This Is Funny and Rude, Sorry!!

Animals tend to like me but sometimes, I don’t have much luck when they’re around. We’ve had 3 dogs over the years and 2 cats, all alive at different times over a 25 year period.

One one occasion a puppy we had slept in our bedroom with a comfy little bed made for him at the side of our bed. I remember once that my alarm went off as normal at 5am for work. I swung my legs off the bed, put my feet on the floor and felt something warm and squishy under my foot. I turned the light on, looked down and saw puppy poo had oozed through my toes. The puppy was fast asleep as I hopped past him, swearing under my breath and all he could do was snore, uncaring of the mess he had unleashed on his new owner.

A few weeks later it became much worse, even traumatic and I’m positive my wife will not appreciate me letting the (Dog out of the bag) However, some things have to be shared because they’re so funny.

One evening we (Me and the wife) became very hot under the collar, (If you know what I mean) one thing led to another and we found ourselves entangled together on the living room carpet, with me flat on the carpet. You get the picture! We were having a wild time, oblivious to everything when I felt a strange sensation in the nether regions. It built up over a very short period of time so we ceased all movements and I looked down to see the puppy having an innocence feast on my testicles. I ushered the puppy away and sprang to my feet shocked and disgusted but instantly joined in with my laughing wife, who found it hilarious!!

During an earlier time when I still lived at my parents house, we had a black and white Collie. He was very strong, which I found out to my cost during one of his walks. Max, my Collie, had ran himself into the ground during our walk, his tongue hanging like a limp liver out of the side of his mouth. As we approached a main road on our way home, I put him back into his lead. The edge of the road was at the bottom of a steep grassy bank. We began the decent very slowly and calmly, until Max spotted a cat across the other side of the road. Then hell was unleashed!

Max used all of his strength and speed to get to the cat whilst my hand was wrapped around the lead. He dragged he across the road but only after he had jerked me so suddenly that I virtually flew over the grass like Superman! He eventually gave up his chase, which was good for me because the skin on my hand and chin was wearing very thin!

Eventually I limped home, keeping a very tight hold of his lead with blood seeping from my battle wounds.

I laughed about it eventually and loved him until he died a few years later, but after that ‘Benny Hill sketch ‘ I bought a much stronger steel lead with a double handle so I could use 2 hands when I saw potential danger during our walks.

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If Music Be The Food Of Life

I’m not quoting anyone as far as I know with the title but if I am then I can only apologise and plead guilty to plagiarism!

As a boy (About 8 or 9) I would religiously sit in front of the TV and watch westerns every Saturday morning. It didn’t matter who was in it because I knew nothing about film stars back then. Most of the movies were black and white re-runs but I lost myself in the screen. Occasionally, one of the cowboys would miraculously get his hands on a guitar and sing whilst sat on a horse. To me, those parts of the movie were a needless distraction because I was sat there for one reason only, to watch the rooting tooting good guys get those pesky vermin bad guys.

However, it was needless until I watched a Western called Flaming Star. The titles rolled and the theme song kicked in and i discovered that my foot was tapping to the beat and my head was bobbing around like a chicken. I was mesmerised. There was no singing throughout the movie but the song came on at the end again and I watched for his name as the credits flashed over the screen. Flaming Star, sung by Elvis Presley rolled by and I made sure i remembered the name because I wrote it down on a scrap of paper.

That was the start of a lifelong love for all types of music, especially the music of Elvis. Not long after Flaming Star had been screened, a run of movies starring Elvis replaced the Westerns on Saturday mornings. To be honest, he was never going to win an Oscar but every time he started singing I became more and more consumed with his style of music. Occasionally, my mum would walk into the living room and catch me dancing around like a floppy hand puppet, free of its strings and she laughed at me. She probably thought her son belonged in an asylum for the insane!

As a grew up I swayed towards his love songs and ballads, in particular his music after his comeback in 68 (3 years after I was born)  After my reluctant and forced debut as a karaoke singer (I say that with tongue in cheek) my friend Stu and I regularly sang (Tongue in cheek again) Elvis songs. I think our favourite song to relentlessly murder was Suspicious Minds (Sorry Elvis) However, I think in his top 3 for me is his version of Like A Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Love this song.

I may be wrong but no matter what your taste or preference in music, the majority of people recognise his voice and know at least one of his songs. That speaks volumes about the musical legacy he left behind. Long live the King!

“We can’t go on together, with suspicious minds…………….”.

Curbar Gap, A Place I Love

Very often, when I was into fitness a long time ago, I would drive for 20 minutes to a beautiful place in the Peak District called Curbar Gap.

Here it is:

As you can see, the views are outstanding. The terrain is rocky, washed and kissed by nature’s elements. During the day, the several miles of jagged rocks are awash with tourists, but as dusk falls over the landscape, it’s a place of peace and serenity. As day is breaking, it seems like it’s a part of the world that the ravages of time and modernity forgot to touch.

So, long ago, when I woke up before dawn, I’d drive up there, quietly park near the bottom of the cliffs, put my running shoes on and climb to the top before starting a gentle run, leaping over chasms and pausing every now and then to soak up the sheer solitude I felt.

I would run for an hour then sit on top of a Peak to simply listen and watch. On a couple of occasions a mountain goat would break the silence with a bleep and a bahhh.

When I met the woman who became my wife, we would take the kids up there and picnic frequently. They fell in love with the place just as much as I did.

At the moment, we don’t seem able to find the time to go back up there but I have no doubt that when we do, we’ll find it unchanged and just as peaceful as it was the first day I came across it.

Long Live Curbar Gap

Thinking About The Past

When I played as a kid on the streets. I knew instinctively that I was no different to any of my friends on the outside but very different on the inside. I didn’t know why I felt that way because I couldn’t possibly have been self aware as a kid. However, I recognised that I was an individual in my own right and my friends were individuals in their own right.

Now, as I’ve nearly reached the age of 54, I find myself looking back and wondering what happened to some of my childhood friends. Did their own unique set of skills or talents bring them success and happiness? Did they have any sort of ambition? If they did, then I was never aware of what they wanted out of life.

One of the boys who played football on the streets with us moved to Canada before he was 14 with his family. Someone who I hadn’t seen for years happened to be in a shop I was walking around a few years ago and we reminisced about the ‘Old days’, of playing football in the streets and getting into innocent mischief and he informed me that Terry, the one who moved to Canada, had become a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. a Mounty. He had married a Canadian woman, bought a house and eventually fathered 2 children. I remembered what he was like before he left England and my first instinct was to say that he didn’t seem the type to become a Mounty because he was a shy and withdrawn boy, only coming out to play football occasionally and never really got involved with the other games we played. It’s great that he eventually discovered who he was after emigrating.

Then I got to thinking about the other members of our group. My best childhood friend was Tony (See Bionic Tony) and after he left I never heard from him again. I hope he’s had a spectacular life and fulfilled the potential I could sense he possessed as a teenager.

Another good friend was Banno, and he moved about a mile away with his father after his mum passed away. Banno’s father was an alcoholic and a very heavy smoker and after his father died, Banno went down the same route. I’ve seen him a few times over the years since his father passed and his mental condition has visibly slipped into a nervous, shaking hole that he obviously can’t find a way out of. I’ve invited him to my house on a few occasions and he’s accepted but I’ve seen the distant look in his eyes that told me he wouldn’t call at the house.

Another friend from our childhood ‘Gang’ drank himself into an early grave just a few years ago whilst he was in his mid forties. He was such a nice guy, always smiling and joking. He had a longtime girlfriend who also abused alcohol and sometimes I see her walking around, looking haggard and devoid of life.

Another one of the gang only ever joined us when we played cricket on the street. He always came across as far more mature than the rest of us and always did as his mother asked of him. He went into the police force at 18 and rose up the rankings to become a DCI. Every now and then i’ll see him pass by in his car and he always acknowledges me with a wave. We passed each other on foot about 10 years ago and he asked me what I was doing with my life. When I told him I was in my second year of university at the age of 44, he looked surprised and said “You see, I told you not to waste your school days”. I responded by saying “Define waste”, and we parted with laugh and a hand shake.

Another two of the boys work in the town where I live, one of them works as a daytime security guard, the other works behind a bar, pulling pints for people he grew up with. They both look physically fit but I never see them smiling with no evidence of lines around the eyes that indicate lots of laughter. I wonder if they’re happy and content on the inside!

It’s sort of strange thinking about them now because for years I never gave them much thought. I wonder if any of them think about the past as much as I do? I wonder if any of them consider the time they’ve spent on living their life’s in the way they’ve chosen, a waste? I would love to find out how they’ve spent their time as a adult.

My French, Allo Allo Style

I’m not sure if I mentioned this in one of my earlier posts but if I did, it was only a passing reference, so it deserves embellishment. It still makes me smile to myself when I think about it !

When I was in my 3rd year of university, I had the opportunity of choosing a subject that was unrelated to the degree subject, so I threw caution to the wind and chose French, mainly to break the monotony of exclusively reading the same subject over the entirety of my final year. and because I really wanted to learn how to speak and understand French.

So, French it was! Walking towards the building that languages were studied in, I tried to get into the right mindset by uttering ‘Bonjour’ to myself, swiftly followed by ‘Merci’.

I passed people in the street on my way to the building and carefully picked random individuals to say my 2 French words! I received looks of surprise, shock and a couple of ‘He must be insane ‘ expressions! I didn’t care, i accept it was practice without permission and I was verbally assaulting the ears of total strangers with my mispronunciation of the beautiful French language, but it was practice.

When I walked into the cramped classroom I looked at a woman who I presumed to be the tutor and gave her my best ‘Bonjour’. A small controlled laugh escaped her mouth, accompanied with a ‘Oh God no’! Expression and she replied with words I didn’t understand. My confused expression gave her a massive hint that I was a complete novice. That was the start of a brief but amusing relationship between an accomplished French speaking tutor and a incompetent student.

Anyway, as the weeks flew by I became slightly better but I had developed a way of speaking French in the style of Charles Asnavour, complete with a little shake of the head. I can’t remember the tutors name (Sorry Madame) But she appeared to be more than happy with my enthusiasm, which probably explained why she tolerated my way of murdering the language she obviously loved.

It came towards the end of the subject and I had been paired up with a younger woman to speak for 10 or 15 minutes entirely in French. She was far more advanced than I, so she helped me as much as she could during the weeks of practice before the exam.

The exam began very well, better than I had hoped for. We were having a conversation about staying in a coastal town in France and choosing a restaurant to eat in,  that sold seafood. We were both sat side by side, in front of separate computers, speaking into a mic with headphones on. Three quarters of the way through the exam I glanced at her and she looked so happy, literally beaming with confidence. That was the turning point! What I had learnt regarding the rest of the practised conversation escaped my panicked brain, and flew out of the open window to flutter around the city below, abandoning me at my hour of need!

I looked at my speaking partner and listened to her perfect French until it was my turn. I couldn’t remember anything! I continued to stare at her whilst she tried in vain to prompt me without talking, moving her arms around wildly in a game of French charades! Her rising panic caused me to nervously laugh and all I could think of that vaguely resembled French was Rene from the British sit-com Allo Allo. So I spoke the remaining few minutes of the exam as Rene, saying random words in a French accent with English words!!

At least my insane, desperate impression gave my partner the opportunity to complete her part of the exam! At one point the tutor passed behind our computers without looking down at us and I could see her mouth attempting to stifle a laugh.

The end of the exam finally came and my partner jumped to her feet, gripping the arms of her swivel chair with white knuckles and without saying a word, picked up her bag and walked away, her expression resembling that of a potential mass Murderer. I didn’t even get the chance to apologise. I watched her walk out of the classroom as I muttered ‘Au revoir ‘ in her direction!

Remarkably, I actually passed my exam and the whole French course and I have no idea how!

So that’s it, my total journey into learning French. So it’s au revoir from me and merci for reading.

Gunstones’ Smoke Shelter

In relation to the posts I wrote about working at Gunstones Bakery, the smoke shelter attached to the factory was a place to let the smoke blow out of the anus if anyone was having a shitty night or to swap funny stories.

The smoke shelter was built like a cage to keep the tigers from running back into the free world and there were always the same faces dotted around the cage, the smoke was often dense and the humour raw and imaginative. Some extremely intelligent individuals worked there and I guess if Brexit had been negotiated by everyone in that smoke shelter (Multiple nationalities) then there would have been no deal, but nobody would have cared or held a grudge, we’d have just smoked the shit out of it. Joe, Matt and Jimmy were mainstays, especially Jimmy, who spent most of his time smoking when he should have been working! Joe was there more often than not with his aunt Karen. Matt always assumed the same position, leaning on a waist high steel barrier, ploughing his way through 2 or 3 cigarettes, chipping in with funny quips before returning to the factory floor.

The banter was always lively and no holds barred, each foreign individual firing out a one-liner in their own pigeon English, which gave it even more of a comedic edge. Marian, a large jovial Romanian man mountain, would chip into the banter by referring to people as superheroes. He was the Hulk, then there was Batman and Spider-Man. He often referred to me as Batman or Freddie Mercury simply because I wore a moustache. Marian once or twice smuggled in a small bottle of Romanian liquor (Against company policy) he called Palinka, which he described in a funny way. He discovered myself and Joe liked Whiskey and he told us that Whiskey was for children, holding his hand to his waist, and that Palinka was for men, holding his hand above his head. We had a quick gulp on a couple of occasions and it went down the gullet like molten lava, casually stripped away the stomach lining and rushing to the head like a hungry T-Rex, feasting on our senses! A Bloody good alternative to dynamite!

We had some great laughs down there talking utter bollocks that somehow made sense to everyone there. I remember me, Joe and Karen sharing a joke about something or other and I had an itch on the back of my neck. For some reason I scratched it with the fingers that held my cigarette and burnt my neck, dropping the fag into the puddle of rain I was standing in. We laughed because I had been stupid enough to use the burning fag hand and not my free hand.

Me and Matt would torment Jimmy, joking about Jimmy’s taut little bottom and openly discussing what we would do to him sexually whilst we kept straight faces! Jimmy would always rear up and defend his Virginial bottom which just threw petrol onto the fire!

In the most genial way we took the piss and had the urine extracted which enabled all of us to bond naturally.

Great times, thanks for the memories Mr Smoke Shelter.