The trials & tribulations of supporting…

… what is, quite possibly if not most definitely, the most annoying, aggravating, nonsensical football team in the whole wide world. No, let me rephrase that: quite possibly within our known galaxy if not the entire bloody universe, that’s if they play football these days somewhere on Beetlegeuse?
It’s that feeling I get, rumbling from somewhere deep inside my nervous, overworked bowels whenever they dare to appear on telly in various weekend highlight shows, and they haven’t even kicked off yet but I’m already throwing insults and thick puffy cushions at the TV screen at just the mere thought of them being useless and incompetent in their eye dazzling blue and white hoops. I’m already screaming and shouting rather nasty swear words in the general direction of our brand new number 10, who we paid a whole 15 shillings for after he was discovered face down in some nightclub’s urinal, but who has two, quite possibly three left feet and an obvious aversion to any physical exertion.
Welcome then to my obsession with Queens Park Rangers. What’s it all about?
Now don’t get me wrong, but there was a time when we were actually quite good… But, unfortunately, I blinked and missed it. In the eighties we had the likes of Stainrod and Allen, Currie and Gregory, Roeder, Fenwick and the blonde bombshell that was Stevie Wicks who had an entire family named after him in a once popular television soap.
In the sixties, before my father got his finger out and got round to conceiving even the mere idea of me, the poor sod, we even won a cup… A cup that meant something in those days… And at Wembley no less, between the old twin towers, at the time when football was a man’s game – the striker smoking Capstans between the time spent goal hanging and nutting an unsuspecting centre-half, and when the pitches were little more than muddy fields being occasionally ploughed by a team of ferocious shire horses. But, for a short while, for one entire season, Q.P.R. were really good, and I mean really, really good; the archetypal “Best Team To Never Win Anything”. We were really effing good!
For ten whole minutes, when football was unpopular and jumpers really were an alternative for goalposts, my little team from somewhere in west London, W12 to be precise, were the team to watch come Saturdays at 3 o-clock – see, I told you it was a long, long time ago: youngsters up and down the land now looking to their dads and gasping in incredulity, “3 o-clock?” Did football teams really play at 3 o-clock? What, on a Saturday?
We played with something they once called panache and exuded flair, while having guile and bags full of skill: actual bloody skill, not that fake ‘skill’ you fall for on You Tube. We dazzled equally in blue and white hoops or red and white halves, and with a ball of purest white but weighing more than a breeze block at their feet. We had the moustachioed Phil Parkes “between the sticks”, whatever the hell that meant but he was in goal. We had Dave Clement, David Webb and Frank Mclintock in defence with Ian Gillard somewhere out on the left. We had Masson and Hollins as the lynchpins in midfield with Gerry Francis, beneath his early efforts at an already burgeoning mullet, and Davie Thomas with his socks rolled down, buzzing around them and tearing up the wings, supplying the ammunition to Ireland’s Don Given’s up front. It gives me goosebumps, even now. But, there was someone else, normally up front when not at a bookies, down the pub or frequenting some local dog track, and it was his name that rang out the loudest, above any other for ninety minutes, plus injury time.
“Stan-ley! Stan-ley!”.
His name was Stanley Bowles, and he wore the fabled number 10 proudly in red upon his back, or black if we were adorned in those halves. He was cocky and arrogant but he played with a smile of carefree abandonment, of one completely at ease with his God-given talent… And he was, without a shadow of a doubt, if for just that one brief season, 1975-76, the best player I ever had the pleasure of watching; of whom it was once said, “If only he could pass a betting shop the way he can pass a football”. He was simply majestical, fluidity in complete hypnotic motion, and his almost telepathic relationship with Gerry Francis, our Captain, England’s Captain, was most definitely and wonderfully magical. He was a flawed genius, and aren’t they all, but Stan Bowles was our flawed genius. And, and here’s the thing that will shock and confuse, for this was the day before large squads, squad rotations and of highly paid players needing a hard-earned rest from playing football twice a week, this team, this wonderful, brilliant team, never seemed to change. 1, right through to number 11, it was almost always exactly the same, given the odd injury or suspension. The game was played, week in and week out, over and across muddy pitches the mere sight of which today would put the fear of some god into a Rooney or have the precious “legend” that is Danny Sturridge reaching for another note from his already overworked doctor; to be gratefully signed off for another 9 months, but still fit enough to collect those multi-millions in wages.
For one brief and beautiful moment in time we were going to win the league. We were actually going to win the bloody league!? And everyone, Scousers and Brentford FC fans aside, willed us on to win the bloody league, they loved to watch us. We had one hand firmly on the First Division trophy. We were on our way, dreaming of European glory… Before Wolverhampton bloody Wanderers capitulated that fateful night and a Keegan-inspired Liverpool, with the aid of their obligatory penalty, wrenched it from us with brutal if somewhat boring efficiency. And the dream, for however brief, lay dead, scattered to the four winds that raged their disgust down South Africa Road before turning left into the Springbok pub. But it had been fun, to my young eyes at least. Young eyes that watched The Big Match, or Match of the Day, with eager wonder, whilst sitting cradled somewhere between two grandads and a proud father frantically waving blue and white woollen scarves, and the odd wooden rattle, proudly above their heads, gleefully knocking back pints of Watney’s Party Seven and singing rude songs berating “bloody Chelsea!”
Oh, we’ve been fleeting in our wonder since and flattered to deceive on rare occasions; the days of Terry Venables in the eighties; under Gerry Francis as manager in the nineties, London’s top club no less; the fight and grit and togetherness that we felt under Ian Holloway, especially at Hillsborough that most glorious of Saturday’s, and they were exciting, don’t get me wrong. But that team, for just those precious 9 months? When we dared to dream that we could actually reach out and touch those bloody stars.
Stanley is now suffering from the cruel ravages of Dementia and Rangers are quite rightly holding a benefit match against Bournemouth on the 29th of this month, (or July if you’re reading the repeats on Dave), for arguably the greatest player to ever wear those beautiful Hoops – my dad swears blind it was Rodney Marsh, but… If you aren’t able to attend the match then can I ask you to just root around in your pockets for any loose change and the next time you are passing a tin that is seeking donations for the Alzheimer’s Society, then can I ask you to just drop it in, whatever you can afford? All contributions, I am sure, will be gratefully welcomed.
Annoying? Yes.
Aggravating? Oh like you would not believe. And nonsensical, without a bloody doubt! But still…
Come on you Rs! Come on you Super Hoops. And thank you to Stan Bowles for enabling us to believe then, and remember and relive now.

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Hello…

Hello? Is anyone there? Has she gone yet?
Are we alone? Is it safe to come out now?
Has Katie Price, also known as the “former Page Three glamour model, Jordan”, left the building and moved on to her next victim, I mean, next date yet?
Oh, thank God. That means I can get on with my life again, finally. It means I can now return to something resembling normality.
The fake buxom “model” has been loitering around outside for hours now, ringing my bell incessantly and tapping at her wristwatch, “coo-cooing” loudly at me through the letterbox and upsetting my poor little dog, who’s now a complete nervous wreck – not to mention the effect she’s had on the postman! But, ah, at last, it would appear to be over now and I can come out of hiding, and remove this rather itchy fake moustache.
Peering through my curtains, discreetly, it appears that she has finally given up and moved on, and my relief is palpable, as I am sure you’ll understand. But, with my relief comes, of course, the feeling of immense sorrow, as well as the intense agony of what they call, “survivor’s guilt”, and in particular for one Edmund Galiforth from Warminster, Wiltshire, who’s next on the “former Page Three model’s” to do list.
My thoughts are with you Edmund Galiforth, from Warminster, Wiltshire. May God take mercy on your soul, because the former Page Three model now rapidly heading your way determinedly ain’t half hungry now… And just ever-so-slightly bloody peeved.
Keep safe, my friend.

uh-oh…

By my admittedly basic calculations, I have come to the inevitable, gut-wrenching conclusion that next Wednesday, at ten to three in the afternoon, it will be my turn to sleep with Katie Price, also known as the, “former Page Three glamour model, Jordan, aged 39.” Yeah, right.

Therefore, I have absolutely no alternative but to go into hiding immediately for my own well-being. Who knows how long I’ll be away for, or exactly how many weeks I’ll have to remain hidden behind this fake plastic moustache, but, until I return, keep well folks and keep ‘em peeled, just in case any big buxom “models” stagger your way. Oh, and if I should die, remember this of me… That, probably, without a doubt, I went out screaming!

You ain’t seen me, right?

Waltzing Matilda

It would appear that I am somewhat massive down under.
No, now stop that, that’s not what I meant at all and you know it… But thanks anyway.
No, what I meant is that I seem to be very popular amongst our Antipodean cousins! Perhaps, in me, they see something of a replacement at last for the legend that was Paul Hogan? Or Castlemaine 4X? He could tell a great joke, Castlemaine 4X. Not as funny as Fosters maybe, but, nevertheless, funny enough to have you rolling around the aisles with your sides aching; it made up somewhat for the fact that it tasted shit! Crocodile Dundee wasn’t too bad either: “That’s not a knife… This is a knife!” See, pissing yourself, aren’t you? Or have you just had too much 4X?
According to the stats WordPress so kindly provide regarding every posting I make, over the last few days they have shown that I have had 50-odd viewings and 5 comments from here in good old Blighty, thanks Mum, 17 viewings from the States, mostly from those incarcerated within their Penitentiaries – I always said that they were a discerning lot despite insisting on leaving the bosom of our great Colony – 7 viewings from South Africa, of which only 2 appear to be searching predominantly for free porn, 2 from India just yesterday, hurray!, and a whopping 23 from Australia!!!! Twenty bloody three! And they can’t all be from my mate Ali, surely? He doesn’t like me that much.
Who would have thought it, though? Who would have thought that so many kangaroos can read? Not to mention of course, the odd… (I was going to add ‘Koala’ to the punchline right about there, but I suddenly realised that I couldn’t spell it – damn! And I can’t replace it with Dingo, because that would just be stupid. We all know that Dingo’s can’t read. They’re far too busy eating babies).
Perhaps I should arrange a World Tour? Take a live version of this utter drivel out on the road for my now numerous fans? See how far you can get on an out-of-date Oyster Card during a heatwave?
I can see it now. “Hello, Adelaide! Good evening, Perth!” Being told to “sod off!” by the whole of Sydney.

“Tomato, tomato…

Potato, potato.” Who actually says Potato?

Whoops! I have just worked out that this post doesn’t work too well when it’s actually written down, when it doesn’t contain any phonetic spellings to helpfully highlight those subtle differences I was hoping to obtain! It worked a lot better, and sounded a hell of a lot funnier, echoing about alone within the confines of my own head; which is where, perhaps, it should have stayed? So, all I will add is, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

People must be reading this and scratching their heads, thinking: “What is this funny looking moron on about now? I know, I’ll just go and read The Whirly Girl instead. She makes a lot more sense!”

But, before you leave, here is a quick word of advice from our sponsors, some Veterinary Group located all across a small radius of North Devon and Cornwall.

As the weather continues to get hotter and hotter, please remember not to leave any animals unattended in your cars… You’ll find that they’ll cook a lot easier in a microwave.

I think you’ll agree, wise words indeed.

Will the last one to leave please turn out the light and close the door behind them. Thank you.

“You are so lucky…

“…to live in such a beautiful part of the world,” people always tell me with that specially chosen eagerness that betrays jealousy. And, normally, most days, they are quite right of course. As I tell them to their faces, with that especially smug expression reserved for just an occasion, the north coast of Devon and Cornwall is an absolutely beautiful, idyl place to live and to write. I mean, if you can’t find inspiration here, looking out as I can, across the beautiful beaches and far out to sea, then… But, there is the rare day when, to be honest, living in Cornwall should come with a large Government health warning. Take the other day for example.
I decided, out of some kindness lurking somewhere near the heart of my overworked bottom, that I would take my lovely little retriever Holly for a walk – her standing by the back door, tightly crossed in both the leg and eye departments, not having any influence upon this decision whatsoever, I hasten to add. Anyway, away we went with her leading the way, as usual, and pulling me impatiently towards either the beach or the Brendon: whatever happened to have the more readily available supply of biscuits or appear over the horizon first.
Now, I like to tell myself that I am quite an observant sort of chap, for a writer especially, and that I can be quite quick on the uptake, and as such I could tell, I had an inkling as it were, that there was definitely something peculiar about that day – as we finally made it across the wobbling lock, down the steep steps and over the uneven cobbles that lead to a beach that, on this particular afternoon, resembled the surface of a moon, right down to the fake footprints and the lunar surface vehicle lying on its side – that should have warned me that conditions were perhaps a little harsher than one had come normally to expect.
Maybe it was the Mallard ducks unusually cartwheeling along the canal? Or the Jackdaws and Heron gulls flapping like mad just to stay somewhere near-to stationary overhead, before giving up and being blown about 10 miles inland with loud, desperate squawks of: “tell my mother I love her”? The boats, including the Royal Navy’s latest frigate, now marooned upon Crooklets Beach, or the multi-coloured huts re-enacting that very particular scene from The Wizard of Oz?
Perhaps it was Mary Poppins being inadvertently blown from the rocks, high into the air and straight into the jet engine of a plane on its way to some unknown destination, all the while bravely singing “A Handful of Sugar…” with no expletives whatsoever and for all she was worth? The poor old man being tossed like tumbleweed across an otherwise empty beach should have, at the very least, piqued some interest you may think, or maybe, just maybe, it was little Holly herself, now rapidly heading back the same way we had just come, with her tail between her legs and an expression that said: “Sod this for a game of soldiers”?
My poor little retriever, now battling hard with golden ears of the especially fluffy and cute variety forced stiffly back as she tried her very best to lean into the rushing wind whilst I called out her name, bent forward as I was by ninety degrees by the rather brisk breeze and stupidly daring nature to do its very worst as the sand whipped about any exposed extremities and blasted the very skin from my cheekbones. Would I ever learn? Mother Nature, absolutely no sense of bloody humour.
“Come on Hol,” I somehow managed to holler between deep breaths. “Let’s call it quits and go to the pub.”
It had taken us three days to get to the beach, having to make base camp at numbers 38, 32, and 24, continually battling through blistering conditions that Ray Mears or that Fiennes geezer would have willingly surrendered to, choosing instead to stay within the safe confines of the Antarctic and risking attack by the mutant penguins you hear so much about these days thanks to pollution and/or Global Warming, and yet it took only three minutes and twenty-seven seconds to be blown up Lynstone Road, flying straight past my new house and up and over the cliffs of Widemouth Bay, sailing over seals busy harnessing themselves to rocky perches.
And do you know what my thoughts were as I was blown towards the middle of the Atlantic?
“Oh yeah, I’m so lucky to be living here.”
Well, that and: “If they want me to call it Wydmuff Bay, spell it frigging Wydmuff Bay.”