Meals on Wheels

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No whinges from me today though you never know, I may pick up on something as I write. My 93 year old father used to employ some private meal delivery company, but they were always late, rude, portions too small, portions too large, delivery guy was too young or wore an offensive hat. So for the last many years, I have provided him a weekly delivery of 4 or 5 meals to put in his freezer.

This I don’t do for absolutely free. I don’t charge him for it obvs, but it gets me out of the hopeless task of trying to find something of interest to buy him for birthdays and Christmas. He has enough socks, ties and hankies so what’s the point? This way it’s Christmas every week for him.

He lives within 200 yards of KFC AND McDonalds. How can you ever be short of food living there?

Anyway, today’s torrential rain held no fears for me. Usually on a cook day when the sun’s out, my bike starts to beckon me and it’s difficult to ignore it. But today was pretty straightforward.

The sausage casserole has been a long standing favourite followed closely by the chicken casserole. I try to be a bit more dramatic for the other 2 or 3 dishes and today I scoured the ‘net for recipes. I settled on a new recipe for meatloaf and one that I’d bagged before (and a favourite of my granddaughter), the cheesy tuna pasta.

Checked cupboards and listed missing stuff. Steak mince, pork sausage meat, fresh sage, garlic clove, mustard, tuna, sweetcorn and fresh parsley. So. Tesco.

After a few hours of steam, grating, mixing, chopping and grunting, I came up with these (see pics). I have to say that they were delicious – but I suppose I would say that. I certainly didn’t need any tea.

You never know, I may get a grunt of appreciation this week. And that’s just ruined the upbeat nature of this blog. Oh well, I guess that’s why you love me eh?

Double Docs

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Funny how things turn out sometimes. Having not been to the docs since my annual service back in November, I strangely found myself going there on two consecutive days. For the previous 10 days I had been cultivating a rather offensive looking growth on my nose. It slowly grunted and oozed muck and a bit of blood.

Now, I’m a cyclist and it’s been rather sunny and my nose takes the brunt of the rays. Foolishly, I don’t use sunscreen and wondered whether I had got something nasty. Lashings of Fucibet cream and Savlon (that well known 1970s antiseptic cream) seemed to do nothing so on Monday, I rang the surgery to find that Kathy, my regular doc, was pretty much booked up for 2 weeks so I settled for Giles on Thursday at 11am.

On Wednesday night, the majority of the monstrosity made a bid for freedom and landed with a plop on my lap. This left a cavity surrounded by a nice crispy crust. I thought about cancelling my date with Giles but common sense prevailed. Well, better to get it checked out as my mother never used to say.

Anyway come Thursday morning, I was a little delayed as I was brought up to date with the story of my neighbour’s bad neck. Got to the docs at 11.01 and joined a rather busy waiting room. As my ass hit the cheap cloth of the waiting chair, I heard a ‘David Russell?’. It was Giles, Bloody hell that was prompt. I shook hands with Giles ignoring the black looks from the other impatient patients.

He got out his magnifying glass and gave it a good couple of minutes trying to find something untoward. His conclusion? ‘It looks like a spot that you’ve picked’. Alright Giles, no need to look so smug you posh prick.

Anyway, I was back in my car at 11.05. Quickest visit ever.

So the next morning I got a text from somebody who shall remain anonymous but for the sake of the story, I shall call him Drew. He wanted a lift to the docs because he couldn’t drive as he had done his ankle in whilst dangerously delivering letters. Clumsy arse.

As it happens, he uses the same surgery as I and I got him there for 9am and wished him luck. I settled in enjoying the lovely view (pictured above) and letting the dregs of the previous night’s Valde Oliva dissipate through my pores.

A woman with a collie just could not get him to pick up a thrown frisbee. In effect she spent 20 minutes playing frisbee with herself whilst the dog just bounded about like a doofus. A young girl in micro shorts charged between the outdoor gym equipment and looked like she had an ass made out of concrete.

Workman went topless and took a break under the shade of a tree. An elderly woman with a dog lead but no discernible dog seemed content to pick up invisible objects from the ground. Bonkers.

Cars came and went. I noticed a taxi pulling up along side me but he was just doing a 3 point turn. A Jack Russell chased a thrown tennis ball trying to catch it mid bounce but only succeeded in nose butting it faster and faster. A woman I placed in her thirties wobbled by with clearly no lady vest on. I heard myself saying ‘Blimey, you wanna rein them in or they’ll be resting on your knees by the time you’re 40 love’. Heh heh ’40 love’ – appropriate for this time of the year don’t you think?

It was nearing 10am and I felt sorry for Drew, sweating his spuds off in a crowded waiting room. Maybe he’d died. How was I to know? Two dog owners stopped to chat as their dogs played ring a ring a roses with their noses crammed up each other’s butts.

An elderly couple pulled up next to me and the man moaned solidly for 15 minutes about how everybody just moans about stuff these days rather than getting on and doing something about it. Self righteous old goat. I think the woman had passed out.

10.20. This is getting ridiculous. Time for Ken Bruce’s Pop Quiz. I’ll see this out then go and look for Drew. I wasn’t very good at the quiz but was dumbfounded when a self confessed pop nut didn’t know who debuted in the charts with I Know What I Like (in your wardrobe) in 1974. I screamed GENESIS at the unlistening radio but to no avail.

10.40. Right, I’d better go see where the poor soldier is. I approached reception wondering whether I was allowed any information. I was, Drew had been dismissed at 9.22. No point asking any other questions so I went to the gym to sweat and ponder another bewildering day.

Apparently Drew had assumed I was just dropping him off and the taxi that did the 3 point turn at 9.30? That was for Drew. FFS.

The Strap Fart Waltz (inc. unexpected golf rant)

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The bike was calling me so I thought I should risk a quick 20 mile whizz around central Dorset despite my car earlier telling me that it was 33°C. I pounded up Ridgeway on the Came Down Road luxuriously shaded by trees on the left, annoyed by the golf club members on the right.

Rules obsessed, badge jacketed, wife abandoning, ridiculously dressed, smelly bottomed, snooty, arrogant, chauvinist, elitist, xenophobic chumps who like to abide by social standards that were prevalent in the 1930s. If there are any ladies present some old duffer is sure to talk loudly to his fellow duffers, “Did you know that GOLF stands for ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden'”. Well you cretinous old fuddy duddy, it doesn’t. That’s just you being obnoxious. ‘Golf’ is quite simply an old name for a club.

Came Down Golf Club hails itself as the birthplace of the Ryder Cup. That fascinated me when I saw it. That the prestigious Ryder Cup was first played on our little local golf course. I Googled it and was surprised to find that the first Ryder Cup was played in 1927 at the Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. Turns out that whilst on vacation in South Dorset, Samuel Ryder discussed his plans for a USA v GB/Europe competition with some chums whilst playing a round at Came Down. Does that warrant the Club hailing themselves as the birthplace of the Ryder Cup? Not in my book, Johnny Fartpants.

Samuel Ryder used to like to stay at the Royal Hotel in Weymouth and I dare say he discussed his golfing world domination plans more there than he did on the golf course so in my opinion, the Royal Hotel has more claim to the title of birthplace of the Ryder Cup than Came Down Golf Club. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

Anyway, I’ve retired my golf clubs now. I could never be bothered to learn how to do it properly but it was the ‘better than thou’ attitude of the club members that made my piss fizz. Did you know that one of their rules stipulates that if your ball is lodged in an orange, you cannot take relief without penalty? I mean, FFS.

As a fr’instance, here’s a sample conversation that didn’t take place – not all in one go anyway – as we walked into reception .

Golf Club Nazi – Afternoon Gents.
Us (though probably me) – Good afternoon. We have a 2-for-1 voucher.
GCN – Oh.
Me – That’s OK isn’t it?
GCN – Well yes but we like to encourage more people to join as members.
Me – I only play once a month so it makes no sense.
GCN – Can I draw your attention to our rules on attire. We do allow shorts on hot days, but they must be tailored.
Me – Well in my opinion, this is a hot day and my shorts are definitely tailored.
GCN – They seem to have a lot of pockets.
Me – You have a pocket limitation rule?
GCN – No sir.
Me – So what’s the problem?
GCN – We like to keep up appearances sir.
Me – Why don’t you have a dolly bird on reception? That would certainly help with your appearance. Oh no sorry. A WOMAN? Whatever next?
GCN – I can’t allow you to play in trainers sir.
Me – That’s why I have golf shoes on.
GCN – They look like Adidas trainers sir.
Me – I know, but they’re Adidas golf shoes. My Christian Louboutins are at the cobblers.
GCN – Do you mind it I take a look at the soles sir?
Me – No sure. Lay on the floor and I’ll give you a real close up.

Oh dear. Dunno what happened there. Where was I? Oh yes, so I hammered it up the hill and hit the long road down into Broadmayne (after taking the glorious hazy feature photo of our beautiful county). Breezing down the hill into the village and the strap fart waltz kicked in. Back packs invariably have more straps that an obese woman’s brassiere and different notes are produced when the wind passes through them at differing speeds.

The first note is a definite F natural. Speed up and it is replaced by an A natural and finally at top speed, a C natural. I have often wondered that if, with practice in speeding up and slowing down, I could at least make a decent stab at the start of The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II.

Trouble is, the 17th note is a B flat. I suppose I could experiment by tying my laces in an assortment of designs and waving my leg in the air. Watch this space.

Neil

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In a world where there has been much to make us sad lately, in a little corner of the sleepy county of Dorset, an event has occurred that has left many locals bewildered and disheartened.

Don’t get me wrong. In no way does it compare to the recent terrorist atrocities. Or even hopeless situations such as war, disease and famine. But the more these situations occur, the more we ‘ordinary’ folk, who in the main are pretty lucky, hold dear the little comforts of life. Many of these comforts rely on stability and yesterday saw the end of one of life’s stable comforts.

For 30 years or more, Neil Gatehouse has run the Colliton Club. He was always someone you could rely on being there pretty much all the time. Always grumbling about something or other but always willing to chat and introduce you to his latest beer (of which there were many!). The amount of times we heard about his ‘amazing chip on to the 15th green’ was tedious but it was part of the charm of the whole Colliton experience.

A long time ago, he took a couple of years out to run a pub in Exmouth. I always regard those years as a dark time in the history of the Club. It just wasn’t the same. Now it looks like it will never be the same again.

He seemed to have an uncanny knack of employing an endless succession of sparkling barmaids who themselves became part of the Club which made it ‘OK’ for many people (including myself) to turn up alone because, well, you never were alone. I was going to list names, but I’m bound to miss somebody out but the 5 ‘originals’ mainly signed as they turned 18 were Chloe, Kim, Ange, Michelle and Jess. Remembered very fondly by all long term regulars. 3 of them are now in their 40s and the other 2 aren’t far behind (sorry girls).

The post of Colliton Club Manager has always been accountable to the Committee which for many years recognised that Neil was a major asset to the Club. A point that seems to be lost with the current Committee. I don’t know the details but it seems likely that they have done some sort of half-assed business analysis and come up with a plan that had no place for the position that Neil held. They will argue that they have tried to put a plan into place, that is best for the long term interests of the Club.

On paper, fair enough, maybe their plan looks sensible. But the loss of Neil, who basically IS The Colliton Club will greatly displease all the regulars and they will be less likely to turn up. And surely that is what any business is about. Bums on seats, elbows on bars. The financial aspect of the staff structure may look sound but what are they going to do if nobody turns up?

I understand that the Muckspreaders, the skittles team that both myself and Neil play for, have signed up to play there again next season. That’s OK but I can’t see myself going there for any other reason. A bonus for other local watering holes I suppose as they receive my pension.

There have always been rumours about the possible demise of the Club, so much so that we became nonplussed about any new rumours but this one seems to have crept up and finally knocked the Club for 6. IMHO any restructure of the Colliton Club should start with its most valuable asset. It should not start with the post of Colliton Club Manager, It should start with Neil and then sort the rest of it out.

The Committee has shown classic dumbassery. It’s not for me to suggest that there was anything personal involved between the Committee and Neil but I’ll just leave that there.

The Committee has alienated itself even further from the regular punters, it has shot itself in the foot, it has cut off it’s nose to spite it’s face, it has shown immense ineptitude and I hope they get a jolly good roasting at the AGM in a couple of weeks time. They will doubtless keep repeating that they are sorry to lose Neil but it’s in the best interests of the Club. They will say that if we wanted a say in proceedings, we should have got involved in the Committee. But the fact is, Committee, you have made a major major error here and I’m pretty convinced you are not going to come out of it smelling very pleasant.

Will the Club survive? Not sure. Doubt it. Don’t really care any more.

Will Neil be OK? Sure. He’ll be sad about losing the Club but he’ll be OK. He’s still got the Muckspreaders after all. We’ll always be around, even if we move somewhere else.

Will Neil have a leaving do? Several I expect.

I suspect that I am just one among a huge number of people who wish Neil well in his next venture, whatever that may be. Just hope he shuts up about his magnificent chip on to the 15th green.

To the Committee – you suck.

Jezza

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Jezza Clarkson is Marmite. No doubt about it. I’m one of his most devoted fans but I remain sensible enough to admit that he can be a complete ass from time to time. He is often accused of homophobia, xenophobia, rascism, ageism, religion um ism, foodism, styleism, motorism and any other isms you care to invent (like I have).

What many people don’t choose to consider is how much he ‘is’ what he writes. To some extent of course, this is down to an individual’s opinion but you’d be hard pressed to convince me that he is seriously out of line. IMHO he’s a cheeky monkey and that’s as far as it goes. He creates a character for the public to see.

He once interviewed Alastair Campbell and said ‘I don’t believe what I write, any more than you believe what you say’. He knows how to press the ‘EDGY’ button and does it with humour and intellect.

Unlike the likes of Roy Chubby Brown, or Frankie Boyle who think it OK to make a series of rude, offensive comments whilst completely forgetting to make them funny,

Many of Jezza’s books are just a compilation of his Sunday Times columns and they make perfect bogside books. They’re not only rib-ticklingly funny but offer many surprising insights and a few startlingly accurate predictions. Take this for instance, written a full 13 years ago, from The World According to Clarkson Volume 2 in a column entitled ‘Hoon’s thinned red line is facing the wrong way’.

Of course, these days you could argue that Britain hardly needs any armed forces at all because we’re little more than a bird, riding around on the back of the rhinoceros that is America. We get to feast on the fleas that live in its hide and, in exchange, the mighty US military will stick its big horn into anything perceived as a threat.

That’s fine, but what if the day comes when the rhino is no longer a responsible democracy? What if it one day elects a president with an IQ of 92 who decides to pick a fight with some large and fairly harmless state in the Middle East?

We’d have to trudge along, and it would be so expensive that the RAF would even have to think seriously about selling its trombones.

Originally published in the Sunday Times 25 July 2004

Not sure about the ‘fairly harmless’ adjectives and the IQ of 92 seems a bit generous, but the gist – or possibly jist – was spot on. He’s been selling about 10,000 books per WEEK for the last 20 years so I’m not the only one on this side of the Marmite divide. But if you hate him, that’s OK.

Spreader Man

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Cycling is fab as long as you stick to the cycling paths wherever possible. Good exercise, fresh air, get places and time to think. The picture was taken today on the Rodwell Trail. Simply gorge. During today’s nip to the Cove, my brain went on it’s own journey. I was probably remembering that advert of an emu taking off to the theme of Rocket Man by Britain’s favourite bad tempered old queen, Sir Elton John. That, along with a wonderful day out on Sunday with my skittles team, the mighty ‘Spreaders, my brain churned this out…

Spreader Man

I turn up mostly on a Thursday night
Zero hour 9pm
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss my house so much I miss the quiet
Now I’ll be out my face
On such a row-ow-ow-owdy beer fuelled night

And I think it’s going to be a long long time
Till I throw out my special skittling pants
I’m not the man I used to be by far
But I still dance, on the alley floor
Spreader Man – flopping down my fat on wooden planks.

Bars ain’t the king of place to bring your kids
They’re not allowed to come
And there’s no one there to feed them or wipe their bum

And every game we play we do our best
It’s such a laugh 1 day a week
A Spreader Man, a Spreader Man

And I think it’s going to be a long long time
Till I throw out my special skittling pants
I’m not the man I used to be by far
But I still dance, on the alley floor
DORSET FLOP – flopping down my fat on wooden planks.

(fade out…………………)

It’s surprising that there aren’t more injuries

Especially to my elbows and my knees

There’s Crouchy’s little brain up in the trees

Now Jord is largely absent (he’s got fleas)

And Jock is rarely in this Cun Ter Eee

Poor Nigo’s skittling average is 43

We have Stuey added to our company

Pablo would rather watch some rug er bee

Little Drewster has a bladder the size of a pea

Skipper Luke has moved out to the Cun Ter Eee

Little Squeak mutters on continually

Baker Kirsty has moved south to live with Steve

And will still miss the lovely Mrs Eveleigh

That’s far enough from me, I’m goin to leave.

Colliton Club AGM

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There are rumours that long time Colliton Club manager Neil Gatehouse is being ‘eased’ out of his position. Neil is indeed part of the furniture at the Club and I for one will be very sad if he goes. It’s nice to see all the support for him both here and in general gossip at the Club. He is in a unique position with his vast experience of dealing with every aspect of the Club.

Turning up at the AGM with a determined face expressing support for Neil will be very touching but that alone is unlikely to change anything. I know very little about the planned re-organisation but my name has been mentioned so I will offer my opinions. If you read this, please remember that I want Neil to stay, forever. But, you must be prepared for the committee’s response.

They are likely to have their proposed business model on hand to pass out to anyone interested. This is likely to be heavily based on finance and they are likely to emphasise that the current structure of the Club is not viable and they are looking to secure the future of the Club to the best of their ability.

They are likely to express their unbridled sorrow that the re-organisation does not have a place for Neil in his current position and they are likely to say things like ‘no one man is bigger than the Club as a whole’. I would discourage accusations of a personal vendetta against Neil as this will be easily defended by a denial and that the decisions were purely financial…. blah blah blah

They are likely to ask why, if you are so interested in Club business, have you never shown any interest in being on the committee?

They are unlikely to say ‘Actually you’re right, we’ll leave things as they are’. I suspect that the only way to change their decision is to grab hold of the restructure plans, Business Model or whatever they call it these days – and propose an alternative, with Neil still at the helm. This will not work unless the bottom line finances are similar to those in their plans, as well as covering all other necessary employment positions.

Business Analysis is something that I always avoided and poked with a dirty stick. Looking at whatever they have come up with would baffle me so coming up with alternatives would be impossible for me. Maybe if you ask on here, maybe somebody will have knowledge – or may know somebody who could help – bearing in mind that the AGM is only a month away. I’ll ask around but I’m not very hopeful.

SUMMARY.

Let me state again quite categorically that I would hate Neil to leave his role as Club manager. To me and many others, the Club would never be the same. However, it is unlikely to be the catalyst of the club’s demise. The committee will be expecting opposition to their plans and by the end of the evening their overused catchphrase is likely to be ‘to secure the long term future of the Club’. Are you prepared for that argument?

If you are still reading this you are possibly a bit miffed at the things I am saying but I’m just trying to prepare you for stuff IMHO that you are likely to face whilst displaying your opposition to the plans. If I had the answers, I would tell you what they were but I don’t, so I felt that all I could do was to prepare you for the probable committee’s response.

You probably think that I have pee’d on your chips but it has been a genuine attempt to help your (our) case. The committee will be prepared for your protests, you should be prepared to respond to their explanations.

Tis a noble effort from Chris Harris to start this group. I wish everybody good luck and for my part, I shall have a think about finding a cheap freelance Business Analyst!!