Moonlight Shadow

To be honest, I would rather not write anything this week and there are a hundred places I would rather be than my own skin.

To be honest, I would rather not write anything this week and there are a hundred places I would rather be than my own skin.

I think my eyesight is on the way out. At silly o’clock yesterday morning, I was hoovering in preparation for a flying visit from the kids.

I spent a good minute on a mysterious dark patch that had suddenly appeared on the living room floor, yet it was only when I got on my hands and knees that I realised it was my own shadow.

I had a good laugh at that one and so did Henry the Hoover. I sometimes look across the room at little Henry’s annoying grin.

It reminds me of that film, Castaway, with Tom Hanks, where all he has to keep him company on a desert island is a volleyball called Wilson.

But while the Butchelor Pad may indeed be deserted, this is no desert island.

I have both lukewarm and cold running water.

To prove it I got a massive water bill through the letterbox this week which made the old eyes water.

Then Vodafone texted with a grossly offensive bill from last month – three times my usual amount.

Readers will remember that when I moved in here, I racked up hours on hold to the various utility companies – burning through my monthly data allowance.

The irony of getting a massive bill from the water company for telling them I exist and a massive bill from the telephone company for doing so, made my neck twitch.

I had to sit down for a while with a stiff eye-opener having felt another stabbing pain in the chest (pocket).

I’m glad to report though that the big sister is back – safe, sound and bronzed from a week in balmy Madeira.

Despite me having taken charge of all three of her delinquent dogs, there has been no phone call from her to ‘touch base’.

Like many now, she communicates entirely via Facebook where I notice she apparently went on a Jeep Safari.

I’m just relieved nobody shot her – easy as she is to mistake for a Gazelle.

I also read this week that Liam Gallagher from Oasis has packed in the drink and the smokes – yet still manages to sing like he is shouting up a drainpipe.

And on YouTube, I saw a clip of Bez from the Happy Mondays who has been ruining a ruined reputation by taking the shilling from dancing on ice.

Even the hell-raisers of my youth are handing over their badges and guns, and it pains me to watch.

Apparently, it is the winter Olympics somewhere in the world and given how cold the Butchelor Pad has been, I know how the competitors feel.

So I was dutybound to pull on my winter coat and go in search of a real roaring fire.

I met a young man at a bar who told me he peels potatoes for a living – starting at 6am, finishing at 2pm.

He philosophically shrugged it off as “a job’s a job at the end of the day,” and when I looked, it was a relief to see no chips on his shoulders.

At another establishment, I heard someone else say the exact same expression as they bemoaned their own nine to five.

But what about the start of the day? Or is making money to meet the bills all we are here for?

On my travels, I got talking to a bar maid who was telling me in vivid detail where she plans to put everything in her new house.

She was very excited and I suppose saying it aloud helps her visualise where things might go.

But by the time she finished, I felt like I personally had moved in every stick of furniture and put up every shelf, which was quite exhausting.

It has been quiet this week on the old music front, and I could bore you with Luke Kelly of The Dubliners and a song called the Bonny Shoals of Herring.

It reminds me of going off shore with a rum bunch of fishermen from Maryport for a feature I wrote for a magazine a lifetime ago.

It’s probably better you watch it yourself and make your own mind up.

Having just waved both girls off on the night train, I have returned to the chiller to find a half-nibbled chocolate heart lolly that I bought one of them for Valentine’s Day.

It breaks mine to even contemplate throwing it away.

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.