Monday, 30 November 2009

Laptops and cowpats

I have spent the evening wrestling with laptops - installing anti-virus software and word processing gubbins.
Everything works now, but it took a long time.
I was staring at Younger Daughter's new Dell Inspiron for a long time, wondering why my mood was getting darker and darker.
So I changed the desktop background from some angular beatbox things in black and white to a curved pink design and immediately felt better.
I even made some chocolate chip cookies while Mrs H was studying sinews or ligaments or something, and Reg scooped up the bits I dropped.
They came out of the oven looking like very hot cowpats. Reg and I looked at each other and decided they were probably supposed to look like that.
We ate a bit each and they tasted a lot better than they looked. Mrs H ate a bit too, but she was concentrating so hard on sinews or ligaments or something that she would probably have eaten an actual cowpat if it had been put in front of her.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


I had forgotten how great it was to stand in a very small room with a very loud rock band going at it full pelt.
Fire For Effect rehearsed in one of those very small rooms at South Devon College tonight, comprising two former members of the lost-in-orbit Space Beacon Earth and a guitarist. There was no bass player present tonight, which was probably a good thing for my ears.
I got there straight from running - cold, wet, windblown and knackered - and felt considerably better the minute I got in through the door.
They are good, of course, proper musicians, and it won't be long before they're ready to go public. Brixham's Room Upstairs in January, probably.
And it's a good set list that I won't divulge for fearing of spoiling the show.
But when you've just done one of Alan's running sessions in a howling wind that almost brings you to a standstill, there's no substitiute for a few power chords and a drum that goes right through your solar plexus and out the other side to make you feel a whole lot better.
Trouble is, I can't hear a thing now.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Winter draws on...

Younger Daughter is home in Bristol again after her birthday visit.
She joined us for the big quiz on Friday night, and helped us to a frustrating third place out of more than 40 teams. Frustrating because we have been second and third and third and second so many times, but have never won it.
This year a round on the songs of Kylie Minogue caught us out. For a start, we couldn't work out where one clip finished and the next one started.
Lovely girl, though.
We looked round the table for inspiration - Mrs H, Younger Daughter, The Caerphilly Kid, Caerphilly Kid's daughter, Bazza, Other Bazza, Lee, Shaun, Mrs Shaun, Their was a big team, but none of us Kylie fans.
On Saturday I was warm and dry in the press box while Mrs H and Younger Daughter suffered the wind and rain on the Pop Side, and defeat at the hands of Rotherham United.
And that's when winter really kicked in.
Gale force winds tugged at the slates on the roof overnight and squalls came in like someone throwing handfuls of gravel at the windows.
Nine ships sheltered out in the bay - tugs, tankers, cargo ships and coasters. Time is money, so it must have been bad out beyond the protection of the headlands to drive them into the bay to drop anchor for the night.
Flotsam appeared on the beach when we went down there with Reg and Baxter. It won't be long before the winter jetsam joins it - washing powder boxes from Europe, plastic pots with Japanese script on them, lengths of rope and net and odd shoes.
Fulton Mackay made a whole house out of it in 'Local Hero'. Maybe I'll do the same down at Saltern Cove.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Pointy hats

DESPITE what Mrs H says, they are pointy hats.
I got to wear one, but not for long. It had to go back to its rightful place, on the head of Older Daughter, whose graduation ceremony took place in Bristol Cathedral yesterday.
She's in this picture, so it's a 'Where's Wally' quest if you want to find her.

She went up and received the acknowledgement of someone called the Pro Chancellor. I was pleased that they hadn't sent an amateur one, but it was gently pointed out that that was not what it meant.
Then we drank champagne and ate caramel shortbreads in a marquee, and mingled with the rest of the graduates and their parents who, like us, were absolutely bursting with pride.
It seems such a short time since she was a baby in a peach blanket; since she was a bridesmaid in a purple dress and fell asleep on my shoulder during the disco; since she threw her shoes at the wall and shouted and hated her parents, and now she's a Bachelor of Science with the whole world at her feet.
I didn't cry, but it was close.
Her sister is close behind her, training to be a teacher and practising with children at a tiny backstreet school in Bristol, hemmed in by pubs and houses and little factories. On the wall of her student flat is a hand drawn picture from one of the children in her class. It says "Thank you Miss Henderson".
When I saw that I didn't cry again, but again it was close.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Personal Best

It was a grumpy day today.
Several things wound my clock today, namely...
A national newspaper exploiting a mother's terrible grief to fit its own agenda;
Another national newspaper marking the 20th anniversary of the unification of a great nation and the end of generations of tyranny by giving away DVDs portraying the glory of war;
A whole nation gripped by X-Factor, not caring that they are being conned, swindled and manipulated by The Man, man;
Another professional footballer cheating his way to success, and the sport accepting that it's now just something that happens;
Rain falling steadily throughout my morning walk with Reg;
My website not loading properly.
Boy, was I grumpy today.
Then I ran a personal best, and everything got better.
We did a 3k time trial tonight. Jamie The Legs flew, as did Sun God and the rest. The Caerphilly Kid knocked a huge chunk off his personal best.
For me it felt as if it was going well. I don't have a stopwatch, so pacing is down to precision, experience and the fact that I am going as fast as I bloody well can at any given moment, stopwatch or no stopwatch.
But when I found I was 10 seconds behind the last runner in the men's race coming up Sands Road (I counted from the time he passed the gates of St Andrews until the time I passed them), and I was still exactly 10 seconds behind him at the finish, there was a danger of the grumpy cloud settling over me again.
But then Alan read the times out and it transpired the whole men's race was pretty fast, and I was a whole three seconds faster than I have ever done that course before.
Good stuff, and i think I know where I can take a chunk off next time...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Best day of the season (2)

...and how about that?
Torquay United 3-1 Cheltenham Town, and off to the second round we go.
Told you it was going to be a good day.

Best day of the season

HERE in the press box at Plainmoor it's a little after 2.30 and it's the best day of the season.
It's FA Cup first round day and there is no other day like it if you follow a team in the lower divisions.
You get drawn against another team at random, maybe even a team from a different league. And while none of the teams playing in the first round today will win the FA Cup, one of them will get to the Fifth Round or maybe even the sixth, and we will all be right behind them.
Today Torquay entertain Cheltenham. I am the consummate professional, covering the game impartially of course. But inside I am 10 years old again....

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Bad blogger

Nine days and no blog.
Many excuses - learning to cook, watching TV instead, going to the pub, trying to write something of substance, sleeping, reading, listening to music.
Bad blogger.
Tonight the question - is Robert Kilroy-Silk really Nick Griffin Lite? The right-wing extremist you could take home to your mum.
Some of the things he said on Question Time tonight made the audience gasp.
And tonight, for the second time this week, we have been running in heavy, cold rain. Winter is fast approaching, even in the warm west of England.
Puddles and street lights, chip shops and junctions - all the beauties of running around town in the dark. We stand in the car park afterwards and steam gently, then make arrangements to do it all again on Sunday, or on Tuesday.
Tomorrow night we quiz at the Inn on the Quay. The Caerphilly Kid and I are masters of ceremony, and loads of people say they are coming.
And all the time the blog goes untended, and the literature of substance remains unwritten...
Bad blogger.