House of Cards

Well this is a first. I am writing this first bit of this week’s blog at a Mustard gig on a Friday night. Firstly, I never pre-write these things, certainly not on my phone as the spelling will be carnage and at most gigs there isn’t time.

Tonight is different as there are two bands on and so we have some down time whilst the other lot do their thing.

We have done our first “spot” and they are now on their second before we close the night in a bit. The place is rammed and therefore the band not currently on stage (us) has nowhere to sit so I am tucked away in a stairwell listening to a long string of songs I’d forgotten and frankly I was glad to. Well executed they are, but a bit too predictably pub rock for my tastes.

I’m also starving as I had to come straight from work (well I shot home to walk the dogs and load the gear) so all I can think of now is what I’m going to eat when I get in. You see, it’s this rock and roll lifestyle that has denied me a six pack. Eating that late is not a good thing no matter how amazing it tastes and feels. It’s those thoughts of food which will normally distract me mid set and cause me to make a right ricket in a song or two.

The week just gone has been another meeting fest. After a while, sitting in meetings, just contemplating all the stuff building up that you should be doing but can’t, as you are in a meeting, just gets stressful. Again, I can drift off mid meeting thinking about that and of course what I’m going to eat. That’s pretty much a constant if I’m honest.

At this point, Friday’s writing stopped, I did some bass playing and writing was resumed on Sunday.

The other theme of this week has been that our house is falling down. I am not one to over exaggerate the negative as you will know, but things are just getting stupid now. We have a broken dishwasher, which refuses to run a cycle and instead puts on a dazzling performance of flashing lights. I have googled this stuff and the results are full of all men who can handle a tool belt talking about how easy it is to just take the thing to bits, clean some sensor or other and then put it back together.

In our house that just leads to a dishwasher in a thousand pieces, me in a rage and dishwasher sales going up by one. I am in the process of securing a repair person to come and make the problem go away.

We also lost one of our curtains in our bedroom. They just fell down. They were hung on rickety old tracks/runners or whatever you call them and I’ve just been ignoring the fixing or replacing of that as there are literally 671,234 things I’d rather do instead. So now we are paying the price and it serves me right that Louise is using the opportunity to look at some of these fandangled shutter things. Again, folks will be arriving to measure, quote and bankrupt us.

Then on Saturday, Louise was opening one of our fancy, hydraulicy, lift up doors on one of our top kitchen cupboards and that fell off too. How we laughed. Again, having spent moments looking at it, drawing on previous countless similar experiences, I declined the urge to try and fix it myself and I shall again support the local tradesman economy and hopefully they are coming tomorrow.

This series of unfortunate events has been taken as a message that the house may now be showing the signs of all our great holidays and we need to sort it out. A list is being drawn up and projects are beginning. I am a little bit afraid.

Amidst all this carnage a normalish weekend was attempted. Bean went for a haircut yesterday and has spent the hours afterwards shivering and giving us dirty looks.

Then, in the evening Louise and I went out for some tea at our local authentic Italian restaurant, Frankie and Bennys….. I over use the Kevin Spacey gif but it does serve almost every purpose and would work again here….before heading to the cinema next door. Twice in two weeks. Crazy I know.

This time (and I’ll just point out here that again it was Louise’s choice) we watched Glass.

Image result for glass film

We both loved the previous film in this series, Split, and thought James McAvoy was excellent in it. He was again very good in Glass, but alas, in our view the film itself was, and I shall try to be all highbrow and analytical here, a bit shit.

The premise is that McAvoy is a person with multiple personalities and struggles as they battle for “the light”. In this film, seeing that Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis were in it, it looked like little could go wrong. It did.

I won’t spoilt it, but there’s a comic book theme to this one, which, not being in any way a comic book fan or indeed very fond of any super hero films to be honest, it left me and Louise a bit cold. The film didn’t really feel like it knew what it wanted to be and the dark, evil themes of the first were lost as demonstrated when the last twenty minutes sees Samuel L Jackson sat in a wheelchair in a car park in a purple shiny suit. It was, at best a lost opportunity to showcase McAvoy’s incredible range playing the 20+ characters in one body. Anyway, my ice cream was delicious. A three scoop, Rum and Raisin, Chocolate and Strawberry bowl of pleasure, so every cloud etc.

Right, I must away, to secure other parts of our house of cards before this anarchy gets any worse.

Till the next time…..

I Don’t Want To Build A Snowman

I left you last week with a cliffhanger about us going to the cinema. It was the equivalent of the Netflix thing of just having to watch the next episode and the fact that you are here now proves that you could not resist knowing what happened next…yes?

To prove that point, I was inundated with a request to give my feedback on our experience.

It was decent. A strong start, quite sweet, but went to pieces towards the end. But enough about my bag of popcorn, we watched The Favourite and enjoyed it very much.

It’s a two-hour job, so that’s either good value for money or a reason to take a cushion with you. You may be aware, from previous bloggage of my absolute hatred of period dramas. This is more to do with their ever-presence on Sunday night telly as some omnipresent reminder that Monday is coming for you and it ain’t gonna be pretty. So this probably wouldn’t have been my first choice for a film to watch, but Louise was very keen, and the reviews had been very favourable so I allowed Louise to watch it.

Image result for spacey gif side eye

It was a really enjoyable watch. It became clear early on that they were using modern language so you won’t be battling with thees and thous, but you will encounter some colourful words of a very modern nature.

The story, whilst not a blockbuster style action fest held the interest with ease and there were several very funny moments too. The ending was just a bit weird if I am honest but I won’t spoil it of course. All in all, I give it four out of five stars and a strong Mkingdon thumbs up. I do wish I had gone Pick N Mix, but we had plans for a large tea that evening and I didn’t want to be spoiling that, but I knew I’d regret it! Life is cruel at times.

The working week has been a little more bearable than last, mainly due to a couple of snow days at home which always make working more pleasant. The snow and ice have made other tasks more challenging when really it just shouldn’t. Simple jobs like walking the dogs turned into a form of water skiing with me gliding across the ice ridden pavements whilst Oli and Bean searched out their next sniffing place, typically three feet from the last. With the fields temporarily being snow crusted delights and not the usual mud fests they are for six months of the year it did allow me to venture onto the local playing fields and let them have a good run without ending the walk like a Tough Mudder contestant. This does tire them out which makes for a more peaceful evening.

Things got very real in this laughable snowmageddon when the bin collections were cancelled on Wednesday which means we are now two weeks away from the next one and facing endless fun and games with our plastics and cardboard. In a time before my blogs, I do wonder how you made your lives work without such crucial updates.

The ultimate travesty was when I went to do our usual weekly big shop. I have long since stopped venturing to an actual shop to do this. It is an online experience and usually works out well. Upon starting up the app I discovered that every delivery slot for the next four days was full. Now, either they had cancelled deliveries due to the light dusting of the white stuff or the entire population of Bolton has decided to stock pile three months worth of food to cover the next few days of nasty weather. Brexit? What could possibly go wrong?

Now I have to actually leave the house and go to the supermarket and undertake a “Click and Collect”. I shall be taking a receipt so they can reimburse my fuel expenses. So enough snow now thanks, as we just cannot function in its presence.

With that click and collecting the next task on my endless list of weekend chores I shall leave you having uplifted your Sunday with these essential and world-changing updates of my week.

Till the next time…..

Winter, Work and Whinging

Note to self. Don’t take time off work ever again. Sure, it’s all fun and games when you’re knee-deep in Homes Under The Hammer, viewing it through a hazy vista of drugs and self-pity, but when the inevitable return to work happens there’s more payback than you can shake a pack of paracetamol at.

So this week I have been in a meeting. I think there were changes of subject at times, but from the start of Monday until late Friday I was either physically in a meeting, some of which were down south, or sat on conference calls not quite being able to hear people, asking who has just joined and confirming that yes I can see your screen. I’ve had better weeks. All of this was endured manfully whilst still not being 100% fully fit. This lurgy just will not die.

Sure, earlier generations had jobs like coal mining, and at times that could be tough I’m sure, but they will never appreciate the misery of working in a warm office, filled with free coffee, having to listen to some blert talking down the phone line about the art of the possible and reaching out. The first victim of a conference call is my will to live.

To continue my ill-advised and unjustified whinging, added to all of this was the soul-destroying relentless winter weather. Everything feels harder in these dark, wet, cold and sometimes snowy months. Indeed, my drive down to Marlow earlier in the week was remarkable for the snow which seemed to follow me all the way down, only to be joined by freezing fog from somewhere around Warwick. I ended the drive realising that I had everything tensed with concentration for the previous four hours. I yearn for the more relaxed, lighter and warmer times for those three days in July when you don’t need a coat.

Louise now finds herself full of a cold. Clearly, it isn’t the same illness as I had. There’s no way she could handle that level of illness of course. Her affliction is a little more traditional than mine, as the mucus excess is real whereas I was too ill for such trivialities. I doubt I am to blame for passing that along. More likely she has picked it up from one of her many patients whilst undertaking one of the unmentionable procedures and treatments on them. Again, I’m sure that’s a tough job, but there’s no comparison as sometimes I have to work from home and do things like create Powerpoint presentations or write some emails. As the song goes, nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.

With us both feeling less than brilliant, last night, with a weekend off from Mustarding, we took the chance to order in a curry and binge watch something. We absorbed all of Killing Eve off of the iPlayer and loved it. It was one of those things we’d heard good things about but hadn’t got round to watching. If you are in that same boat, seek it out. It’s a good one.

We are hoping to venture out later to the cinema to watch The Favourite so I can provide another gloriously in-depth review of that next time if I remember. I am the Barry Norman of Bolton. Anyway, things to do, must crack on….

Till the next time…..

Ill Behaviour.

Thanks for all your well wishes last week. They didn’t work, but thanks anyway.

Sweet Jesus monkey balls, I have been ill. Whatever it was that came for me took me out at the knees and reduced me to a sweaty, quivering, moaning mess for all of last week and I’m still not 100% yet. So this week’s musings will be brief again due to my continued roughness and the fact that you really don’t want me to document what I did last week. It was not pleasant.

It wasn’t a traditional cold or similar as I have been without the trademark excess mucus. Instead, it has been a high temperature that has seen me hot, cold and everything in between in the space of a few minutes. At its peak, I have been rocking myself back and forwards in bed, emitting low moans pleading for help or death, whichever would be quickest. Sleep has been a stranger for most of the week too due to the fact that I was instead locked in some hallucinogenic hell, with every muscle aching and a headache like Oliver Reed’s throughout the seventies.

It was only on Friday that I started to return to normality, and beyond bored with daytime TV and watching emails build up in my Inbox I did some work from home. I won’t claim it was my most productive day, but having lost almost a full week and cancelled more meetings than I care to think about, I felt better somehow having got back into it on a Friday, so the Monday to come won’t be as gruesome.

I don’t think they got it from me, as they wisely stayed away from my grottiness, but now Tom, Rebecca and Freddie all have colds. They went out last night to celebrate their anniversary and Freddie stayed with us.

A lovely meal, drinks and paracetamol is not the ideal mix for a night out but, they soldiered through and have just taken Freddie home for an afternoon of cuddles and TV on the sofa which always makes things better.

So with apologies for the very poor word count, I have little else to report after my lost week of illness. Hopefully in the coming days I can declare myself back to full fitness and then we can get these blogs back to the thrill a minute action fests they always are. Right?

Till the next time…..

There’s Not A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow……

This time of year is all about tradition. Today, that tradition is me googling ways to fake my own death to avoid having to go back to work. I accept that may be a little over dramatic, but right now, staring down the barrel of having to work for a living again/still, it seems the only viable option.

I have loved my time off and it has again confirmed my belief that I would be the best lottery millionaire on the planet and I demand a chance to verify that fact properly. Surely my balls must drop soon? That didn’t sound right but you know what I mean.

I have done very productive things, like playing my new PS4 games and I have re-watched all of The Thick Of It on Netflix between walking the dogs and (Louise reads this) spending hours on household chores whilst she was having fun at work.

Friday saw me gigging with Mustard again, this time in Blackpool. You can keep your Live Aids. Until you have played a Blackpool club on the first weekend after Christmas and New Year you can’t call yourself a musician. Mustard have had a busy few weeks, so much so that we had to have our band Christmas do last night like taxi drivers do, once the festive stuff is over. We went for a curry and a few drinkies and the fact that I haven’t dared step on the scales since I finished work tells you all you need to know about how I have enjoyed myself gastronomically as a whole and there will be a price to pay for that for sure.

Following last week’s news about Rebecca’s wedding (I know Tom will be an important part of the event, but let’s be honest) the save the dates have been going out this week. At this point little else needs to be done but I know for sure that Rebecca will have lists of stuff picked out already. It’s just how she is wired.

Christmas also saw a couple of Williams households crash into the 21st century. I bought Louise one of those fandangled Alexa things for Christmas and she loved it so much that she then went out and bought another so there could be one in the bedroom too. If you’d told me just a few years ago that my wife had added an Alexa to our bedroom I might have raised an eyebrow. So we are voice activated and futuristic in a big way.

We also got my Mum & Dad one. Then, for my Dad’s birthday yesterday, we added two smart sockets to their set up so they can now turn a couple of lamps on and off with just their voice. It hasn’t escaped me that with a VR headset next to our telly and us all turning stuff on and off with our voices we are finally living in that final scene from Carousel of Progress.

Even the dog looks not too dissimilar from Oli.

Thankfully we won’t be burning turkeys with our voices, more making it less dark or playing an 80’s play list.

Have I made any resolutions for this new year? No. I hate all this New Year, new you shite. If any business sends me an email with that in the title I have to burn their head office down. I should do lots of things of course. I refer you to my earlier comments about my waistline, but I also really need to finish that book I started years ago. I mean the one I am writing (or not) rather than reading, but I should of course read more as well. I could also do with finding a way to earn a living that I truly enjoy, but I guess that applies to most of the working population. I am finding the rat race routine more and more tiresome the older I become. I need to be like those couples on those property shows. One of them makes African pottery out of phlegm and dandruff in their garage and somehow they have a budget of £2.5 million.

So, I intend to milk every moment out of today, doing as little as possible before the horrors of tomorrow. If I didn’t have to walk the dogs I would consider not even getting dressed…yes, I am blogging in my dressing gown…calm yourselves. With the state of my recent diet, I may have to wear it to work too.

I always try to take off a few extra days at the end of the festive period to reduce the horror of the return, but even on the 7th day of the new year there will still be some idiot wishing me a “Happy New Year” or asking me if I had a good Christmas. Just stop it.

If you have been working all the way through, as Louise has, you are well within your rights to call me all the names you are currently muttering under your breath, that’s fine. Allow me to wallow a little.

Alexa, play my EMO play list.

Till the next time……

The Planning Has Begun…..

Right. So, a blog every week about normal life. O….K. Erm……I think I remember how this goes, but bear with, this could be a bigger car crash than normal.

Since we last spoke, we’ve been away on holiday. I’m not sure I mentioned that? I should tell you all about it at some point. I still have had to go to work most days which is remains a source of enormous and constant disappointment, and Louise too finds herself still dealing with all sorts of sores, wounds, weeping things and stuff that oozes to earn a crust. Life is cruel.

We have continued to be delighted by Freddie on a daily basis. He was round at ours yesterday for a few hours whilst Rebecca and Tom were out and about and he is just a constant source of joy. I apply the grandparent’s caveat to that, in that we only see him for a few hours at a time and can hand him back, but he’s just lovely. I know we are biased but he is just a smiling bundle of fun and he makes our day whenever we see him.

I said that he was perfect on holiday and indeed he was. We went out for our Christmas meal this year at a local restaurant and again, he just took it all in, wasn’t an ounce of trouble, which was handy as I was sat next to him, and enthralled the waiting staff.

Many of the comments on the final instalment of the trip report were about booking another trip. I know I always say that won’t be happening, before it then does, but really, honestly, it won’t. That is because other events are in the early planning stages which will involve most of our available funds for the foreseeable.

For those of you that have been around a while and have for reasons I cannot fathom but appreciate, witnessed our family grow up (apart from me) over the years, here comes another landmark.

Rebecca and Tom are getting married, and the planning has begun.

The date they are looking at is in May 2020 and, as anyone who knows Rebecca will appreciate, lists exist, venues have been vetted and one looks to have been selected now. At every significant landmark over the years there is astonishment that it is happening, as surely the girls cannot be old enough to, walk, go to school, go to a gig, have a boyfriend and pretty much everything else they have done right up until producing Freddie. But it does seem that this is real, and all the thoughts I had when we produced two girls about weddings and all that it entails are now a reality.

I think the phrase I am looking for is “shit just got real”.

The venue in the frame is one that is quite close to our house, the Last Drop Village, which makes the most sense from a location point of view and, after laughing out loud at some of the prices from other venues, seems to be the best deal too, so that worked out OK.

I suspect that this whole wedding thing will test my planning skills to the maximum, but Rebecca is the queen of lists and getting stuff done, especially when it is something as important to her as her wedding day. That doesn’t stop me being a little bit scared of what this entails. As part of Mustard, the excellent wedding band in which I attempt to play bass, I have seen quite a few weddings recently and been witness to some of the planning problems that can crop up. I am a little bit afraid. With the collective efforts of Rebecca, Tom, Louise, Emily and myself we shall, I am sure overcome, and hopefully deliver a day that Rebecca (and Tom, but let’s be frank, mostly Rebecca) has dreamt of.

As anyone who has planned and paid for a wedding will know, unless you are significantly more wealthy than I, that does not allow for holidays to happen so alas, there will be no Florida based trips that I can foresee. Lottery wins and gifts from strangers from the internet (let me know if you want my bank details) aside, it won’t be happening.

So welcome back to normal life. I’ve probably forgotten to tell you about other stuff that’s been going on. I am ring rusty (there’s a cream for that) and still in the haze of those days over the Christmas period that nobody knows what to do with themselves so these things might get better as we go. I make no promises.

This one felt like it just arrived on the page like some verbal vomit so let’s hope improvement is the ongoing trend.

Till the next time…..