Saturday, January 31, 2009


This lunch-time, following a morning of football practice and our game of darts-and-farts (the winner at darts gets to fart on the loser), Alex was to be collected from home by his uncle (his Dad's brother). I was looking forward to this. In the two hours that he'd be out at lunch with uncle, aunt, and cousins, I'd get to work on the bathroom (DIY blah), whilst listening to Stoke City suffer a cruel defeat at the hands feet of the Manchester City squillionaires.
On cue, there came the knock at the door: no aunt, but uncle and cousins (inc. one tiny one* that looked like a Yorkshire pudding) - on foot (* with trendy pram-type contraption).
'Walking - how healthy', I thought.
'Alright, Shane! Fancy a pint?' spoke uncle.
Now, uncle and I get along, we're beyond civil - we're friendly - but we only ever need to be in chunks of, say, two minutes maximum. To push the boundary and take this to the level of having a pint - with three children in tow (not ideal), well that's the sort of thing that I would never have envisaged. Did I fancy a pint? Not really. Was my own lunch in the oven at that very moment? Yes it was. Was I committed to being a useful bathroom-orientated DIY kind of person?
'Where were you thinking?'
'Just round the corner'
'I'll get our coats'
And so we walked to the pub - boys talking about swapping football cards, men talking about babies. (Link credit) In the hour and a half that we were at the pub, there came a moment when my mind wandered. I was unable to imagine what reaction would splutter forth from a couple of old girlfriends, as I considered that I was in a pub - relaxed, having a pint - the manly thing, you might say - with the brother, nephew, niece and son of Ed - my partner's ex. Immersed in the family of my partner's ex. I think the most pleasing detail - or quality - here, is that (apart from this kind of blog post) the manner in which this non-nuclear family formation has emerged, has been very lo-fi. None of us are inclined to sing, dance or be particularly demonstrative about our set-up. Whilst I am open to expressions of alternative lifestyles and family formations, I am prone to wonder about (be suspicious of) those people for whom such expressions seem to be a core part of their identity - especially where they seem to be emphatically positive. I think this comes from the same perception - or maybe is the same perception - as the one about social liberals simply being different kinds of social conservatives. Mm. Much of this - not the crude social stereotyping bit - is fairly important to me.
I'll sort the bathroom out next weekend.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Sleep, Sleep Tonight

So you see, when I can't sleep, I think things like this:
'The alphabet - as places, with each letter/place combo also featuring the letter that is two ahead in the alphabet. Go!'
Accrington (begins with A, also features C - which is two on from A)
Bedford (B and D)
D... Darfur
H... (In practice, my mind would wander here and I'd fall asleep whilst wondering if there might be a place called Hijack (there isn't)).
Ingleby Barwick
J... Jerusalem
Morocco (repels impulse to feel a bit sad)
O... No.
Tel Aviv
Vauxhall... I think that's a place. I know it is. Perhaps the sort of place where people Operate Tridently (that's the nicest way that I can put it).
Wayne County
X... No.
Yokohama (begins with Y, and we're back to A)
Z... No.
Then, the next day - for a fleeting moment, I'll wonder why I couldn't sleep. Whilst the problem begins to be processed, it's useful knowing that the short-term solution lies somewhere between Grimsby and Ingleby Barwick.
Unrelated I: I'm reading What Was Lost, by Catherine O'Flynn. Though I'm only a quarter of the way in, there's already something compelling about the structure of the narrative. There's also something that feels horribly familiar about some of the less fortunate characters' lives (that's a work-related thing).
Unrelated II: I'm watching the Patrice Chéreau film, Intimacy, in 10-minute chunks. So far, I'm 10 minutes in. I'm hoping that it's not going to leave me feeling hollow and with a dull ache in my gut... Sometimes... Actually, no.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Alright, so you see, what I do is I say to myself, 'The alphabet - one word per phonetic letter... go!'
Then I think:-
Able (Begins with the sound of 'Ay')
'Aitch'... nope
Jay Cloth... no... Jade
'Double-U'... nope
'Zed'... nope
Then I get up, and my week begins.
That's what I do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


A shadow of my former self...
From Saturday, in fact
As the boy ran about*:

* Out of shot, with about 20 other boys. Football. The young 'n earned plaudits for a battling midfield performance - strong in the tackle, determined in his running. Best of all, the attitude was as good as it gets.
Yesterday (Tuesday), Happy Larry had a couple of pals over after school - we're making this a regular weekly thing (I avoid working on Tuesday afternoons - my favourite half-day of the week). At around 4:30pm, I started to multi-task - knocking about with the boys (playing darts, and baseballing on the Nintendo Wii**) whilst cooking tea.
** An electronic games console - movement-sensitive. If you're playing tennis on the Wii, then the likelihood is that you're tossing and swinging and jumping about in front of your television, with a small white handset sending a signal to a sensor bar just a few feet in front of you.
Anyway, back to Tuesday: Stepping into the kitchen for the final push of my culinary assault, I closed the door to gamish noise and junior high jinx. Soon after, I hear a collective cheer, followed by an angelic chorus (with hints of Jerry Springer audience) of 'Go Jesus! Go Jesus, go! Go Jesus! Go Jesus, go!'. Baffled, I step back into the room. Still playing on the Wii, the boys had created a Jesus character, who - in the control of Alex - had just hit a home run.
'Unorthodox - funny - one to avoid sharing with grandma', I thought, as I returned to the stove.
Jesus, as recently spotted in the Potteries:

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Y' mean like...

We coughed, sneezed, some did worse. We drove up to North Yorkshire, spent time in a cabin in the Cropton Forest (cabin fever?), shared germs with some of the Wexford clan, returned to the Midlands ahead of Christmas Day.

Christmas-New Year:
Respite, and recovery time. On Christmas Day afternoon, I drove up to the north east to see the bloods. Boxing Day was excellent. All of the Wexford clan headed for Sedgefield racecourse - a crisp sunny day, undulating hills proffering gorgeous distant silhouettes of horses and riders as they turned from the back straight for home. And some of us were net winners - good thing.

New Year:
Has begun well - I've broken the back of a couple of really finicky tasks that I'd been putting off for a while. Alex is good - a nonchalant return to school, on the back of a good break with the paternal clan (good people), and a rejoinder with the maternal-plus clan. Emma has returned to the coalface, following a month-long break. Her next proper break is expected to be in June.

Have received communications this week from a couple of people who I'd not heard from in a while. Seems that some old projects have lived longish in the minds of some - pleased about that. Otherwise, otherwise.

Disappointed that Brother Wexford was unable to visit this coming weekend, for a chilly trip to Wolverhampton races. Alex has his birthday next week. A trip to the Tamworth Snowdome will feature as part of the general hurrahness of that. Alex is unambiguously a middle-sized boy, now. His most recently amusing escapade was his devising of a bath-time Water Helmet:-

- Fill jug with water
- Slam it up-turned onto own head
- See how long it takes for all water to drain from the jug - noisy, splashy, funny

The youngster suggested that I wasted yesterday by working - I '...should have gone sledging' - even though I '...would have looked weird' as the lone adult sledger about town. Elsewhere, I may have just fallen out of love with Burton Albion.

Just before Christmas, a pal gave me the graphic novel, 'V for Vendetta'. Before this, I was prejudiced against graphic novels - lots of pictures for nerdy people who can't read proper books. But it's really very good.

I quite miss a few things and people - Ken included. I hope he's ok.
I've got quite a few lines around my eyes, now. I don't mind this.
I really should make time to replace the car. It's beginning to look 'characterful'.

You (highlights):
Just before Christmas, I received a real treat - a Christmas card from Gene - trans-Atlantic wit and wisdom - what more could be wished for.
Thirty years ago, Pat had a date, then made some big decisions.
I'm hoping for good things for LB (recently articulated healthy perspective on stuff that's a bit shit) and The Hen (recently articulated healthy perspective on that posho who's the new Doctor Who).
If I was Prime Minister (which would be a bad thing), then Tim would be my Secretary of State for Provincial Englishness (which would be a good thing). His sole brief would be, 'Get people to see and hear beauty in the taken-for-granted'. I think he'd be good at that.
C had to grim it out a bit through the latter part of 2008. Reading her can be a bit like reading pinball. Brace brace - she's dating.
Zinnia is taking a blog-writing break. I will email her after hitting the 'Publish Post' button.
Huw and Beth have said enough to make me think that I'd really like The Wire (and it's a HBO Series, and they commissioned The Sopranos - so it must be good, mustn't it?). But I haven't got the time...
Meanwhile - that rare thing - a recently spotted blogger who I'm inclined to read. In mid-December, I met Meanwhile, as ladies undressed in the background.
Then there's Esther... or is there.

Blogging and Other Writing:
Some will happen.
Patience is a virtue.
Wagon Wheel is a biscuit.

It's snowing - real proper flakes - like what we used to get, when I was a kid.