June 2010

I was going to write more about the weekend, and how it seemed to last for ages (a good thing when you’re not far off 50), but I have gained too many good things to write about since; so the mid-life crisis (which I have been having since the age of probably 5) can take a back seat today.

In the day I did a 15kg shop, and a lot of time and effort on the hat throwing thing. My idea is to do it on Yorkshire Day, 1st August. Councillor Hawkesworth rang me today, and there is a fair chance the hats and my show about the history of On Ilkley Moor Ba tat will go ahead.

In the evening I went to Otley at Bev’s invitation to see a lot of morris dancing. It is the first time I have seen her in her new team, Wayzgoose. There were 3 other teams, one from Notre Dame Sixth Form College (lovely to see, especially the black lass); Theiving Magpies (black faced with a lovely smiling Geordie called Chris, and a bloke from ZZ Top who beat big sticks together and smoked a rolly for their first dance without touching it or it going out; and Briggate (ladies team who were the best technical dancers I have seen. Wayzgoose hosted the event and did themselves proud.

I was fascinated to watch the different groups, and how they all had some of the same kind of characters in each; though you would have to be a good watcher to see it.

It finished with an ioen dance for anyone. We were told to find a stick and a partner; so I found a short, curly stick behind the wheelie bin, which Bev ripped out of my hand to replace it with a ‘proper’, but not before Chris had responded to my Does anyone want a spare man?

It was grand. I could not tell my left from right, and us being at the head of two big lines meant when ‘we’ thought I had to dance up to the top and back everyone else had to follow.

I need to record the last few days as they may prove to be an eye of calm, for reason’s I may offer later.

FridayI went to the Midland Hotel, Bradford, to get a quote Pie & Priestley 2010. It would work at a minimum price of £20, with a need to sell at least 20 20 tickets. I did the first ever of these shows there, and it is a posh venue, but the price is not good, and there was no chance to negotiate (though I am hardly a negotiator).

I then went to Ilkley for more quotes, and to see if I could do a repeat of the Hat Throwing Championship on 1st August, or possibly the day before.

I walked up to White Wells and had to stop and pant less than a dozen times, despite the sun being out, which suggests I am fitter than I was. They are perfectly happy for me to do the event there again. so that is the venue for the hats sorted.

Then went to the Riverside to ask for Priestley. This and White Wells are the only straightforward venue I am trying to deal with.

Part of the gathering storm is my nightmare of plate juggling, with paper plates and soft poles. Almost nothing is easier for having done it before, the friend as broken reed is making things much worse.

After Riverside I met one of the slaggiest cats ever. A long haired puss who rolled over and dribbled on top of a wheelie bin, while I was stroking her,


Went to see Baildon Cricket Club play Bankfoot.

First surprise was that there was an entrance fee of £3, though that did include a scorecard cum programme (Bradford & Bingley was free in but the programme was £2).

It is good to watch cricket if your mind is troubled; at least I found this match so. There is enough going on to keep the mind from deep thoughts; but the excitements are of a kind, and spread out enough to avoid feverish feelings (even short-leg putting down the catch that would have made a hat trick made nobody jump up).

Baknfoot were bowled out with the last, or second to last, ball; on 217. After tea they were not getting wickets but keeping the run rate down; then came a set of short but heavy showers, Overs were lost, making Baildon’s job more difficult; but an old gent explained that bowling fielding after rain was often more difficult than batting. I had to miss the last overs, so I missed Baildon winning.


Was at Bev’s house to England get well beaten by the Germans. I am glad I saw it with a nice family.

Did some walks and drank the first beer since Friday. Also read out a lot of Wodehouse.


Medically speaking I’ve been a bit up and down; not helped by a call from my mother saying the Welfare people, ie. Social Services, had visited today. I am trying hard not to let the farago get to me; but it is difficult.

I had a neighbourhood forum meeting yesterday, which did me good; as did the messages of support.
At the meeting I raised the issues of Himalayan Balsam, and the fete of Dorset Street.
The messages raised my spirits.

While I was skirting depression I am suffering more from disappointment and subsequent lethargy. For the second time this year a concrete offer of help with a show has proved to be as firm as fog, leaving me to do everything; and as I have said a few time recently, I am finding harder to find the energy to produce a show on my own.

One plus point of the moment is that I am reading even more than usual. Especially P.G.Wodeshouse.

I will be less hung over tomorrow; or rather today by the time I have posted this; by walking home from the Dog and Gun, via the Brown Bull, by way of the illegally (in my opinion) bottom, blocked by steep ramparts, part of Dorset Street. I only fell down a few times, and was hardly hurt at all. I am resolved now (Drunken resolutions are only guaranteed whilst the proclaimer is awake) to go back with the slaters hammer and the massive axe edged hammer (ethanol is denying me the knowledge of the correct name) and cut a gap in the rampart. No notification of closure was ever posted, and I still need to walk that way.

Today (soon to be yesterday, but 23rd June regardless) is St John the Baptist’s Eve (as written about on this blog). The night my mother’s village in Karelia, Finland, set fire to their fishing boats before their feast day.

I went to watch the sunset and think about the day (rather than watch the Solstice sunset and think of a day following). The local secondary school (with a reputation on a par with North Korea) have a new building which makes watching a sunset difficult, and the clouds were against any view regardless.

In the Brown Bull I got talking to folk I’d talked to before, including the lass who shocked her husband by admitting to me, and the pub, that she had fiddled the meters for the whole estate. In the midst of this a bloke asked me where I was froom, and commented on my accent. After a bit I asked him straight Do you want a fight or wot?l Which nonplussed him. He asked for support, but the 4 I were stood with all said He’s alright!

Just for my own memory I need to remember June talking about dressing up in white to go out, and looking like a panda on account of being breyed, and knowing she’d be breyed again, but the folk as saw her, or the blokes rather, taking strong action because of her publicly displaying her injuries (all of this paragraph is, of course, written as if I am on a Radio 3 talk programme. It was much funnier the way ~I heard it.).

I have just checked m knees, and there is no blood, or rents in my trousers, so I escaped Dorset Street without a visible mark. I did not see any creatures of the night either, but whilst I am up I ain’t gonna look fer oles.

Generally me thinking about my own long term future is a sign of depression, though it may be that thinking about my future makes me depressed.

I have been OK if I have projects to take my mind off what happens after they are finished, but at present nothing I am trying to plan for is raising my enthusiasm. I am not sunk in a slough, but perhaps sitting sit in a chill fog of indifference.

In the last few days I have been doing a lot of catching up with bureaucratic details, and a lot of that has been successful, but in the midst I forgot to view the sunset and sunrise at the Summer Solstice, the first time for over a decade.

I do not think I am drunk, although the numbers would suggest I am wrong. I was sitting in strong sun, and shivering in the cloud cover, and sun always dries things.

The most strenuous thing I did yesterday was put a pie in the oven, and walk 3 paces to the mint in my garden. I also managed 24 hours sleep over 48, but I did need them.

Today I went to watch my first Bradford League cricket game for probably a quarter of a century; and see Mike and Emma to find out what I am to do at their wedding.

I set off to see Bradford & Bingley. I thought I might get an Eldwick bus which goes past the end of the road the ground is on. A Baildon bus came first, but it said Shipley on the front (which is a mile and a steep hill short of Baildon). I asked the driver but he offered no info beyone it was going to Shipley.

Change of drivers at the station. A Shiply the bus went past it’s usual turn for the bus station. I went downstairs. Everyone was moaning, the twat at the back (with his young daughter) most of all.

I asked what was going on. The driver was not the best spealer, and the screen did not help; but between me, him, and the old ladies at the front who live in Baildon; could give the announcement that the road to Baildon was closed and the bus would be going straight back to Bradford. It to the old ladies 3 goes to get the fact into the twat’s head’ and he was still talking moaning bollocks after they did.

Walked through Saltaire, called into Fannys, but nobody was behind the bar and there was no beer I especially wanted, so carried on.

Walked past Shipley Print, who did my books, over the railway, and into Hirst Wood. I then walked from there towards Bingley along the river, a first.

It’s a good walk. The best song thrushes I can remember hearing, and a big beech tree on a bank, blown over recently enough, which had demolished a stone wall and was resting on branches. While I could see almost a full root plate it still had roots in the ground, and it was resting on big branches, and it was in full leaf. I want to go back and photograph it.

The match was against Woodlands. Before the good bits I have to say handpulled Tetley bitter was £2.80 a pint, and keg mild was £2.60!. It was very good cricket in a nice ground, and the barmaid was sparky, but even with all that I doubt I will be going back at the price.

I mostly talked to lads from Woodlands, and have some sympathy for them getting hammered. B&B lost 3 wickets on 52 runs, but a fantastic knock of 68 by Chris Thompson, and at least 3 dropped catches gave them 196 for 4. Woodlands were on 44 for 4 after 20 overs when I left, and lost by 60.

There were swifts, swallows and house martin in view, the later flying between the fielders, and I watched one going into its nest on the pavillion on the way out.

During the interval a police car arrive and parked by the river and a WPC got out. I said to the woman near me that I doubted she was going to fish or throw herself in the river. After a short while a youth appeared at the river boundary, at the same time as 4 more coppers started running across the field (They did not run over the wicket).

I bloke messing about with his kids near the boundary joined in the chase, the lad jumped the ground fence and a few tried to follow him, though I guessed correctly that they had a car ready on that street.

I asked 3 of the coppers if they had caught him, and one said they had caught them all.

Wildlife, beer, cricket and chasing villains! A perfect example of an English summer day.

It was really nice to see Mike and Emily afterwards, and to get their cat dribbling. I got their cat purring, and was told I could not wear my DJ, let alone my tails. Folk will be expected to scrub up, but not enough for a man with an untried dinner jacket.

I finished in the Castle talking to Hilary, the only person ever to force a few book out of me.

Managed the commute, have signed on, and had beer with Joe as a gentle reintroduction to my place. I now face a shit mountain to shovel to make sure I lose minimum benefits from working the election, but I can do that properly here.

News today means I can take pride in being the cause of massive improvements in my parents lives, with potentially more to follow; almost none of which would have happened if I had been fit enough to travel on Monday, or had left earlier on Tuesday.

The issue with my parents having their weekly, non-varying, drugs made up by their chemist turns out to be an issue with Lloyds Pharmacy 9 Tilgate Parade having a monopoly and being too bone ideal to do the job they should. The lazy toe-rags have always refused to deliver drugs; well the Care Support worker at the GP’s (the other agency mentioned in last blog) has now fixed for Boots to do the job Lloyds refused to do.

I was up soon after five this morning, and came back on Megabus train and coach, which is half way on the tiring scale between the most of all coach and all train.

I will finish the bottle of Cava I bought at Morrisons by the coach drop (a big plus for the service, I can do a massive shop and the taxi home is less than from the train stations), and have a 12 hour bed holiday.

Bast part of the trip was on the train from Kings Cross. I sat with a group, with a baby, called Tyler, who was at the stage of making talk like noises, and that was fun.

They were going to Hull, where the dad came from, and me and him were talking about the pubs; especially the Black Boy on the High Street. After a while the friend, who was tired, asked if there were no coloured people in Hull, apart from this boy. It got a good laugh. Thee goes down High Stret till yer see a black boy, an yer ask him.

Whilst the mother went to the loo, Tyler got hold of the empty bottle of Sprite dad was drinking, and got a few drops, to his obvious enjoyment. Ma had arrived back and was not happy, on account of the massive sugar and caffeine(?) overdose her contented baby was having. She thought my suggestion of Baby Beer brewed just for babies! might be serious; but had the good grace to admit that her own baby was not actually hyperactive. I did my bit by getting a ticket inspector to find out which toilets had a nappy changing table. It is good to see likable families, without them the future is bleak indeed.

Tomorrow I have to sort benefits and wage (I finally got one from the election). If manage that before noon I will be in Ilkley to get quotes for my birthday Priestley do (13th Sept.).

Intended to do the return part of the commute yesterday (Tuesday) but Monday left me too weak to try.

Today I was packed and ready to go as soon as I had finished dinner. A new, to us, support agency rang just as ma was dishing up; so the plate went in the oven. Just after the call the doorbell rang. It was a nurse coming to access after I had made my concerns vocal to the nurse who took my dad’s blood for test yesterday.

I missed any chance of a cheap enough train today, but was very lucky to be here came unannounced. She was here for 90 minutes (about 20 asking questions and the rest filling forms) and did a full assessment of both of them. Because the parents were eating when she arrived I had 10 minutes to explain stuff unhindered by mother, and could explain, and comment, when they were both in the room.

This is, potentially, a massive step forward. The nurse will contact Social Services (who I called as well to reinforce the critical changes) and the GP’s. She also gave me the form the GP’s should have done before now to allow nurses to give dad his insulin.

There are matters not resolved, but less urgent than having no way of getting my dad injected if my mother cannot do it.

As for my life. Well, it could get complicated and nasty on account of being away so long, but I cannot imagine anything bad enough to lessen my sense of achievement in what I made happen today. It is perhaps even better that I happened to be here by chance, and gave up some ease to finish the job.

Auntie Klaudia is much better and should be home soon. Leaving aside my families bi-polar way with hope, and the 20 minutes of dialing Finland thanks to telephone numbers written down on scraps of paper with no info, and having to figure out how to dial a mobile at random, it is splendid news, and the lack of news may explain a lot.

I helped mother buy a gas cooker a year or so ago. She had paid for new wiring less than a year before. The delivery and connection men refused to connect because the socket above the cooker was 8 cm too close to the cooker. I had to replace the socket with a blank plate, under time pressure, before they fitted it.

Since then my mother has had been using an extension lead she has jury rigged around 3 sides of the kitchen, with the socket on the window sill next to the sink, to power the ignition. The cooker hood has not worked since the fitting, and there are vast colonies of mould on the colder walls.

Today I replaced the socket, and added a new one at the blank faced cooker power point, to run the ignition.

Took the best part of two hours. I did it slow and steady, double checking, cleaning contacts, and letting the mains powered emergency call people know.

At the end, because of the cooker being in a different place whilst he made tea, and because of the call box beeping every 15 minutes, my father said I don’t know what you had to change anything for! He did not know because he never asked, and once I started telling him, without shouting, he collapsed like the French Army. Thus was it ever such.

I then did a heavy shop, mowed the lawn, and cut down a ribes that was growing for the sky.

It was physical enough to be better medicine than the last few days (or maybe the repeat doses did the trick).

Whilst doing all of this I dropped my credit card case, which mother found, and tried to may capital of in terms of control. I did shout; then carried on with what I was doing; then started the odyssey through my mother’s random phone numbers.

I think too much, but I usually manage to think that it is worth thinking. Things turned out well by day’s end, and it was packed with incident, but maybe I need to find more chances to react well, not think.

Say Jeremy Paxton’s Who do you think you are. Some of his family came from Bradford. Great=grandparents dead of TB, and exhaustion in her case, before his grand-father was 11, and that relative spinning wostead before he was 12. Paxon went to the office where I got the death certificates of those featured in my Anne Firth – Anne Field drama documentary film script (never used) and the local studies library at Bradford.

One of my favourite Kipling poems is at the end of the Just so story How the camel got his hump

It starts

THE Camel’s hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do. …

And suggests:

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire; …

Now have had had a fair amount to do. Today I cooked two meals and cemented a lip on the way to the garage that has been a trip hazard for too long (I used a shaped wire coat hanger to reinforce the cement, but forgot to mix in aggregate. It might still work).

Despite that, and the best weather for a while, I am struggling to do work for myself, or find justification in doing it. I have been living for years on the hope that hard work will give momentum to what I do, especially not having to re-invent the wheel for every show I do; but every one I do is still feeling like I am having to make all four wheels and the wagon every time, and then have to pull it myself.

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