Butchelor Pad

After all that snivelling on New Tears Day things seem to be looking up because as you read this I am now the proud new renter of a one-bed “Butchelor” pad.

After all that snivelling on New Tears Day things seem to be looking up because as you read this I am now the proud new renter of a one-bed “Butchelor” pad.

It is accessed up a very steep flight of 13 steps and yet the nearest pub is only 20 from my front door so what could possibly go wrong?

There’s a Chinese takeaway only a short “wok” away and my lofty perch at the rear commands stunning views over next door’s wheelie bins and a frozen car park.

To toast my good fortune, I called in at my new local and a sign on the wall immediately caught my eye.

“If you didn’t drink, how would you let people know you love them at 2am?”

And do you know that within seconds of my sitting down by the blazing fire with a cold one, a bloke got up and put the following three songs on the jukebox.

Rod Stewart’s 1972 You Wear It Well – a personal favourite – followed by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’s Come Up & See Me (Make Me Smile) (1975).

A former editor of mine was a massive Steve Harley fan and I have always found that Come Up and See Me goes down well with pints of bitter.

Last of the three plays for £1 on the jukebox by our hero was Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds (1965).

It was the curtain-closer at are mam’s cremation three years ago this month, except her version was Bob Dylan’s. We carried her in on Paul Simon’s Graceland (1986) and she departed to Dylan.

And I was reminded this week that she always had a thing about coming back as a robin, because on three consecutive days a big fat one hopped to within six feet of me in the sister’s backyard to size me up.

I’ve offered bread but it didn’t seem bothered. Maybe it wants a light?

This string of coincidences all struck me as very positive omens and even if they aren’t, I have to say that finding a jukebox these days with those three songs still on it, has to be as good a way of spending a quid that I can think of in 2022.

You see, most modern music leaves me cold and I wouldn’t walk to the end of next door’s wheelie bins to see most of them.

Those marvellous musical eccentrics that made the UK charts so varied and interesting all seem to have disappeared now.

Renee and Renato – 40-years ago this year – wouldn’t happen now – although that’s not entirely a loss, but nor would Captain Sensible, Bad Manners or Toyah.

Earlier this week, I had to break the news to the big sister that I was moving out. I interrupted her as she was playing Trivial Pursuit with my malnourished nephew, Tom, aged 20.

Tom set a personal best this Christmas by eating three whole selection boxes in one sitting. Until he materialised mid-afternoon and confessed, her three semi-feral hounds had all been in the dog house.

But three selection boxes is still some way short of the record set by his older brother Jack.

Legend has it that Jack polished off five chicken breasts in one night and left the family without a meal, and in my book that’s the kill-rate of a werewolf.

And speaking of all things lunar, I arrived back at the big sister’s to break the news – just as she asked the question: “Where did the Great Fire of London start?”

“London,” I said, closing the front door.

On hearing I was off, I could tell she was privately devastated but putting on a brave face as she choked on her warm tears.

Why else would she demand I open a long-chilled magnum of Asti Spumante and then personally embark on an enthusiastic start of all my packing?

And speaking of the Great Fire of London, did you know that axes were used to help put it out?

It’s true.

It wouldn’t be the first thing I would grab in an inferno but I suppose a lot of the buildings were wooden in 1666.

But I have nothing to fear from fires because the big sis also then did a Tarot card reading for me and the gods are saying that financial success and romance are all on the cards for me this year, she insists.

Emboldened by my rare turn of luck, I dropped a line to a female friend of old who regularly enjoys telling me that she is a Strong Independent Woman.

Given the angle of my new staircase, I could do with a Strong Independent Woman to help with all those boxes, so I suggested that she start 2022 by downsizing to a Weak Co-Dependent Man.

Strong Independent Woman has been down in the dumps recently so to cheer her up I thought about buying her a big bunch of flowers.

But then that got me thinking about that old advert for Impulse bodyspray.

When a man you’ve never met before suddenly gives you flowers, isn’t it time to reach for the CS gas and then report it as a non-crime hate incident?

So as you read this, you find me up to my neck in cardboard boxes.

Failing that at weekends I will be in my new local with pound coins burning a hole in my pocket.

That is until the Strong Independent Woman decides to come up and see me and make me smile.

Cozzer Covid

It was all going swimmingly until December 29 when the offer of a temporary bed that I was supposed to be laying in was suddenly withdrawn late in the day – “cozzer Covid”.

IT has been a peaceful Christmas week and I have stuck to my usual monk-like discipline of total abstinence and only light wafer-based snacks.

It was all going swimmingly until December 29 when the offer of a temporary bed that I was supposed to be laying in was suddenly withdrawn late in the day – “cozzer Covid”.

So I did what any self-respecting credit card holder does and took myself off for a night in the Lake District – booking last minute into a palace in the middle of nowhere for drinks by the holly-lined fireside and a slap-up beef dinner for one.

I’ve never dined in a draughty aircraft hangar before, but can now summon up a fairly reliable image of what it must be like. The very attentive member of waiting staff explained that they had been required to extend the chairs and tables into the conference centre/function room, cozzer Covid.

The plates were the size of chargers and the starter was with me before I had unfolded my napkin. The main course included huge soft cuts of beef, the creamiest mashed potatoes, sprouts you could actually taste and gravy you could drink by the pint.

I distantly mingled with some hardy pensioners from Wigan who had spent the day staring at the drizzle from the windows of a fogged-up coach trip which, of course, had very nearly been cancelled at the last minute because five of the party pulled out cozzer you know what.

“Not that they had it, but that they were scared of getting it,” said my informant.

“The company had thought about cancelling but if they had done, there would have been absolute uproar.

“We only come away the three of us – me and me Mam and me Dad because we haven’t seen them the same this year, cozzer Covid,” she sighed as the rain hosed the windows and Let It Snow played over the speakers.

I noticed the background music in the hotel was about four fractions too low on the volume for me; although like I said to her: “My hearing aid isn’t what it once was.”

“It’s been a dead day today because there’s nothing to do around here,” she added dismissively. (The hotel being somewhat socially distanced from civilisation).

At the bar, there was quite the socially-distanced queue for drinks too because a couple of staff had managed to socially distance themselves from going to work, presumably because of you know what.

So it was left to the blue-arsed ones to wait on, clear up, serve on, check people in and remain patient and smiling throughout, having festooned the room with lovely Christmas trees.

The music was marred for me when I detected this joyful little trio of upbeat numbers Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; Phil Collins’ I Wish It Would Rain Down and These Are The Days Of Our Lives by Queen.

I spent far too much time contemplating whether Phil Collins had ever been to the Lake District. Probably not on the evidence of this weather.

Still, like I always say, you’ve always got to look on the dull side of life.

And spare a thought for the geriatric cat of a friend of a friend of a friend.

Its thoughtful owner had decided that after one last Christmas together it would have to go for one last visit to the vets this week. Its explosive bowels and poor bladder control have added a new dimension to the term kitty litter.

But in an 11th hour day of drama, reported to me by the Non Practising Buddhist Big Sister, the latest word is that the owner has now tested positive for Covid and must self-isolate, so Kitty gets a stay of execution for another week.

All because of Covid.