lemsip?
I just wondered, looking at all these discarded sachets lying on the floor among the tissues. Perhaps I ought to switch back to Paracetamol and cough syrup for a bit to give it chance to get out of my system.

You’re what sorry?

Oh, you’re off.
Well thanks again for coming over.
Very kind.
See I didn’t whinge, did I?
Could you just make sure that the t.v. remote is in reaching distance before you go.
And the telephone handset please.
Yes, just put it next to my pillow there.
In case I have to call an ambulance.

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A small step for a man (Jogle Blogle +40)

With only 40 days to go to the start of the Jogle, dear reader, I thought that I might fill you in on the early part of Steve’s journey from John O’Groats to Lands End – the Scottish experience – for want of a better expression. 

As I’ve told you before, Steve sets out on the 18th. May and…

Pardon?

Yes I did, you obviously weren’t listening – again!

So, just so you can get out there and wave your Saltire’s at him as he passes, here’s a quick heads up of the first part of the route.

Excuse me?

No, a Saltire isn’t a sea breeze, it’s the Scottish flag.

Yes, the blue one with the white stripey bits, as you so eloquently put it.

Anyway, from John O’Groats he’ll head – North!

I know, I know, that’s what I thought. I’ll hear the splash from here in Stourbridge! 

But once my intrepid brother had explained why, it all became clear. So if you’ll indulge me for a while I shall try to clarify exactly what’s going on.

Imagine for a moment the summer of ‘69.

What?

No, not the song. I’m talking about the Apollo space mission.

Yes, it is comparable as you’ll soon see.

Neil Armstrong, Buzz and the other bloke no one can ever remember didn’t blast straight off to the moon you know, oh no, no, no.

First off the three men I admire the most had to drive their Chevy from the levee, hitch up the Saturn V rocket and tow it off to the launch pad.

And that’s what’s happening here.

Steve will stumble out of bed, eat a hearty breakfast…

No, I guess you’re probably right. He is about to embark on an athletic endeavour after all, so he’ll probably be eating something that looks and tastes as though it’s dropped out of a squirrel’s backside.

Then he’ll strap on his rucksack, step out into the storm and make his way – North (that’s uphill to you and me) to the Duncansby Head lighthouse which is along the road from his B & B and the official starting point of this adventure.

Then, splashing through the puddles and hunched against the driving rain, he’ll head back the way he’s just come and begin the long journey south.

Now you may recall that the aforementioned Mr. Armstrong said something about, ‘a small step for a man,’ as if he’d just done something truly momentous. Personally I don’t think he’d entirely thought that through, after all he’d been sitting on his bum for the entire journey. Okay, now you could argue that it was a half million mile round trip without decent ‘facilities’ to put it delicately, but he did have a rocket up his backside. Steve on the other hand will be marching the length of this British Isle, and get this, on his own legs!IMG_0330

Nowhere near the seven and a half million pounds of thrust those idle astronauts had. Now I think you’ll agree that it’s impossible for Steve to generate anywhere near that amount of power, after all it’s surely not humanly possible to eat such a quantity of beans at one sitting. So I think I know whose the greater achievement will be, don’t you?

Here’s his first weeks itinerary.

18th May, first stop Wick.

19th. May Day 2 – Latheron

20th. May Day 3 – Helmsdale

21st. May Day 4 – Golspie

22nd. May Day 5 – Tain

23rd. May Day 6 – Evanton

24th. May Day 7 and at last somewhere I’ve heard of, albeit in a bawdy rugby song about 24 young ladies of righteous virtue – Inverness.

Get out there and cheer him on. 

And if you’re feeling charitable, here is the link to his just giving page in aid of those wonderful people from Macmillan Cancer Support.

‘Got my first real six string, bought it at the five and dime, played it till my fingers bled, was the summer of…’

Oops, was that out loud? For some reason I can’t get the tune out of my head.

Can’t think why?

If you haven’t caught the previous posts regarding the Jogle, why not? Tsk! You’ll find them below.

Life on the cut

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I started writing a regular column for Canals Online magazine. For those of you who didn’t believe it, here is one of the aforementioned articles, treated of course with my usual diplomatic reverence.
As mentioned in the last edition of ‘Canals Online’ magazine, spring has well and truly sprung and is now in full swing down by old bridge number 38.

‘How do you know,’ I hear you cry.
Well I’ll tell you a few of the tricks us old timers living down by the cut use in defining the passing of the seasons.
Firstly, during the first full school holiday week of Easter the tourist boats begin to weave their way up from Stourport. ‘Weave’ is the operative word as the novice captain of the vessel struggles with the intricacies of steering left but going right.
Also during this holiday period it rains.
Incessantly.
Yes, it comes down in galvanised bloody buckets.
Happy Easter, pass the creme eggs, some oilskins and a sou’wester.
But there are other signs.
Fishermen for a start.
The secretive solitary angler has slowly been shedding his winter plumage. The waterproof green and brown camouflage jacket and camouflage over-trousers with visible bum crack have been replaced by a stunning pair of dungarees in a fetching Grey/ Black ‘shock and awe’ pattern just in case a Russian submarine should surface through the murky waters of the Staffs and Worcs. ‘Can’t smear Novichok nerve agent on my knob, Vladimir – I’m disguised as a rock.’
Flocks of them have now appeared on the banks, freshly returned from their winter migration to The Horse and Jockey or the far more exotic Hinksford Arms.
The calls have changed too. Instead of the customary grunt of the lone fisherman in response to any hearty greeting from passing walkers, the calls echo out as they try to locate their mate – ‘How about them Dingles? Couldn’t pass a ball if they tried!’
‘You need bloody talk, the Baggies ain’t much better.’
The ritual displaying of their wares is in full swing. Boxes on wheels have been dragged through the countryside before being opened up to allow all and sundry to see the bewildering array of hooks and lures lovingly arranged in trays. Phalanxes of carbon fibre rods lie across the towpath, held up on all sorts of tripods, steady’s, stands, racks and bits of old twig, giving each angler more catching power than a fleet of Grimsby trawlers.
A pair of Tupperware boxes, one with cheese sandwiches in cling film which have been mouldering on the windowsill since last Wednesday and one full of maggots fresh from the fridge lie discarded in the grass. Take care not to mix those two up then.
A chorus of disapproval starts at the far end and like some slow motion Mexican wave the only rod each of them ever uses is hoisted out of the water and into the air to let the latest learner skipper zig-zag his way past.
Look out!
Coming toward us now is the latest fair weather visitor, clad in shorts, an Action Heart tee shirt and shiny new trainers. Yes, the occasional jogger has peeked out of its nest, discerned that the temperature is above fifteen degrees and it is unlikely to drizzle for at least the next half an hour. He has set out on a mission to jog up as far as the pub, stop for a crafty half and then head back in an effort to lose a few pounds. As well as his colourful plumage he wears a Fitbit on his wrist to be examined every few seconds as an antidote to his being unable to access Facebook in this wi-fi dead-spot called ‘the countryside.’ He is also sporting a utility belt which would make Batman green with envy. There is a water bottle handily placed to be unslung without
losing pace. An iPod is connected up to his head with the latest in ear-bud technology. There is a spare water bottle and a container with re-hydration fluid for emergencies. A pouch contains a multigrain bar which when opened will look (and probably taste) like something that has fallen out of the backside of a squirrel. There are a packet of plasters because you never know do you? He once stumbled, fell and grazed a knee whilst attempting to
hurdle a particularly well spread dog poo. Another pouch contains an economy tub of Vaseline just in case his nipples start to chafe and create static electricity against the nylon of his shirt. And if his right arm should somehow become incapacitated there is a further water bottle within reaching distance of his left arm, to which is also strapped a blood pressure monitor and a sweat band.
Another recent riser from hibernation is the fisherman’s arch rival. So fast and unwilling to stop are these creatures that it causes the normally reticent angler to swear and cuss like girls on a hen night in Newcastle as they hastily drag their fancy plastic rods off the towpath. In a blur of florescent Lycra the mountain biker swoops past covered in an array of multi-national corporate logo’s like an oversubscribed advertising hoarding, head armoured against attack and bum splattered in mud (well at least I hope that’s what that is!) because his bicycle is far too fancy for mud-guards.
Also leaping out of the way are a pair of ramblers. Quiet and unassuming these shy creatures are also agitated by the cyclists ill-mannered charge past and the male may ‘TUT!’ loudly only to be admonished by his mate who will tap his arm apologetically and whisper, ‘George, really!’ They dress identically in a (whisper it, because the next bit is rude) uni-sex sort of way. Despite the heat they wear long grey woollen socks which are rolled down to the top of their hiking boots. Khaki shorts are topped with check patterned shirt (or blouse). He wears a cap, she a sun hat. He carries an Ordnance Survey map in a plastic cover and a compass which he examines at regular intervals despite being on a towpath which allows only a choice of two directions. She has a canvas knapsack inside which is a tinfoil wrap of egg and cress sandwiches, two packets of plain crisps, four Hob-Nobs in cling-film, a thermos of tea – no sugar, her reading glasses (his are on a string around his neck for map and compass readings) and two sensible raincoats.
If I’m not very much mistaken in that thicket over there, just off the towpath – if we approach quietly… Ah yes, I thought it was, the den of the angst ridden teenager – thankfully unoccupied. Normally raucously obnoxious when in a group but get one alone and it will become monosyllabic, with words like ‘yeah,’ ‘nah,’ or ‘innit.’
Pardon?
Oh, how do I know?
Well it’s very similar to looking out for Otter scat. As you will notice there are many empty cans of lager strewn about and the lingering smell of weed signifies that they have been marking their territory. We’d better get back out into the open in case they come back.
Watch out for the over excited Alsatian bounding along it will probably (ah yes, I thought it would – apologies for the tardy warning, it was running faster than I thought) sniff your groin and drool unnervingly. Here comes the owner, or ‘Dad’ as he likes to be called in Tyson’s presence, with a cheery if hesitant, ‘he’s very friendly, so I don’t think he’ll hurt you.’ He would have been closer to his pooch but he was diligently poo picking before hanging the plastic bag from the branch of the nearest tree like a gaudy Christmas bauble.
And that my friends is how we country bumpkins tell the time of year. Summer will be upon us soon, it’s scheduled for a week next Thursday – we will of course know by the arrival of a pair of Kayakers and a paddle boarder.
Oh yes, and the rain will be warmer.
If you’d like to read my latest musings of life on the cut for ‘Canals Online’ magazine you’ll find them at https://www.canalsonlinemagazine.uk/david-robertson-article-2

Going Home

Those of you who have taken the time to visit my website may recognise this. It started life as a radio sketch which I’ve now rewritten as a piece of flash fiction.
Whatever for?’ I hear you cry, ‘It was bad enough the first time!
Well I’ve done it for The Bloggers Bash competition, okay? Write about the royal wedding they said, three hundred words maximum they said. So here it is in three hundred words exactly. Well you know how pedantic I get about things like this. It’s called, ‘Going Home’ and I expect to get hauled to The Tower as soon as I press ‘PUBLISH.’ The last words I’ll hear will probably be, ‘Orf with his head.
It’s been nice knowing you.

GOING HOME

A lone piper played, ‘Donald where’s your troosers?’ the melody skirled along the glen.
A single shotgun blast transformed the refrain into a discordant wail as the bagpipes deflated.
‘Philiip!’ Faintly against the breeze.
‘Wha..? Bloody woman! Who the hell does she think she is?’ A servant squirmed uncomfortably beside him. ‘Go man, chase them out as we discussed.’
Discharging spent cartridges and reloading, he watched the gamekeeper hurriedly depart whilst his wife approached from the opposite direction, skirt flapping above wellingtons.
‘Phillip, are you shooting musicians? Again?’
‘New headscarf dear? Haven’t seen you in ages; been Googling yourself?’
‘Musicians, Phillip!?’
‘Bloody racket. Mercy killing I call it. What do you want anyway?’
‘Didn’t you get one’s email?’
‘You know I’m not a Golden Graham.’
‘The term is silver surfer. We’re going home. Now.’
‘We are home you stupid…’
‘Not this home. One of the big ones. In London. And no pot shots at the tourists either.’
‘London! Hateful place. Besides there’s a corps of buglers in that copse, I sent gillie to flush them out.’
A roar escalated, rushed overhead and faded, chased away by two gunshots.
‘Phillip!’
‘Bloody Red Arrows. Following us about, frightening the damn horses!’
‘Come, we have to pack.’
‘Why?’
‘One’s grandson is getting married.’
‘Married! Is the filly preggers?’
‘No!’
‘Then what’s the damn rush?’
‘Phillip!’
‘Must we?’
‘It’s expected. One has subjects.’
‘We need another war, sort the buggers out. We’ll be singing that bloody song I suppose?’
From Balmoral Castle the opening strains of ‘God Save The Queen,’ echoed across the grounds.
‘That’s the one,’ Phillip sighed.
‘Oh Lord, Brian May is on one’s roof again.’
‘Allow me, my dear.’
The shotgun barked and the chords died away.
‘Oh, good shot, Phillikins.’ she patted his arm affectionately.
‘One aims to please, ma’am.’

Radio Ga Ga…

Oh hello.
Blimey you snuck in didn’t you? I never heard a thing.
I was what?
Oh, miles away.
That’s true I suppose.
Things on my mind.
A lot of stuff going on.

Did I tell you that I was going to be on the radio?
Again, yes.
What do you mean, you’re surprised they’ll let me back after last time!
It wasn’t that bad.

Was it?

Anyway, yes I’m going back.
Dave Homer’s show like the last couple of times.
Well yes, he’s a very nice bloke.

Did you know he’s the real ‘Mr Dave,’ of Balti Dave fame.
No?
Remember all those curry houses down Lye High Street – his fault.
See, you learn something new every day, don’t you.

I wonder what he’ll ask me? That’s why I’m so distracted. Running through the possibilities.
About the third Misty book obviously, that’s why I’m going in the first place.
He had me there for the first two after all.
But there’s so much more.

What do you mean, ‘like what?david robertson
There was The People’s Book Prize last summer. I could tell him a couple of funny stories about that, couldn’t I?
No I’m not telling you what, you’ll have to listen in won’t you!

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Then there was the play wot I wrote. PM dot com. We could chat about that.
The Saturday night performance yes. Goes without saying really doesn’t it.

I never want to think about the Friday night again to be honest. All those fluffed lines. Waiting in the wings when I should have been on stage.

Wearing a Manchester City shirt – I still feel unclean! Well I haven’t got that many United shirts and my brother was the only person I know with enough strip for the cast. Just a shame he supports that mob from the wrong end of town! No matter how much I scrub myself…

What?

Oh yes, you’re right – I”d forgotten the stray dog running around the audience in the second half. Ha ha! I wonder where he came from? I wonder where he went?
Still, the Saturday performance was soooo much better.

It got a laugh anyway.

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And now I’m a professional playwright.
I got paid for it, so there.
I don’t think the amount is important, do you.
Oh!
Seeing as you asked it was ahem, ahem.
Pardon? Oh you didn’t hear. Never mind then.
Okay, okay! If you insist.
A pound.
No need to laugh quite so hard, thank you!

So anyway I decided to write another.
Yes, another play.
Well you don’t need to groan quite like that.
It’ll be funny.
In places.
No, I can’t tell you what it’s about. If I did I’d have to shoot you, it’s a secret see.
Don’t want anyone picking it up before it’s ready.

It’s set in The Black Country.
That’s as much as I’m saying otherwise Lenny Henry or Doreen Tipton might nick it.

Perhaps I’ll tell my mate Dave though.
Perhaps I’ll tell him that I do a blog.
What do you mean, ‘Where?
This is it!
Honestly!

Tell you what, I’ll mention your name.
You’ll have to listen now, won’t you?
102.5 FM Black Country Radio.
From 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon.
Or get it on catch up.
It’ll be a loff anyroad up.
Bostin. 😀

The square root of zero…

So here we are already one fiftytwoth of the year into 2018.
And exactly what have I achieved?

Well, nothing actually.

But you see, that’s not a very fair question is it?

What do you mean, ‘Why not?

Isn’t it obvious.

No, I don’t think, ‘Because you’re an idle bastard,’ is a valid comment.
The reason is because this first week doesn’t actually count, does it?

No.

You see this first week has been spent chatting to fellow bloggers setting targets which we hope to achieve during the other fifty one weeks of the year.
So I have actually been very busy.

No, I knew you were going to raise that old chestnut.
These are not resolutions.

Definitely not.
Resolutions are for packing up things like smoking, or drinking, or eating too much cream cake, that sort of thing.

And let’s face it resolutions are all too easily broken. Take that one I made at midnight to curb my excessive drinking habit. The fact that I toasted the idea with a very large Jack Daniels gives you some idea how that turned out.
No, these are targets. Goals if you like. Something to aim for.

Pardon?

Oh! How did I get on with last years?
Well let me just say that the objectives which were mooted at this point in the preceding twelve month span were perhaps not met with the resounding success that may have been envisaged at that juncture – but that exciting new opportunities were indeed, in the fullness of time, opened up with a view to future development.

I sound like a what?ardeh+U%TqaqnlwMTXrQ3APolitician!

Shoot me now!

What was that?

Oh that’s good.
I hadn’t heard that before. ‘The square root of zero is still bugger all.

I shall have to remember that one to use the next time I want to sound like a disparaging old fart.

Well I’m sorry to be so blunt, but there was no need for you to say that was there?

Encouragement, that’s what I need right now.
Okay, so I may not have achieved all that I set out to do last year.
No you’re right, I didn’t achieve anything actually.

But I tried.

Procrastination – that’s my biggest problem. I even wrote a blog about it. See, see, I did do something after all.
Yes, I know. Writing a piece about not doing anything is hardly something to shout about.
But it’s a start.
From tiny acorns and all that.
There’ll be a mighty oak along any minute now, just you wait and see.

Anyway – you know me. Always look on the bright side.
All those plans that I made last year can be exactly the same as the ones I’m making this year. I’ll just copy them out and have time to put my feet up for a bit.
See, I’ve already written a blog about procrastination, how’s that for progress?

Pass me last years diary, let’s see what’s going to be keeping me off the streets for the next fifty one weeks.

Oh, and while you’re up, could you pass me that packet of fags, a can of lager out of the fridge and I’m sure there was something else. That’s it, a nice slice of that cream filled Victoria sponge should slide down quite nicely I think.

Cute puppy though!

Ho bloody ho!

Pardon?

Oh, I thought you’d never ask.
But seeing as how you have – and may I just say that I think you took your time, you could clearly see that I was suffering – the answer to your question is, lousy thanks.
Yes I’m off the scale of from one to wretchedness.

Oh, you didn’t ask before because I, ‘looked like I was going to whinge.’
Charming!
As if I’d do that.

Anyway, Kate asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I never expected this.

Bloody man flu!

Of all things!

A few pairs of pants would have been fine quite honestly. I wouldn’t even have expected them to be bloody gift wrapped.
But no, that was obviously not good enough. She wanted me to really suffer, so nothing from Primark thank you very much. Straight to the snots and sore throat department for her. Oh, look over there – headaches on special offer I’ll get him one of those too, he’ll like that.

Thanks a bunch darling.

And all nicely wrapped in a box of man-sized tissues.

What?
Well yes of course she had it first, but that was just a minor girly cold. It’s getting slightly better after a couple of weeks and yes, she did have a few days off work, but even so…

This is serious.

I’m at least twenty four hours in now and I have to tell you that I’m proper poorly.
Feel my forehead.
Go on, don’t be shy.

See, I’m burning up aren’t I?

I’m what!? Slightly warm!?
Well quite frankly I’m glad that you’re not a doctor.
Good grief I’m at death’s sodding door here.

Well yes, I can see how you might think that me wearing a tee shirt, two jumpers a scarf and overcoat under my dressing gown whilst I’m lying on the sofa under a duvet may have elevated my temperature slightly but I can assure you right now that I’m in the grip of a raging fever.
I may even become delirious, I may start raving. Please make allowances if I do say something inappropriate.
What do you mean, ‘how would I know the difference?
Charming!

Still, it was nice of you to visit.
Would you mind popping the kettle on while you’re here?

IMG_0478No you’ll need more water in than that – fill it to the top.

Did you ask why?

Because I’d like a hot water bottle and a hot toddy please.

Oh, oh, a bit more whiskey than that please. Go on don’t be shy.
No, just chuck the empty bottle over there.
With the rest, yes.
Thank you.

There’s a list on the side there. Shopping yes. If you wouldn’t mind. Not right away of course. When you’ve got time. Although I am running low on tissues. Oh, and I’m not sure if my note makes it clear but could you make sure to get the ones with the soothing balm. A bit gentler on the nose I find, well worth the extra expense. I think it’s important not to be too, shall we say frugal, when it comes to one’s health and well-being.

You’re muttering under your breath again.

Can you overdose on Lemsip?
I just wondered, looking at all these discarded sachets lying on the floor among the tissues. Perhaps I ought to switch back to Paracetamol and cough syrup for a bit to give it chance to get out of my system.

You’re what sorry?

Oh, you’re off.
Well thanks again for coming over.
Very kind.
See I didn’t whinge, did I?
Could you just make sure that the t.v. remote is in reaching distance before you go.
And the telephone handset please.
Yes, just put it next to my pillow there.
In case I have to call an ambulance.