So Far, So Bad

The week started off well enough but as is so often the case it went downhill the longer it went on.

The week started off well enough but as is so often the case it went downhill the longer it went on.

Last Sunday on my 50th birthday, I was enjoying a lie-in on the morning after a very big night before.

I haven’t slept very well these past couple of years so when I heard a knock at the door I was in no mood for leaping out of bed.

The letterbox slapped and there was the distinctive rustle of post landing on my doormat.

I dwelt on this and then the penny dropped – it must be a last-minute birthday card and hand-delivered no less.

Maybe it was a make-up card from a long-forgotten old flame? I have been thinking about her recently. Surely 30-odd years should be plenty of time for her to realise the error of her ways.

And who else would be shoving post through my door on the morning of my 50th? It must be a birthday card from someone significant…

When you’re old, free and vulnerable – you get in to silly thinking patterns like this.

Full of intrigue and possibility, I bounded down all 13 stairs and picked up the post to tear it open.

It was a flyer from the local Green Party candidate and I must say, I haven’t been that disappointed since the release of Be Here Now (25 years ago).

I trudged back upstairs, put the kettle on and adjourned to the fire escape to enjoy yet another Hamlet cigar moment.

The humourless so-and-so’s stopped doing the adverts in 1991.

Not that I could watch them now even if they still made them.

The Butchelor Pad is a TV-free zone so during bouts of insomnia I play music and obsess over clever lyrics.

The oldest of old flames liked Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics – Love Is A Stranger (1982) which still sounds fresh 40 years on, and, of course, the late Meatloaf, Two out of Three Ain’t Bad (1978).

Meatloaf was the nearest music got to a one-man rock opera. I always felt some of his stuff went on a bit too long.

I was also stumped by a recent quiz question asking me to name a more successful female-male duo than Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart?

But I did at least get a genuine laugh from my sister’s birthday card.

‘Brother. You are an example to us all*

*Not a good example. More a not what to do!

I was also very moved by all the birthday messages and feedback to my last column.

The day after my 50th, I received an email from my sister recommending a firm to sort out my will, which means she won’t now be getting my record collection. That was followed by a text message from the doctor’s inviting me in for a blood pressure check.

How do they know I’ve just received my new council tax demand?

And the landlady at the local pub pulled me to one side and cautioned me against sitting where I have. Apparently I have chosen the ‘Stool of Death’.

The last four fellas who have sat there have all died within two years,’ she warned. I asked had they been waiting to get served, but I’m not sure she heard.

My attention was then drawn to a framed photograph on the pub wall that I had never noticed before.

It shows a full-sized model skeleton sitting at the same stool with a pint.

It does explain why that spot has never been taken every time I’ve called in.

Yet all it does is make me doubly determined to prove the superstitions wrong.

It’s true that black cats scarper from me whenever I cross their paths and lone magpies have been known to salute me as I drive by.

But given that I now have to park my car 1.7 miles away from the Butchelor Pad due to a lack of spaces, all this extra walking should do me no harm.

So imagine my surprise on Tuesday morning when I opened the front door to go to work and found myself under a ladder -propped directly over my threshold.

The man at the top shouted down that he was painting the front of the building.

I joked that he might give the windows a clean while he was up there, but it was not taken in the spirit intended.

I was lucky not to get a bucket of emulsion over my head.

I read this week that the link between walking under a ladder and bad luck dates back to the gallows – so expect to read next week about me having crashed into a shop selling mirrors.

But this week I also found a single white feather stuck in a cobweb on the fire escape and defying the wind.

I have also spotted clumps of purple crocus poking up through the turf in a sure sign that we got through January and spring is coming.

Happy New Tear

I spent a good 20 minutes of New Year’s Day bawling my eyes out and the December credit card bill hasn’t even arrived yet.

I spent a good 20 minutes of New Year’s Day bawling my eyes out and the December credit card bill hasn’t even arrived yet.

It was nothing specific, just my usual gremlins, and for me the clock always ticks loudest at this time of the year.

You may as well start 2022 as you mean to go on, I quipped, blowing my nose.

And as people are inclined to advise: “crying’s healthy.”

Not when you’re doing it while driving up the pitch black M6 in biblical rain, it isn’t, having said goodbye to the kids for another fortnight.

I blame the new CD in the car that I picked up on a flying visit to Morecambe – Tony Christie’s Definitive Collection (£1.65) -from Cancer Research UK.

After Vegas floor-fillers like Amarillo and I Did What I Did For Maria, it’s downhill all the way.

Solitaire, Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, Most Beautiful Girl and So Deep The Night would bring tears to a glass eye.

The television on the countdown to New Year was reliably awful. Jools Holland still doing his stuff on one side and some nobody on the other, so we played Trivial Pursuit.

I could have cried when the eldest was asked to name which cricket ground in London – home to Test cricket – is named after a shape.

“The Circle?” came the answer.

A refresher course in the nation’s sporting grounds could well be going on her New Year’s resolutions, which the sister comically dismisses as a “to-do list for the first week of January.”

Another good Trivial Pursuit question which taxed the mind was: “Barry Manilow got to number 1 in 1976 with the song I Write The Songs Which Make The Whole World Sing – but did he write it?”

My biggest personal resolution is to abandon all hope of ever writing a book. It is the only achievement I’ve effortlessly maintained for 30 years, so this blog may have to do instead.

And it must be knocking on 30 years since I last watched the film Alive: The Miracle of the Andes (1993).

I was very impressionable back then and I remember hoping that one day in the future I might blossom in to the kind of man shown by Nando Parrado. He bravely led the 10-day climb out of the mountains to get help after the 1972 plane crash.

Then it dawned on me that I had barely been able to get my sister’s impossible gas fire going while she was away visiting friends in Covid capital.

(She is back today and was positive she was negative, which she was.)

And with my 50th birthday now howling at the door this month, I recognised to my horror that the type of bloke I have grown in to is probably more accurately reflected in Alive in the on-screen portrayal of Bobby Francois.

Bobby pretty much spends the entire disaster sitting on his arse chain-smoking outside the devastated fuselage.

Breaking his silence only to interject with some unhelpful truths about their probable fate and the futility of it all.

I’m not sure if it’s a faithful representation of him, but when they wish “Happy New Year,” I’m inclined to reply: “Says who?”