Birthday

So today is my daughter’s birthday. I’m taking her for a few drinks and a meal.

Daddy daughter time

Love her lots

Conundrum

Question. Is anybody else having the same problem as me with WordPress!?

When I read a post and like it, then go back to the same post a little later, it indicates that I haven’t liked it.

I’m confused. Should I like it again or forget it ?

A Walk In My Woods

Way back in 2005, after being unceramoniously informed by my I.T. instructor that my spelling was atrocious, (He wasn’t wrong, but he wasn’t very tactful) I enrolled on an English Literature course at my local college. I wrote about this situation and the path it eventually sent me down in one of my first posts, but I didn’t go into the 9 month course itself.

Near the end of the course, I was asked to write a fictional story based on Bill Bryson’s great biographical novel ‘A Walk In The Woods’. The tutor asked me to write my own version of it, with the only acceptable similarity to the original being simply, a walk through the woods! I had never read anything Bryson had wrote, so I bought it and dived headfirst into it, and was instantly captivated with the author’s ability to transport the reader into his world.

I was happy and relieved that I didn’t have to try and replicate his greatest work (No chance anyway) but I was also a little flummoxed with how to set about my task. It was a few days before the deadline when I was talking to my mum about the members of her family that I had never met. All of my grandparents had died long before I was born, and most of my aunties and uncles. It was during our conversation that a lightbulb came on in my head. I decided right there and then that I would base my story around my personal journey through the woods, a walk that would be intermittently paused as I came upon different members of my family from the past.

I wasn’t sure about the way I would write it because at that time, I hadn’t found my literary voice (Still haven’t) and I didn’t have a writing style. It was strange because when I first started the course, all I intended to do was improve my spelling, improve the way I put my thoughts across and just pass the bloody thing. However, when I handed over that final piece to the tutor, I wanted more than that, I wanted him and the examining board to like it. I realised, all of a sudden, that I was driven to keep on improving, which really wasn’t like the happy-go-lucky, couldn’t care less man that had started the course.

I experienced contrasting feelings when I had finally found something that I love to do. I felt almost seperate from the person I had always been. I also felt isolated and thinking about it, I think I was able to put my feelings of isolation into the story.

Whether it was luck or just the right place right time for me, my tutor didn’t say anything to me the week after I handed my story over to him, he mearly nodded and winked at me.

I recieved my results through the post and managed to get an A star.

To celebrate my result, I packed a haversack with a few sandwiches, a flask of tea and armed with cigarettes, I took myself for a long, quiet walk through the woods (I know how to celebrate!)

The Pretend Dry Stone Waller

In 1988, I worked as a dry stone Waller for Lord Longstone in the Peak District. To my memory, I can honestly say I have never worked in a place that was so beautiful and serene. Unfortunately, the work only took 7 months, but most of those days were spent working in glorious sunshine, breathing in clean, fresh country air. (In fact, compared to the odours I have to endure in my current job, breathing in methane from cow dung was like taking in the sweet smell of a rose)

The Peak takes on a life of its own during the summer months. I remember watching an old movie called Whistle Down The Wind, and one scene has always remained in my mind. The young chap in it lays down on the moors and, pressing his ear to ground, imagines he can hear the heartbeat of the moors. Now, I am not claiming I could hear the peaks heartbeat, but during the times where I found a quiet place, sitting in the bracken, looking down in the valley, it was surreal, I felt safe and peaceful surrounded by nature to think and bathe in the silence.

In 1988 I was still learning to drive so I, as well as 5 others, relied on a lift from the foreman in the works van. Sad though it is to admit, I can only remember 2 of the guys names who I worked with, Geoff and Tommy. I will explain more about their characters later in the post.

The working day scenario went like this. Travel to Great Longstone in the van about 6.30am. Arrive at the place of work about 20 minutes later. All climb out of the van and walk along a narrow dirt path for 5 minutes until we came to a wider opening, framed by thick trees and dilapidated, moss covered walls. We were meant to work for 9 hours with a 60 minute break and a couple of tea breaks in between during the day. I say ‘Meant’ because once the foreman had left the site we tossed it off. Working for 20 minutes, resting for 20 and so on. But we made great headway, so nobody was any the wiser and I think we made a damn fine wall (About a quarter of a mile long) because, 31 years later, the stretch of wall that we repaired and rebuilt still stands proudly against the winds and weather of the Peak District.

One of the guys who caught a lift with the rest of us, who’s name escapes me, started to bring his dog with him, a little Jack Russell and a narrow but long cage with a ferret in it! Once we had all worked for a couple of hours, he would lead his dog into the thick trees, carrying the cage, with a roll-up hanging out of the side of his mouth and reappear a couple of hours later with dead rabbits hanging from his belt. Eventually, after a few weeks of working together, myself and Tommy would accompany the rabbit catcher, all adorning camouflage trousers, all suitably decorated with a roll-up hanging from the lips. (Eat your heart out Peaky Blinders)

As for Lord Longstone, he would turn up in his extremely large off-roader every Friday morning with his Alsatian by his side. After the usual nod to his subjects, he would take a running jump and drop kick his new stone walls to test them for durability. (They withstood his attack) Then he would instruct his foreman to get some of the lads to load his trailer up with the fallen trees that were scattered around the area. The foreman himself was quite a character, always effing and blinding, but softly spoken with it. He was very proud of his son, who was in active service with the SAS. Although he knew very little about the things his son was involved in, he would visibly beam with pride when he spoke about him. And rightly so. We would only see him for a few hours a week, but on Fridays, he would stay with us and do some work, waiting for the Lord to make his appearance. An hour after the Lord had gone, he would take all of us into Bakewell to collect our wages and enjoy a couple of pints with us before taking us back to Chesterfield.

The foreman always, always drummed into us the importance of being careful when lifting some of the heavier stones. We found out why he was so keen on health and safety one Friday afternoon in a pub in Bakewell. Apparently, a guy who had worked for the Lord a few months previously had been involved in a terrible accident, caused by his own stupidity. This guy was very big and extremely strong. One of the men he was working with challenged him to move a millstone that was laying down amongst the rocks. The guy in question very stupidly took on the challenge, and actually moved the stone! Unfortunately, it fell back in his direction and severed the lower part of his leg! I’m not sure what happened to the guy afterwards, or if Lord Longstone was held accountable, but that was the reason for the constant health and safety speech.

Geoff, the guy I mentioned at the beginning of this post had, in the past, represented Great Britain in the sport of powerlifting. He was a warm, jovial sort of chap, always laughing, joking and ready to lend a helping hand whenever and wherever. I would often see him walking around the local town for a few years after we had parted company as pretend stone wallers. Unfortunately, he died a couple of years ago after suffering from a massive stroke. Rest his soul.

Tommy was diminutive In stature but blessed with sharp intellect. He had been a miner during the strikes of the late 70s, early 80s. Because he had a wife and children to support, he put their needs first and broke the picket lines. His house was bombarded with bricks, fencing posts and human excrement. He told me he found out who his true friends were. I admired his courage and tenacity. Quite a man.

Some of the other guys I worked with during that time, who’s names escape me, were characters in their own right, one day, I’ll write a post about them.

Bobbing And Weaving And Caring

So, today at work I had to be quick on my toes. One of the residents very kindly attempted to hand over (Literally) a rather large piece of freshly laid dooooo doo. I refused as politely as possible whilst steering his overflowing hand towards the downstairs toilet/shower room.

A little later in the afternoon, after taking care of that little problem, myself and another staff member heard a noise that resembled the howling of a wolf!

Upon investigation, we discovered the ‘Turd in the hand ‘ resident actually using the toilet, but he was sat pushing so hard that the veins in his neck were bulging and a howling noise was escaping from out of his throat.

I wasn’t sure what to do about his very personal predicament but he made my mind up for me by standing up and turning around to reveal a monster halfway out, halfway in!

The only thing I could think of to help the poor chap was to put triple gloves on and help him excavate as gently as I could.

He’s in bed now, fast asleep, leaving me alone to come to terms with my melting eye sockets.

I really like my job but on days like this, I wish I was doing something else.

Such is life!

Kinky Frustration Night

This is just a quick post and despite the title, it isn’t about sexy fun! (Unfortunately) It’s about a funny, unexpected event that occurred during a game of Frustration.

Before I begin, I need to explain our infamous Frustration nights. Every few weeks, myself along with Shuffle (Stu), Grave Digger (Jackie) and Mother Hen (The wife) all get together and play Frustration for money, diluting all the tension with beer, wine, spirits and food. We’ve had some fun nights over the years, we’ve even argued once or twice about who has cheated by moving too many spaces or knocked the wrong person off because of alleged favoritism!!! But it’s just for laughs and we never take it seriously, although stu hates to lose.

Last night (Thursday) we got together for a game because myself and the wife had a day off work today so we knew we could let our hair down and relax today. Now, it wasn’t the game that had us laughing last night, it was the text message that Jackie received during the game! She read her message and said “Who the bloody hell is this?!” and started laughing! Then she read the message out.

It said “Last night was so horny, I had a great time with you and your husband, hope to do it again soon “. After all the laughing and leg pulling that Jackie received about her being a secret swinger, she messaged back and told ‘Him or her’ that they had the wrong number. Then she received a message back apologising and stating that they hoped they hadn’t insulted or upset her.

Jackie didn’t reply, but me being me, well, all I can say is that I immediately saw the opportunity to play a prank on some unfortunate! The question is which one of my friends and how to execute the prank.

I will record my prank on here when the deed is done. (I promise to make it tasteful, with no malice intended)

Buuhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….