Monday, 23 April 2007

Stalked by the Lib-Dems

Listening to: The Size of a Cow (The Wonderstuff)
Watching: Family Guy
Drinking: Earl Grey

I've said it before, but Shrewsbury is a delightful place. OK, it has it's problems, just as any town of 60,000 people does, but in the main, it's a peaceful, friendly spot.

That's why I'm outraged that we appear to have been targeted by the scumbags from the British National Party at next month's council elections.

Apparently we are just the kind of people that these retards believe are ripe for conversion to their cause.

I know they have spent a lot of time and energy trying to pose as a legitimate political party, but they are anything but. They are a bunch of violent headcases who really believe that the colour of someone's skin, their language or the place they were born makes them somehow better than someone else.

Don't believe any of the tripe about how good they are at getting your bin emptied or tidying up your street. When elected, BNP councillors have invariably proved lazy, stupid and ineffective. Many also have convictions for violent crimes.

So, in view of all that, I strolled out on Sunday morning with my brother-in-law, nephew and son to spread the word.

I'd done this before, the last time being in the Ashmore Park area of Wolverhampton where we were persued by two carloads of fascist chimps.

It therefore came as little surprise to find ourselves being stalked as we made our way around the Sundorne area of Shrewsbury. But hello, what's this? A change of image for Nick Griffin's stormtroopers?

Gathered in the car park of the Coracle pub was a sight more terrifyig than 100 skinheads. Beards, sandals, NHS specs? A sight that should strike fear into the hardest of hearts. The Lib Dems were out and about, tooled up and ready for action.

My bowels have only just settled.

Incidentally, the party formerly known as Labour has, in many areas refused to co-operate with anti-BNP campaigning. Clearly too worried about upsetting the Daily Mail/Sun readers. Hang your heads in shame.

It's a blank canvas

Listening to: Brazen (Skunk Anansie)
Reading: Update (monthly magazine of the Devon Association of Smallholders)
Avoiding: responsibility
Fuming: that was definitely a penalty
Drinking: back on the Guinness

The first prospective buyers have been around the house and the fact that it's for sale is now a reality in my head.
The agents rang on Saturday morning to say a young couple were in the area and wanting to come and have a look in 20 minutes.
"Fine," said I, suddenly painfully aware that I was in my boxer shorts and t-shirt with a severe case of morning hair (and breath, if I'm honest).
Having quickly dashed throwing covers over the dogs and the teenagers, the (very young) couple arrived at the door and were quickly being given the finest line in homeowner bullshit.
They had been to view Gary and Lindsey's house next door and, given that they have done a lot more work on it than we have, I found myself telling them 'it's a blank canvas'. Good grief!
So I'm now being enrolled in cliche boot camp where the crap soundbites and meaningless 21st century TV-inspired phrases are squeezed out of you.
"You worthless piece of shit, did you just say 'you've been on a journey'?"
"Sir, yes sir!"
"Get down and give me ten, you pathetic excuse for a former evening paper hack!"
"Sir, yes sir!"
.....and so on.
Oh yeah, the couple rang the agents later to say the kitchen was too small. So, guys, size really does matter after all.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Hold on, we're on our way. . . in a bit

Listening to: Confess (The Levellers)
Reading: Starting with Pigs (Andy Case)
Watching: Newsnight
Drinking: ice-cold Stella

Shrewsbury is a lovely town, particularly when the spring turns out to be as beautiful as this year's (thanks for the carbon emissions everyone).

But I can't be hanging around too much longer. The estate agent will be here tomorrow, the house is sparkling like John Travolta's teeth and we are ready to do business. Thrust £195,000 into my hot and sweaty bank account and a delightful semi in a quiet suburb is all yours.

There have been unforeseen complications that have made moving away from the Midlands particularly hard and at times my mental and emotional strength has been tested to the very limit.

You might scoff, but fulfilling a dream is nowhere near as easy or even as fun as it sounds. Confidence has been a major issue. Virtually everything I have tried to do since accepting redundancy last year has been on a learn-as-you-go basis and stumbling around in the dark can be pretty wearing.

The fact that I have returned briefly to journalism on a freelance basis to get some money in has not helped, the contrast between the world where I feel comfortable and confident in my own abilities and the world where I know very well I am winging it being a stark one. My wife tells me it's just a matter of practice, but I've been practising snooker for 35 years and I still haven't won the world title.

Still, I'm about ready to go now and get on with the next stage of my life. I received an e-mail from a pig breeder near Thurso, telling me he had stock available if I wanted it and I'm inclined to say 'I do'. That means getting the finger out, packing the croquet set and heading north.

As sun streamed through the bedroom window this morning, the BBC weather forecast managed to drag itself away from the London area to tell us that there would be wintry showers and gales in the Northern Isles. Great, can't wait.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Heaven can wait

Listening to: I Am The Resurrection (Stone Roses)
Reading: To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Watching: Glorious (Eddie Izzard)
Eating: Mashed potatoes (with mint sauce)
Drinking: too much

So here we are at the beginning of April and still stuck in the Midlands, the giant stride where no former sports writer has boldly gone before on the backburner for a few weeks thanks to the great single problem we like to refer to as life.

The whole move to Westray hinges on us getting the cash together to pay for the renovation of the house and farm buildings and set up a business. That would be no problem as we have two houses to sell, both bought before the astonishing (and surely unsustainable) price rises of recent years.

Easy, huh?

Well it would be, but this is us and being a bit half-soaked, it hasn't gone smoothly.

My wife's house in Wolverhampton has yet to be sold for a variety of reasons which I won't go into public, while my DIY dithering means our Shrewsbury home is still a few days away from going on the market.

Things came to a head about four weeks ago when we decided that I would put back my hoped for moving date from the beginning of March until. . . well, that's yet to be decided.

Apart from the house problems, there are one or two other issues that needed to be seen to before rushing off to Orkney, not least my new habit of buying Land Rovers. If I left as planned, it would have meant Sal having to sell two houses, two cars, look after four teenagers, hold down a full-time job, feed and muck out a horse, find time to sleep. . . the tears were a bit of a clue, so I decided to stay on for a few weeks.

Back to the Land Rovers. The Beast has sat outside like a mobile traffic-calming measure for several months, roaring occasionally up to the stables so I can tend to needs of the horse from hell (more of which later).

However, fun though a Series II Land Rover is, it's bloody uncomfortable, noisy and not too keen on starting on cold mornings - oh how I and the busload of commuters laughed when it stopped dead in the middle of the road just outside our local newsagents in February.

That prompted me to look for something a little more suited to our needs (comfy seats for a start). My mum's next door neighbour and a very good friend of the family Monica had recently treated herself to a Land Rover Freelander which left her 14-year-old Discovery surplus to requirements.

Negotiations took about as long as it takes to pop the lid on a jug of scrumpy and I was off to Devon to pick up the new, improved. Actually, I've called it Lennox because it's big, black and you wouldn't want to get into a fight with it. It rumbles along at 55mph, doing 40-plus to the gallon (take note Mr Chancellor, you ignorant,townie numpty), it tows like a dream and I feel pretty damn good in it.

Sadly, as predicted in a previous post, this means The Beast must go. It's a shame because I like nothing better at 7.30 on a Sunday morning than chugging along our street making sure everyone is up. Spike, my Jack Russell terrier, will miss it as he has learned to open the passenger side window and loves to lean out, ears flapping in a carefee manner while he yaps and snarls at any other dogs he considers to be worthy of the attention (that'll be all of them, then).

Despite that strong emotional attachment, The Beast is up for sale and buyers are asked to start haggling at around £1,500.

In case any of the four people who view this site were wondering (thank you Mr and Mrs Wainwright, I don't know what I would do without you), I've let it lie for several reasons: 1 Too busy, 2 Too lazy, 3 Too unable to get near a working computer, 4 Too unwilling to get into an interminable argument with a certain Reg Pither in which neither of us would accept the other might be a little bit right. So there.