Sunday, 29 January 2017

Pink, podgy and proud


Charlotte received a Gold Certificate at her school's Celebration Assembly on Friday afternoon "for being a fantastic role model to others."


Got to be happy with that.

She was proud of herself in her own quiet way, but most pleasure was gained from the fact that she got to bring Ozzy the Bear (and his diary) home for the weekend.


According to Ozzy's spiel on the front of his prized possession, "I love to look back on all of my adventures and therefore bring this diary with me.  Please can you write about all the fun things that we do this weekend?" No pressure then.

The needy bear adds: "It would also be really nice if you could draw a picture or even take a photograph of you and me together!  When we return to school on Monday we can share the diary with the rest of the class."

OK then, challenge accepted. 

Perhaps surprisingly for some, food has played quite a part so far.

Ozzy had fish and chips for tea on Friday as we went out to celebrate Charlotte's success.

Before it was off to bed in a pair of pink pyjamas.

(Charlotte made an early assumption that he's a metrosexual bear).

Dressed in a pink dressing gown, Ozzy began his Saturday morning with a spread of orange juice and toast.

Next was a real treat as Charlotte whisked him off to a birthday party aboard her girlie scooter.

I understand he even had some cake.

We had pizza for tea last light.

Then this morning, after another restful night's sleep and wearing a dress, it was sausages for breakfast for our guest.

Before it was off to another birthday party - including more cake.

In a little while we're taking Ozzy for a big Sunday dinner at Grandma Judy and Grandad Mike's.

I really don't know where he puts it.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Midlife eye-sis

I've been diagnosed with another ailment.  Old age.

Already handicapped by a fractured left arm and poisoned right arm, holding a book has proven to be something of a challenge in recent times.  And the task has not been made easier by a fairly sudden difficulty in actually reading the words.

I was due in for a contact lens check yesterday (I've worn them since I was 18) and thought I'd mention it to the eye lady before she found out for herself.

She had a poke at my eyes whilst I attempted to recite a selection of letters projected onto the wall.

The exercise enabled her to reach two conclusions.  

The first was that, although there had a been a slight weakening of the sight in my right eye, my contact lens prescription would not have to change this time around.  Good, because I've got three boxfuls of unused lenses stashed in the bathroom cupboard.

And the second?

"You've got early presbyopia." 

"What does that mean?"

"You're getting old."

"Cheeky bitch." 

According  to Wikipedia, presbyopia is "a condition associated with ageing of the eye that results in progressively worsening ability to focus clearly on close objects."


"Presbyopia is a natural part of the ageing process."

Cheeky Wikipedia.

Back to the eye lady.  She further explained that the latest physical disaster to befall me tends to hit people from the age of 45.

"I'm not 45 until March," I announced with youthful glee.

"And you'll be 46 next March."

I was really going off her.

The conclusion of our joust was that, despite wearing contact lenses, I will also most likely require reading glasses within two years.  Oh joy.  

Goodness knows what other nightmares will visit me before then. 

With my run of luck, both my ears will probably fall off and I won't be able to wear glasses anyway. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

No right-hand anything

It's only me - please don't get up.

I'm typing this essentially with two fingers.  I normally manage a couple more than that, but my right hand still isn't right and my left hand isn't very useful at the best of times.  (I'm very one-dimensional).

To recap, this was my right hand precisely a month ago today when I was taken into Leeds General Infirmary with what turned out to be cellulitis (which I'd not previously heard of).

And this was the self-same hand around about three minutes ago when I took another picture of it.

Much better, you will note, although it's still fairly swollen and the colour's a bit weird.  (Maybe I'll put a glove on and dig out my Michael Jackson CD).

Getting to this stage has involved an operation, five days on an intravenous drip, two seven-day courses of oral antibiotics and countless hours of elevation interspersed with hand exercises.

I also retain something of a big hole in my hand, tastefully covered by a dressing that I change every other day.  (Such gaping wounds happen when a 6'6" masked surgeon comes at you armed with a scalpel).
I'm kind of hoping that my remaining difficulties relate solely to the local trauma caused by what lies beneath my big plaster, and that normal service will finally resume in the coming days.  But we'll see where we're at by the beginning of next week.

In the meantime, I'm committed to resting it as best I can, more elevation and a ban on "man" handshakes (which made my hand blow up when I was back home for New Year).

And I hope not to have to clear the path for local children to get to school after a tree has been felled in a storm.  I had to yank this baby out of the way yesterday morning, prompting my hand to turn purple as a form of personal protest.

If you see me using my right hand between now and Monday, you have permission to hit me with it.  Thank you in advance.        

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A Fix of nostalgia

I mentioned that I'd been to two gigs during our family festive jaunt back to Norn Iron.

The first was Roll With It, who I'll never tire of raving about. Go see them.

And the second was my old school pals, The Fix.

I issued a final call to arms on Boxing Night.  But thanks to the tireless efforts of the band's frontman Jonny Lennox and the kindness of BBC Radio Ulster's Kerry McLean, Q97.2's Denis McNeill, The Coleraine Times, The Coleraine Chronicle and, that job had already been done.

The result was a full house at the award-winning Kiwi's Brew Bar in Portrush for an incredibly nostalgic gig in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK.  

Jonny and fellow original member and bassist Paul Beattie hadn't played a full set together as The Fix in 25 years.  And joined by new man Peter Jamison on drums and percussion, they blew the place away.

As well as the money lifted on the night, online donations and proceeds from a wonderfully supported raffle, the total raised now stands at almost £2,400.

But between you and I, it would be great to take that figure up to a nice round £2,500 to assist Alzheimer's Research UK in their fierce battle with dementia.

So, if you're doing Dry January or have chosen not to go to the pub tonight, why not throw a few quid of what you're saving into Jonny's virtual bucket? No reason whatsoever, so here's the link: 

It was fantastic to catch up with the boys and so many other old friends at the gig, many of whom had travelled home from far afield for Christmas. I'd not seen some of them in years.

But my abiding memory is the bravery shown by Jonny, Paul and Peter for actually getting up there and doing it.

What I'd not appreciated until the last few weeks was just how much practice the band put it to bring the songs together and sound so good.  Musically, they were fantastic and they should be immensely proud of what they achieved - on and off the stage.

I hope we get to see them play together again before too long.  Because I, for one, can't wait another quarter of a century.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Familiar faces Roll back into Mary Pat's

I wrote yesterday that I'd been to two outstanding gigs in Northern Ireland over New Year.

I'll begin with the second one - held exactly a week ago tonight - headlined by some old friends in a very familiar place.

Yes, Roll With It were back in Mary Pat's in my native Macosquin for an intimate show.  No Big Marquee this time.  It was up close and personal.

It came about thanks to their absolute decency and the persuasive skills of the one and only Robert Todd who you can see below sneaking out for a cool down.  (I can't wait for his next trick, with details to be revealed here soon).

When I tell you that just two nights earlier, Roll With It wowed a 900-strong sell-out crowd in their home city of Belfast, you'll appreciate what a huge gesture it was by them to come to Macosquin.

When they first played in the village in August 2015, they were relatively unknown although certainly on the up.

They are now firmly established as Ireland's outstanding Oasis tribute band.  They're also the best part-time live act I've seen.

I have no doubt that they would be equally successful on this side of the Irish Sea and I'd love them to give it a go.

But for now, if you live on Emerald Isle, I'd urge you to see them wherever you can.  Here are some dates and venues to choose from in the coming months.  

That's Nick on the left, Mark on the right.

They're madferit.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Big F in Festive (Season)


Greetings campers, and let me be the very last to wish you a Happy New Year.  Let's hope that it's a lot more fun than the crock of poo 2016 turned into.

Looking back to the festive period, after a Christmas Eve of excitement mixed with fear, Santa Claus did eventually come...  


...and even Charlotte seemed pleased with what he brought.


Next on the menu was Tiffany the turkey, who seemed a cool chick to begin with.  But the temperature soon rose and that was the end of her.   


On the upside, she went down well.  (Gobble, gobble). 


After a couple of days to tidy up, it was off to Northern Ireland's Causeway Coast to begin the build-up to 2017.


Vanessa and I headed off to two top quality gigs on our first three nights.  More about those in the coming days.

And then as the sun went down on the shittiest of all shit years, we thought it only appropriate to go out to celebrate its demise.

Charlotte was allowed to stay up on New Year's Eve for the very first time, so decided to make a bit of an effort.


Before it was onto the dance floor with her big bro, cousin Katie, Auntie Jacquie and the mother one.


Things got hot about three hours in, so the young 'uns retired to the beer garden for a breath of fresh air mixed with fag smoke.  


Whilst some suitably lubricated old men watched on.


And after checking that 2016 was finally as dead as Monty Python's parrot, it was time to head back to Blighty. 


I hope you and yours had good times too.