Where It All Began…..

Rather than subject you to another few hundred words of banality surrounding my dislike for going to work, and joyous news of more stuff breaking and going wrong, I thought I’d go back, way back in time to where this very unhealthy obsession with Florida started.

I’ve told the story many times about being talked into a Miami holiday rather than Majorca by a high street travel agent, and he does have a lot to answer for. Whilst at my Mum and Dad’s earlier today I had a look at some old photo albums from that trip, and whilst this is no attempt at a trip report, as I can barely remember last week never mind 1980, here are some of the highlights.

We flew (I think) with Air Florida, which of course is now long gone. The US air crew were our first real exposure to real life Americans, and they blew our minds with their service and film star looks. For a boy of nine they probably started my puberty!

(By the way, these photos, are actually photos of photos so please excuse the quality)

Hot Damn!

During the flight those old enough to, partook in the Miami Whammy.

Whhhaammmmyyy!

Those not old enough simply practiced their Jimmy Osmond impression. My collars actually cut our flight time by about an hour.

This photo is at the end of the flight and includes some tired travelers and a tank top.

My own Florida fringe

We actually stayed in Miami for almost all of our holiday, but crucially we drove up to Orlando for two nights to visit what was at that time the only theme park on Disney property. Epcot was being built at the time. Whilst much of the trip is now long forgotten, something obviously stuck with me, and rooted itself deep within my subconscious. Much of what we saw and did is still there today, but it is also lovely to look back and see how things have evolved since.

Driver, we are clear.

Some things are no longer available. This was taken inside the castle, which I think is still inaccessible.

The Williams brothers.

You don’t see this guy wandering about so much either.

Not in Nottingham.

If you are below a certain age then this next photo won’t make any sense whatsoever. I can still remember going on this one….

Under the sea

For some reason we seem to have bumped into Earth, Wind and Fire in the Magic Kingdom.

More wind than earth or fire.

Back in these days, my Dad was the party leader rather than myself. You can tell that as he has the balloon of authority.

Is that you Clark Griswald?

Another ride that is no more is of course the Skyway thing that you could go on over the park. It closed many years ago amidst rumour and urban legend all around folks losing life and limb trying to get it to stop.

I did not spit on anyone!

We did of course meet some characters, and in those days you could do so just wandering around. There was none of this waiting in line for three hours, or Fastpasses. Donald might just walk right by and be grabbed for a picture like this.

I have a big neb.

Hot Dog

Of course, like all future Williams trips, ultimately everything began and ended with food. We started as we meant to go on.

I’m not happy at having to stop eating to have a photo.

Having spent a few hours looking at these photos, I have to say it hasn’t eased any of the pain of not being able to go this year. However, that is no reason not to look back on lovely memories whether they are from 1980 or just last summer. That is after all much of the reason that we all go is it not?

The place was very different back in 1980 as indeed were we. More parks and resorts have sprung up, expanding the World beyond recognition, but one thing is constant and that is the way the place gets into your bloodstream, infects you with the desire to return and makes you all misty eyed at the sight of a firework set to a Disney tune. I hope the break from the norm has been welcome, and that the old Disney stuff was of interest.

Rest assured next week I’ll be right back on the moaning bandwagon heading for nervous breakdown bay.

Till the next time…..

 

 

My Big End Has Gone!

Right, I can’t stay long, we are two-thirds of the way through Series 4 of Game of Thrones. I know you’ll understand!

I have made a mental note to draft a very stiff letter of complaint to the producers and indeed George Martin about the lack of dwarf sex thus far in this series. What the producer of the Beatles can do about it I don’t know, but it is worth a try. Game of Thrones without dwarf sex is like a summer without a trip to Florida. Unheard of, unfair and something I should not be subjected to. I need both dawrf sex and Florida holidays in my life. Now there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be typing.

The main news I wish to share this week is good, I hope. For all those of you that have been saving up to buy my book, and had only managed to save up 50% of the required fee….well, for the next few days, you now have enough to enjoy probably the finest piece of literature ever written, by someone called Craig Williams from Bolton.

Yes, All This And More is just 99p!

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

Having the book on promo does seem to have worked, with the rate of sales rising quite dramatically over the last few days. Hopefully, those taking the plunge will like it and tell the world about it in the form of a glowing review. (That’s a hint).

The most exciting part of the week just gone was the realisation that the MOT on Louise’s car had expired, let’s just say, a little while ago. It was a genuine oversight (officer), and resulted in a panic ridden call to our newly regular mechanic. He’s a mobile one. This doesn’t mean he turns up with two turntables, a string of neon lights and some Boney M records. No, instead he comes to us for servicing and stuff, and so far has seemed extremely trustworthy in terms of not inventing issues to relieve us of our meagre wealth.

One of the great fears of a non petrol headed office worker nancy boy like myself is the trip to the garage where they sneer at my soft hands and work suit and proceed to shake their head whilst telling me my big end has gone. It would be nice if they would have the decency to actually be looking at the car when they say that, but nevertheless I get my wallet out anyway.

So despite the overdue nature of the MOT a pass was received, and with mine done just a few weeks ago that makes two out of two. So there we have used up all of our good fortune until around 2019. It is nice to be legal once again, which was a phrase Jimmy Saville and his mates may have done well to heed.

The weekend has fallen through my hands like sand again, with the  main event last night being the attendance of a “charidee” fundraising event. It was perhaps not quite as grand as that phrase may infer. It was a pie and peas with beer evening at my brother and sister in-laws. They had laid on said delights in return for donations towards Paula’s (my sister-in-law) upcoming bike ride. She is hoping to raise money for stammering children by cycling from London to Paris over four days next April. This is quite clearly madness and the damage to one’s rear end on such a journey will no doubt eclipse whatever the mechanics would say had happened to my big one.

Anyway, the pie, peas and beer were all very nice and a good amount of cash was raised, as well as my team being not just victorious, but imperious in the France and England based quiz. I have the trophy and medal to prove it.

Should you wish to find out more about Paula’s endeavors here is the info you need.

Right, episode seven beckons.

Till the next time…..

 

Who’s The Daddy?

We really enjoyed the film last Sunday. I thought I’d start with that as I often say we’re going to see a film and then never report back on what we thought of it. There are few films I watch that make me laugh out loud, but A Million Ways to Die in the West did. If you like a bit of silly, rude, sweary humour you should go and see it.

So it’s Sunday evening again already. It’s drizzling, I have work tomorrow, no holiday plans and England lost last night. It is a good thing I am such a naturally cheery soul or else these sorts of things could be getting me down. Having stayed up until after 1am to watch the football last night, as grateful as I was to be woken with breakfast in bed with a Father’s Day card and present, an hour or so later wouldn’t have gone amiss. Gone are the days when Louise or I have to buy the relevant card and present for the Mother or Father’s Day occasions. Emily seems to have become a black belt on Moonpig, and to know the girls actually gave the thought and time to make sure they had something to give me makes it more special.

fathers day card

So, I shouldn’t grumble about the early hour. It’s the first time Emily has been awake before me since 2008. Rebecca immediately retreated to bed as she had been up until who knows what time on a Netflix marathon watching Orange is the New Black, which I think is about young girls with a false tan addiction.

Louise and I haven’t yet had time to watch this one. Louise is deep into a Tudors marathon, as she loves all that bodice ripping stuff. I’ve seen the odd few minutes of it and it appears to comprise around 90% sex scenes and 10% dialogue. That may be reason enough for me to break my “no period drama” resolution.

Louise finished her latest placement this week, which she was pleased about. They are a definite mixed bag these placements, with some being a delight and some being, well, not so delightful. It’s all one more hurdle cleared towards qualification. Once we get past Christmas I think she starts applying for jobs which is no doubt frightening for Louise yet heartening for the bank manager.

In other news I am writing again. I have made a start on the next book. It is very, very early days and I am under 10,000 words, but still it’s a start. Why? I honestly don’t know why. I just feel like I should, or need to. It’ll give some folks something to write bad reviews about anyway. I have a title and everything. Well, I say everything, I don’t have a fully formed plot, chapter plan or an ending, but apart from that, yes, everything. It is a sort of sequel to the first one, but should work as a standalone book too. However, what you all clearly need to do now is read the first one so that you are fully up to speed to read the new one as soon as I complete it, which will be any time this decade.

Having done the really scary bit (that being to write the first few words on the blank page) I am getting back into it slowly, and with a million miles to go, I am starting to get the odd waft of enjoyment as the brain starts whirring away to solve plot points and things start to fall into place. It would be nice to do it for a living, from my beach front house on a Florida coast, but then again it would nice to do anything from my beach front house on a Florida coast.

So with another working week stretching ahead of me like a Krypton Factor assault course of tedium and monotony I shall retire to my Sunday night during which I think we’ll be watching my Father’s Day gift, Anchorman 2 on DVD or maybe the football, it is Father’s Day after all. I should of course be grateful that I have a week of work ahead of me. I could be one of the unfortunates that are out of work, you know, like the bloke who used to be in the Go Compare ads. I expect his prospects for alternative employment are quite limited.

Till the next time…..

Give Me Strength

In any other year since 2003, today would have seen me aboasting and abragging about my shiny new countdown to a wonderful holiday in Florida.

Each year, without fail, comes a day like this, when Louise finally breaks, and declares that we simply must return to the promised land, and no matter how much I argue, I am forced to do the deed. My yearning for returning is pretty constant, at a solid 10 out of 10, sometimes peaking at around a 26 on a bad day.

It takes Louise a little longer to get to this position, but today, she did, and it has resulted in me explaining in great detail all of the reasons why we cannot. Most of those involved a bank statement and the stains of my tears upon it, but I think I have made my point, and the credit card remains undamaged in my wallet. Don’t get me wrong, this did not prevent me from darkening Kayak’s door to “just have a look” at what deals might be available, should we be looking to book. If I showed half as much self-restraint with food, I’d be about six stone lighter.

Louise’s pleadings included offers of selling vital organs, but I did point out that nobody would really want her liver anyway.

I know it seems odd that I have resisted so fiercely, but, I am playing the long game. With Emily (we hope) lined up to be working over there for a year at some point, we know that we’ll want to be over there visiting her during that time, and with one less body to transport over the Atlantic, some lovely cast member discounts on hotels and tickets, that trip seems a lot more attainable and realistic. It is certainly more realistic than doing one this summer and then having to fund that one too!!

So, still, we are not going this year. I pray for the strength to keep it that way, as one more bout of pleading from Louise and I’ll be whipping it out and doing the business. I might book a holiday too.

So real life, and its constant demands on our bank balance continue to deny us the pleasure of the Florida sun, and at any one time, we have a list of stuff that needs attention and money that we’d rather be spending on some biblical amount of food in some Orlando eatery.

As I always say though, never say never. I continue to play the lottery, despite the fact that the last time I won a tenner was in the late nineties, or if I sell about 400,000 copies of any of my books, then that will do the trick too.

I have been formulating an idea for another book, and have actually written several words to start it, but then it has stalled. This is a symptom of some busy times at work, and I guess, also a lack of motivation. Just as I think I am ready to crack on and reinvent modern literature, some insightful soul leaves a shitty review for the last one, and I think, well, what’s the point? Of course, in this scenario, I totally ignore the 95%+ of reviews which are glowing, and focus on the tiny percentage that aren’t. If you wonder why, then clearly you don’t know me at all even after all this time.

What I am trying to do is remind myself that the fact that I have actually accomplished a life long ambition and got a book out there, which is complete, and in my view not too bad, is something to be proud of. I often forget how awesome that is, (the achievement, not necessarily the book).

Book Cover

Buy 400,000 copies please.

This evening, with Emily at work (check out her latest blog post about the interview at Disney HQ) and Rebecca of course out with her boyfriend, Louise and I are going to the cinema to watch A Million Ways To Die In The West.

Hopefully it will bring many laughs and some ridiculous amounts of sugar. I shall let you know.

Till the next time…..

 

 

A Tale of Two Gigs, One Direction and No Hope of an Early Night

Tonight I am on the taxi duty from Hell. I have to drop off and then pick up Emily and Rebecca, as they attend the One Direction gig at the Etihad. I have been investigating ways in which I could parachute them in, and then undertake some SAS style extraction once it is all over, as the traffic will be like Mordor on a Monday morning.

How do I know it will be awful? Well, the last time the girls watched them was at the infinitely smaller Phones 4 U Arena, and the entire area was at a standstill for what felt like months. Secondly, on Friday night I got caught in the post 1D traffic after their first gig at the venue. At 11.00pm, it took over an hour and a half to get out of Manchester and home. I was not, you will not be surprised to hear, working late at the office until that time. No, instead, my brother and I attended a gig of slightly smaller proportions in the city centre.

When I saw slightly smaller I do of course mean the diametric opposite, as we were watching The Francis Dunnery Band at the Manchester Uni student union. Francis who? Well, he was big in the 80’s….a bit, with his band It Bites. The only hit anyone really knows by them is this one.

After that and a few minor follow-up hits they proceeded to have a decent career with albums and were worshipped by musos for their musical ability.

So fast forward a few decades and he is back in the UK from his American base, with a band, doing a small tour of even smaller venues. Not that there was a great deal of competition, but we were on the front row, and regardless of his now advancing years, and the size of the venue, it was still exciting to be so close to someone who was, and still is, a musical hero. Don’t let the fact that you haven’t heard of him persuade you that he isn’t one of the best guitarists in the world. The solo in this song should be proof enough of that.

By the way, that video was taken by my lovely new phone, which was the subject of a post a few weeks ago. It is a thing of beauty and a modern marvel of technical loveliness.

He played a mix of old and new stuff, and we had a great night. It is amazing how songs first heard in the mid eighties can be dredged up from your memory banks to prove you still know all the words. They can also transport you back immediately to that period of time, when I was mostly sat listening to those songs and wondering if I would ever be able to play like that. The answer was of course no I wouldn’t, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

So after that gig we set off for home, only to quickly stumble upon gridlock in every conceivable direction, caused by One Direction. I didn’t get home until Saturday morning, which is frankly unheard of at my age.

So tonight, think of me as I loiter in Manchester side streets, hoping for a painless route out of Manchester once the girls find me. We have to set off very shortly so I shall leave you in peace. For those who didn’t see it yesterday, Emily has posted her next blog which is all about the first part of her application process for Disney. Have a read if you are interested.

I am off to Hades!

Till the next time…..