Having missed Sweden v England last Saturday NOWT was going to come between me and Croatia v England on Wednesday. Driving home on Saturday with Howard, my festival colleague and friend, in the contentment of the sinking sunshine, an air-conditioned car, and having enjoyed a lovely day, an unpleasant thought smattered through my blissful demeanour just as we hit the A69. Was there an entry in my diary for a training course one evening over the coming week? I went quiet for a bit. As soon as I got home I made straight for my lovingly updated World Cup chart sellotaped to the back of the kitchen door. S*** England were playing on Wednesday evening, and I was indeed scheduled to attend an input on conflict resolution in relation to my part-time job with Gateshead Council. I have no need for an input on this subject, my method works fine:
“I’m big you’re little, I’m right you’re wrong, so shut up.”
The session was held in the far side of Gateshead at 5.30pm and was scheduled to last for two hours. Kick off was 7pm. I ran a finger down my well relied upon list of how to get out of things; Excruciating diarrhoea, uncontrollable vomiting, broken ribs, flat tyre, cat not very well, Heather not very well, escaped wild animal in the tree outside, street light fallen through the conservatory roof, bird trapped in the chimney. All of them plausible enough on any other night, but likely to be greeted with snorts of disbelief on this particular evening.
Twenty or so of us turned up, in fact everyone except the tutor. Was she wanting to watch the England game herself or did she just assume that her classroom would be empty and decide not to bother? Either way most of us didn’t care and I was back in my armchair in time for kick off. A disappointing result but an amazing run. When England arrived in Russia I wondered if their aeroplane pilot should keep the engine running, but I think we all would have settled for the achievement of our first semi-final in 28 years, and I believe our young team are destined for further glory. Roll on Euro 2020 and World Cup 2022.
We’ve been displaying two large St. George’s flags on our outside front wall and smaller ones on the car. James and Danielle who live opposite have gamely responded with a flag of their own, albeit quite a discreet one. It goes to prove my point from an earlier chuntering, a little perseverance and it’s perfectly possible to drag the neighbours down to our level, no need for us to keep up at all.
I never forget October 22nd 2015. This was the date of Robert Pires and Thierry Henry’s disastrous penalty attempt against Manchester City. That embarrassing afternoon (I’m an Arsenal fan) is etched upon my brain. The rest of the day didn’t get much better. I met Heather for the first time in a bar in the west end of Newcastle. She thought I had no sense of humour and I (in surreptitious text messages to my mate) declared her “rough.” Neither opinion has changed much, but Heather is treating me to a surprise weekend in Hawkshead to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our civil partnership. We converted to marriage as soon as the law allowed, but July 14th 2008 is the date we celebrate. Well actually it usually passes by unnoticed, but it is ten years after all so we’re making an effort. We had to get married to each other because nobody else would have either of us. Here we are thirteen years on…. she’s still just as rough.
It’s always lovely to receive feedback, and I had a welcome email from Ossy Clark the other day. Ossy lives in Ryton village and clearly has times on his hands because he reads this blog. He remembers my Dad teaching him technical drawing and had kind words to say about him. Thank you Ossy, I hope we meet very soon.