Author Archives: Alan

Gigs, geeks and getting older..

I’ve had a fun-filled time of late – plenty of awesome gig action, the Levellers were amazing in Buxton.  First up we got to see the film A Curious Life, a semi-documentary type film that Dunstan Bruce of Chumbawamba fame has put together.  It was a charming insight into a band that has been a fairly constant feature of my life for the last twenty years or so (wow, twenty years!).  This was followed by a mesmerising acoustic gig.

Before that I finally did the giving blood deed – it wasn’t remotely traumatic so I shall certainly be signing up for a repeat performance.  I was convinced for some reason I had blood type B (probably because my Mum does), but it turns out I’ve inherited my Dad’s blood type of A+ – no matter really, but interesting nonetheless!  It certainly made the relatively small number of beers I had before the gig have a quicker impact than they normally would!

Where Levellers tread in my gig-going life then Ferocious Dog are sure to follow – I’ve been writing about them in some detail over at Ferocious Blog.  The tour started at the Bodega in Nottingham which was a magically awesome day, and I’ve been lucky enough to head to Nuneaton and Barnsley subsequently to see their next shows – they’re on rip-roaringly good form so looking forward to heading down to Harlow on 27th when the tour recommences!

Team Holly!  Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

Team Holly! Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

After these last two gigs it was time for EM-Con – a sci-fi convention organised by one of my good friends Lee Wallis.  I’d volunteered to help for the day and he bagged me the awesome job of being an assistant to Hattie Hayridge for the day.  As someone whose childhood was played out watching (and quoting from!) Red Dwarf it was a great opportunity – and mercifully it turns out Hattie is a lovely lady to spend the day with chatting nonsense and reminiscing about Red Dwarf!

I'm officially a joy to work with.

I’m officially a joy to work with.

It’s true being busy working with her all day dealing with fans wanting her to sign stuff meant I didn’t get to take in much of the other attractions at the convention, but that’s okay – having been in Barnsley the night before I wasn’t exactly full of energy so sitting down all day and chatting with someone who played a significant role in a lifelong favourite show was a perfectly good way to be spending the day!


Arlo as a Ferocious Sprog

Then it was my birthday which I’d booked holiday from work for as is my habit – given the previous days gig-going and convention volunteering a quietish day was an appealing prospect, but I did get to go see my Granny, have a burger at Annie’s and have a lovely stroll around Colwick Park with the folks, Rich, Emma and Arlo – so it was all told a rather splendid way to spend the day followed by a resurgent interest in Red Dwarf on the media server!

Last things last Forest took on Rotherham last night and in a largely uneventful game two moments of absolute magic saw the Reds emerge 2-0 victors.  The unplayable Mikael Antonio set up a chance for Dexter Blackstock to delightfully lob the too-far-out ‘keeper who could only touch it into the goal, then the marauding winger picked up the ball in his own half and powered his way past three defenders before planting the ball in the bottom corner from 25 yards.  It was Collymore-esque.

The benefit of a couple of days holiday at the start of the week means that the weekend is already looming large on the horizon.  Tomorrow sees a more chilled gig to see the awesomely talented Paige Seabridge, a quiet Saturday will be followed by Sunday where there’s promise of seeing Ellie Keegan and Sam Jones’ open mic night at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Got to love music!

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Busy bee watch the world go by…

Phew. It’s been a busy ol’ time, it seems.

Forest briefly turned not rubbish before losing to Charlton, which gave a bit of much needed cheer at the City Ground under the stewardship of Dougie Freedman.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles this latest setback with the not unchallenging arrival of Middlesbrough at the City Ground this weekend, but the new manager has undoubtedly made a good start (much like his predecessor).  Doubts remain over his longer term future at the club so I remain a bit dubious – I hope he’s here for a while though, I’ve been impressed so far.

Now I half know what’s going on at work that’s been quite busy but really interesting too – it’s nice to feel like you’re actually able to contribute something useful having spent a few months acclimatising to a very different industry indeed.  Still lots to learn, but I at least feel like I roughly know what’s going on – it’s always a good starting point I find!  Certainly a lot of perceptions I had before working in a media-maligned industry have been proven rather inaccurate.

I’ve got a couple of days off now to take in the Levellers, followed by the Ferocious Dog tour kicking off at the weekend.  Whilst I mention Ferocious Dog I set up a separate blog about them partly for indulgence, partly because it stops me flooding this blog (hmm… maybe trickling this blog!) with writing about them, partly because I couldn’t resist the pun-tastic opportunity to register, partly because they’re on a real roll and someone else would’ve done it sooner or later and I’d have kicked myself having been pondering it for ages, and well, because it’s a fun side project since I lost momentum on blogging about Forest!  So should you desperately miss reading about them – head over there instead!

The weekend should be great though – an opportunity to catch up with countless friends and hear the new line up for the first time and some new album tracks – what could be better!  The countdown to giving blood is nearly up too – that happens tomorrow before I hotfoot it up to Buxton to see the Levs – the dauntingness of it somewhat compensated for by a cunning plan to have a massive carvery just beforehand!

Ooh, and Pebble have announced a new watch they’re launching via Kickstarter again – which I’ve tempted myself into.  It’s called Pebble Time and there’s also a Steel variant – this time round it has a colour screen and a microphone, and my beloved original Pebble is a bit battered so I think an update is justified.  I shan’t be accidentally taking the new one into a mosh pit or on a climbing wall, that’s for sure.  Whether that does enough to quell the inevitable desire for the soon-to-be-launched Apple Watch remains to be seen – but I think I’d like to see them out in the wild a bit before deciding anyway.

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That keen sense of belonging.. that feeling that I’m home..

I mention Ferocious Dog occasionally, I know.  It’s an exciting time to be a fan of theirs though, indeed, it generally has been – but with a refreshed line-up and a recent announcement of a headline slot in the main room at Rock City in November it’s properly a case of the year of the dog, what with a new album coming in the next few months too (and the tour starting in 10 days!) it does feel like the dawn of a very special chapter for them, and I feel privileged to be able to tag along for the ride.

It was back in late 2010 I first saw them play, I’m sure I’ve told the story before here, because they’d arranged for Mark Chadwick to play up in their home venue in Warsop and were the support act.  I’ve been smitten ever since, and started going regularly to see them – skulking at the back normally taking videos.  Eventually I lured friends to come with me – and being the shy bogger I can be eventually starting to get to know the initially daunting pack of ‘hell hounds’ that follow them passionately.  I’d count myself as one of those now.

Sooner or later the lure of the mosh pit – observed so many times but avoided – became too much one night at the Bodega in Nottingham, an outwardly brutal but surprisingly considerate arena of pseudo-battle that is pretty much perfect for a work out for any latent aggression and enhancing the amazing music the band produce.

I already have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to my family and friends, but I’ve significantly enhanced that with the scores of people I’ve got to know and bonded with through regularly attending gigs.  It didn’t matter that the friends I’d previously lured were less keen to go to quite as many gigs as me, as I knew I could go to any gig pretty much anywhere and know people there – or get to know others.  Of course, Andy has taken to it like a duck to water too and doesn’t take much persuading to come along too.

After a few bouts of being bashed around the moshpit and due to the absence of the regular role-filler I found myself being hoisted horizontal at shoulder height at Bearded Theory to act as a surfboard for Dean when the band played ‘Freeborn John’ – a signal honour and something that’s happened many times since – and it’s always felt like a genuine privilege, even on the one occasion I got unceremoniously dropped on my head at Dogfest last year!  It’s a great exhibition of the camaraderie and teamwork that might go unnoticed to the untrained eye in the chaos of the pit.

Subsequently I’ve even had my first tattoo – a Ferocious Dog logo – on my calf inked by none other than its designer, and founding-member and frontman of the band, the incomparable Ken Bonsall last year in August.  Another landmark was reached on Sunday – a light version of the band, comprising of Ken on guitar and vocals and Dan on fiddle, played at Sam’s acoustic evening in the Brown Cow at Mansfield (a night you should most definitely check out – I’ve been to a fair few now and it’s a great way to round off a weekend, and Sam is a fantastic performer too).

Ferocious Dog draw quite the crowd these days so whilst perhaps the time of arrival a few of us chose might’ve been overly cautious (ha!) – it made for a lovely afternoon of chatting nonsense with people I’d never have known if it weren’t for the band, followed by a standing room only gig at which Dean was adamant we were going to do a role reversal – so I was to graduate from surfboard to surfer.  It was a daunting prospect in a packed pub with furniture and glassware not to mention people, but it was pretty clear that refusing wasn’t an option – plus, let’s face it, what an awesome thing to get a chance to do!

So once the song kicked in there was a bit of confusion when folk realised they were picking Dean up instead of me – a quick leg up and an undignified clamber and there I was, hunched under the deceptively low ceiling and trying to find my balance.  I loved it, and it felt like a real coming of age moment – and particularly nice as it’s my favourite FD song being a bit of a John Lilburne nerd.  I’m looking forward to the possibility of a reprise at a full band gig – and there’s plenty of those coming up at the Bodega in Nottingham, Nuneaton, Barnsley, Derby, Deerstock and I’m sure others over coming weeks and months as the dates on the tour become more difficult to resist!


I’m not one to take people for granted, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in your daily doings and not take a pause and reflect on how blessed you can be thanks to random circumstance.  Being comfortable enough to go and see a band I love at pretty much any event they play and feel like I’ve walked into a family party is a very nice safety net to have no matter what else might be going off in your life – so to all of you good folk who create that, and there’s too many of you to list, I thank you very much indeed.

Oh, and the music is bloody amazing too from the nicest bunch of grounded lads you could ever wish to meet.  If you’ve not heeded me before and jumped aboard the burgeoning Ferocious Dog bandwagon then you bloody well should and get yourself a ticket for their gig at Rock City on 28th November when they go on sale on Friday.  Oh, and the support is Gaz Brookfield (whose lyric I mercilessly stole for the title) and Mad Dog Mcrae.  It will be immense.

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Far from home..

Once of the ‘perks’ of having a hefty commute to work means you have time to ponder – pondering whilst driving over the last few days is what has prompted this silliness.

Obviously over recent months I’ve been further away from my home town both in living and certainly in working terms than I’ve ever been, but will always consider myself a dyed in the wool Nottinghamian.  Of course, that I now live about 14 miles from that city and work a further 40-odd miles away would suggest I’ve not really spread my wings that far, but it still feels quite significant sometimes when I catch myself in ponderous mode.

So it’s funny that sometimes your habits or observations can echo life.

I shall explain what I’m yammering on about.  It’s been a habit of mine for years to listen to BBC Radio Nottingham on the way to work – indeed, it’s proven a most fortuitous habit really if you think about it – but anyway, I’m lucky enough in Hathern to still be comfortably in the range of my erstwhile local radio station so I still get to enjoy Andy Whittaker’s dulcet tones as I blearily drive to work.

However, as I hone in on Tamworth Services you start to get a bit of static on the airwaves (how many Levellers references can I sneak into here? 😉 ) and normally it will start to fade into nothingness around 10 miles out from Solihull.  Very occasionally, presumably depending on atmospheric conditions or something, I’ll retain a faint signal all the way to our overspill carpark as I pull up – and the signal is still tantalisingly available when I return to the car to head home, but usually it’s either died or bizarrely turned in to BBC Radio Oxford for some reason.

In my head at least it’s a neat metaphor from being further away from the familiar than I’ve ever been – of course, familiar is an interesting choice of word there as it derives from the same latin root as family – and that is probably what has kept me sane throughout all of the literal versions of these themes that I’ve been pondering over the last few months.

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Bloody hell..

As ever the weeks wimble on by and I don’t think of anything to add to the blog.

It’s the time of the year when people traditionally sit and reflect a bit and maybe plan for the future – I’ve never really been very good at the future planning part – although I’m very prone to reflecting.  This time last year I was lying awake in a ward in the London Clinic having foolishly nodded off earlier in the evening and thus being wide awake awaiting the next morning when I’d be of to theatre to be anaesthetised and undergo an operation.

And it all went bloody well – last I heard the recipient of my stem cells, a small boy, was still alive and doing well having obviously been in a very bad way indeed.

One of the things I’d idly planned for the future for ages was to start giving blood.  Mainly because it’s a good thing to do, partly because I’ve got it into my head my blood group is B which is relatively unusual (that may well turn out to be wrong – although certainly with blood groups in my family it is certainly a possibility).

So today I registered at and made an appointment in March to do that very thing.  I’ve avoided it in the past because I absolutely hate needles and letting blood – I passed out when I had to give samples to Anthony Nolan prior to my donation (although probably because I did it early in the morning on an empty stomach as much as anything!).

You can’t donate blood until a year after donating bone marrow hence the delay, there’s also a time lag after having a tattoo or piercing so my awesome Ferocious Dog tattoo in August was quite well timed on that score.

If nothing else I’ll at least get to confirm what my blood group is!

Of course another Christmas and New Year has been and gone – it was great to take some time out and spend some time with family and friends whose generosity and warm spirit was as appreciated as ever, it was definitely good to get some down time, even if my immune system took a break and let a cold get me earlier in the month.

On the work front I’m finally feeling like I might actually know what I’m doing a bit more – still lots to learn, but that’s true of any job.  I guess the rest of the year is about sorting out all the other things that occurred over 2014 that’s left pretty much every area of my life fairly dramatically different and somewhat transient.

Maybe that might even be fun.  But anyway, I’m not big on resolutions but I think signing up to give blood is a pretty good one – if you haven’t then maybe you should too, it’s dead easy to register and find donation sessions near you online.

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Wax on.. wax off.. wax out!

I don’t think this really merits a blog post but since it’s been a while and I’m feeling good about something I suppose it will just have to do.

Today I went to have my ears syringed after three weeks of blockedness and frustration – and it is just so damn good to be able to hear properly again, and realise the extent to which it had become a problem.

I have pretty narrow ear canals and as such am prone to this – in the past I’ve been able to kick start any issues by administering olive oil based drops which – and this is lovely – softens the ear wax and lets your ear do its thang naturally in clearing away surplus waxy build up.  Sadly this wasn’t enough this time and I found that around three weeks ago I was pretty much deaf in one ear.

After trying the usual olive oil based treatment and convincing myself it must be some kind of swelling so hammering the ibuprofen too, I relented and went to the doctor after I saw no improvement who confirmed it was impacted earwax causing the problem, and that my ‘good’ ear was in pretty bad shape too.  Deep joy!  He prescribed some sodium bicarbonate based drops which I was to use for a couple of weeks to soften it up in preparation for a revisit to see a nurse to get them syringed.

It’s something that can come with horror stories attached – directing a reasonably powerful stream of water at something as fragile as your eardrum does have inherent risks but frankly I was in so much discomfort I was about ready to take a drill to my tabs to get some relief, so really the only concern I had was the two week wait before I could get some relief.

When still finding your feet in a new job and getting to know people not being able to hear properly is quite a hindrance, I found too that because it distorts how you hear yourself speak it means you end up speaking more quietly yourself, so not only was I having difficulty hearing others, they couldn’t hear me either and probably even now are thinking “Who’s that really quiet dude who joined the business recently?” – so I’m looking forward to being able to unleash my inner gobshite in the office tomorrow!

Anyway, the drops did their job and the consequence of that was both ears ending up blocked presumably due to the now more pliable gloop in my lug holes – lovely!  The stingy prescription allowance of 10ml ran out with a few days to go so I picked up some Otex, a Hydrogen Peroxide based pharmacy ear drop, from Boots just to keep the momentum for the last couple of days.

Then today, blessed relief, a trip to see the nurse who checked me over before blasting away into my ears by turn and giving me my hearing back – such a relief, and for your own relief you’ll be glad to know I resisted the fairly strong urge to take a photo of the surprising amount of detritus she was able to extract from each of my ears.

I dread to think how long this has been building up into the final problem I ended up with – so I’ve decided to be a bit smarter and use the olive oil based drops I already have more proactively to stop such a build up occurring in the first place – enjoyable though the process was, the reality is that this was only the case because it gave relief from such a frustratingly debilitating situation, one I’d rather avoid in the future.

Gosh, health care tips on the blog that no bugger reads and to think I left Boots nearly three months ago!

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Taking sides

It’s normally the case when Apple release some new tech. As an unashamed fan of their products there’s normally a queue of people waiting gleefully to try to derail whatever modicum of excitement or interest folk such as me may show. Who knew aluminium would bend under sustained pressure? Did you know that a Samsung something or other could perform that new feature x years ago? Yawn.

None of this really bothers me (although sometimes I bite on Facebook 😉 ) but it’s interesting and got me thinking more widely about such motivations, and how people still readily jump to polarities with little provocation or need.

It seems to me as a species we seem very prone to irrational polarities. Which has always sat rather uncomfortably with me, I’m a creature of comfort when people are in harmony. If someone especially loves whatever flavour of Android phone they have then I’m pleased for them – indeed, as a selfish consumer of shiny things the more the competition up their game then the pressure remains on Apple to keep improving too – and vice versa, of course.

At secondary school people were divided into liking Rock or Rave – before the needless subsubsubgenrefication of music took sway, I secretly liked a bit of both. On the tech front you either liked Commodore Amigas (naturally!) or Atari ST’s (urgh!). The meagre differences in their merits built up to gigantic gulfs during bolshy playground debates (I was pretty entrenched in camp Amiga on this one – although when networked up together the ST always seemed to win on Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 2!).

In the sixth form we were told we must either like Blur or Oasis by an overexcited Britpop obsessed media, I liked both with a slight preference for Blur, although Pulp were and are better than both. It’d be around this time that I’d begin an enduring affair with the Levellers of course which quickly resolved that ‘debate’ for me in a different direction – but even then (and still now amazingly) rather than focus on the frankly amazing music they produced (and indeed, continue to produce) instead people make snide tabloid-inspired remarks about dogs on bits of string or being a crusty.

This is a band who’ve endured 25 years of being, have a veritable string of hits so are even validated somewhat by the facile trappings of the music industry, and continue to tour to thousands of people every year and run their own festival as well as appearing at countless others. They must be doing something right! If you doubt me, grab their recently released Greatest Hits album and decide for yourself.

People who like similar music even fall into the division trap – I always imagine a continuum of folky-indie style music (now who is subgenreing?!) starting (this won’t be an exhaustive list!) with bands like The Wonder Stuff and 3 Daft Monkeys – plenty to say, but with a sense of fun and not taking themselves too seriously through to say, New Model Army who I’ve always found more serious and sometimes bleak (that’s not a critique, I really like NMA too!) – the Levs sit somewhere in the middle with aficionados of the former group finding them too serious, those of the latter too frivolous.

I guess being a football fan is the ultimate expression of our tendency to polarise things that are fundamentally very similar – being a staunch Forest fan obviously the city of Derby is the worst place in the world, and its fans are remorselessly moronic. Which is palpably absurd – I’ve had some great nights out in Derby and count a number of ‘sheepshaggers’ as my dearest friends. Obviously that all goes out the window for 180 minutes or so per season, but normally I can be pretty rational even on this most divisive of topics.

Politics of course is like football fandom taken up a notch – although because I don’t really feel much affinity for any of them – and vote generally tactically to try to thwart the one I like the least – but I see staunch supporters of either red or blue passionately debating what to me seem like minuscule differences between the policies, performance and conduct of their respective parties – whereas I’m left thinking they’re both a bit pants really.

I’m not sure what conclusion I was leading to here really – I’m sat in a hotel room having been on a course for the last few days and I’m bored blogging on my phone! But wouldn’t it be nice if – certainly for trivial differences such as these – people didn’t leap to create division and conflict?

Okay, maybe not for the football, as that’s fun (so long as it doesn’t lead to genuine abuse or violence). In truth though, even the footy ‘banter’ (god I hate how that word has been misappropriated!) is probably symptomatic of a fairly fundamental flaw in our collective nature which leads to cataclysmic consequences particularly in the political and religious spheres.

This is all probably a residual tendency from our more tribal past. Or something. It’s worrying though because it’s precisely these motivations that organisations like Britain First or even UKIP leap upon to exploit – fortunately for me my Facebook feed is relatively clear of such bilious content but I see plenty of folk complaining about theirs.

So what started as a covetous piece about my desire for shiny capitalistic consumerism has started to make me reminisce about manipulation of needs and other university time heavily left-leaning learning – goddammit, maybe I’d be less of a schizophrenic paradox if I had more of a proclivity to just irrationally pick a side and stick with it!

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Flowers don’t grow up as one, each finds its own way to the sun..

Infrequent updates on here make it quite easy to gloss over things that might have happened over a matter of months let alone days, such is the lot of the infrequent blogger.

However, 2014 has been a pretty seismic year for me so far – it kicked off (almost) in a clinic undergoing a bone marrow donation and leads to here – and it was picking up a letter from Anthony Nolan last week that prompted the prose really.  It was the best letter I’ve ever had, I think – it was short, it was quite impersonal and it was non-specific – but the gist of it was that the young boy who was recipient of my stem cells is still alive.

There’s no more detail than that to report – but it’s amazing news nonetheless and hopefully my chosen inference that he continues to battle and recover from either Leukaemia or Lymphoma is an accurate surmise on my part.  Whatever extra time that procedure has granted him is a blessing, but of course I dearly hope for a full recovery.  I’m looking forward to hopefully further positive updates which are likely to arrive over probably years rather than months.

Thinking back to January is a bit strange – I was living in a home I part-owned (admittedly Leeds Building Society owned most of it, but still), in a long-term relationship and worked at the same company for getting on for a dozen years.  What a difference a few months makes as I now find myself temporarily ensconced with my ever-dependable parents on the verge of selling the house, no longer in a relationship at all and a week and a bit into working for a new company.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself a bit to make me realise quite what a shift in circumstance I’ve undergone – and whilst of course such decisions aren’t made lightly, with particular pleasure or indeed easily I do think the big picture is positive albeit deeply unsettling for someone who generally takes comfort in stability and predictability.  Oh, I became tattooed as well, which was also a special moment as I had the honour of being inked by the lead singer of one of my favourite bands (a band who continue to go from strength to strength, having just smashed the twelfth Beautiful Days festival!)

IMG_8390Most seismic of all was that I became an Uncle!  Emma gave birth to Arlo who has already packed more into his first few months than many children will in years – including a trip to Ibiza!  He’s naturally been to the Parrot Zoo already as well!  I’ve never really paid much attention to babies before but it’s definitely different when the baby in question is such a close relative – I’m really looking forward to seeing him grow up – he’s already got a Forest season ticket despite being too young to take advantage of it (or should that be be punished by it?!).

IMG_8254There was profoundly sad news in that time too – in June my (our, really) three birds became two as Phoebe succumbed to suspected kidney failure – despite picking this up quite early unfortunately the vet wasn’t able to do anything for her and she passed away having spent the night with the vet ready for further examination in the morning.  I won’t lie, it was pretty devastating not least for Cat who was estranged from her (but mercifully did get to see her shortly before the end) and Frankie who was very much her partner in crime.

So, once the house is sold and sorted and I’ve settled into my new professional life which involves trekking out to the West Midlands (and indeed, oop North quite a bit) I’ll be in a position to make a better call about what to do more permanently about my living situation.  I’m reticent to move my personal life away from the comfort of Nottingham but I’m also mindful that I’m already looking at an hour commute (with a fair wind – and the schools are off) here in Hathern, Nottingham would add half an hour or more to that potentially.

Decisions, decisions!  But in the meantime I need to get to grips with a new industry – I’ve inherited a great team which I’m really thankful for so the ‘new kid at school’ feeling has been minimised as much as possible, but obviously I need to get up to speed and settled before deciding how to settle other matters – so that’s the plan, get the house sale finished, then take the opportunity to save like buggery to try to make whatever next move I make as easy as possible and preferably with as small a mortgage as possible.

Coupled with that of course there’s a new wave of football optimism with Stuart Pearce taking the helm at Forest.  Not unplaced “we’re going to win the league” type optimism (although we might!), more a relief that the club seems to be on more of an even keel on the professionalism stakes – I find myself daring to hope we might enjoy a bit of stability and long-term planning rather than the series of knee-jerk tactical misjudgements we’ve been subjected to over recent years.

Having the chance to witness Psycho’s return to the City Ground against Blackpool was a special moment that I’m sure all Forest fans relished, especially those of us of a certain age who idolised the man as a player for both Forest and England.  He’d have to do a lot wrong to lose the backing of the fans, so let’s hope that Fawaz takes our lead and gives him time to build a sustainable and hopefully successful future for the club.

So all in all, a pretty eventful few months in most areas of my life that are important – but apparently change can be good, and I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve been able to adapt to some quite significant differences.  If you’d asked the Alan of a year ago of the likelihood of all this happening then he’d have probably laughed a bit then run away to hide in terror – but in truth as with most things I guess the thought of change can be a lot more scary than the act.

I have absolutely no idea why I’ve decided to chronicle all this beyond perhaps hammering home quite how much has happened recently for my own indulgence.  So if you’ve read this far, yes, this is a very self-centred post!

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Shameless begging..

parrotsRich and I have a couple of charity escapades coming up in the next few weeks which of course we’d welcome your support for.

First up we are donning our trusty parrot costumes again to raise money for the Parrot Zoo.  Whilst wearing these we’ll endure an overnight stay in one of the country’s reportedly most haunted buildings.  Yes, come 9th August we’ll go to Nottingham’s ‘Galleries of Justice’ (formerly a prison, courtroom and site of execution) and spend 7 hours or so hunting for ghosts.

You can sponsor us by visiting our JustGiving Page, or by texting GHOS73 and an amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070.  All the cash we raise goes straight to the zoo and helps the thousands of birds they take into their care who’ve been victims of either abandonment or circumstance and now are lucky enough to enjoy a happy and healthy life amongst their feathered brethren.

Fast-forward to September and we’ll both be joined by four like-minded loons in a mission to abseil down the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.  Dressed as punks.  Obviously some time after the festival itself has disbursed!  This is an event to raise money for SOS Africa, a fantastic organisation geared up to provide education to impoverished children in southern Africa.

You can sponsor the group for this even too by JustGiving too, or alternatively you can text PUNK76 and an amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070.

If you’re in a position to support either – or even both – of these events then we’d be eternally grateful as would both the charities to help them carry on their fantastic work.  Thanks all!

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Wake up and find the stars, you don’t know how lucky you are..

I’ve not written owt on here for ages, and I’m not really sure why I feel compelled to now aside from some insomnia-easing listening to 3 Daft Monkeys gave me the headline which seems to have triggered a lunchtime stream of consciousness heading in no particular direction.

Home-based upheavals aside it’s been a reasonably busy time – work’s got plenty on, and as the football season came to a climactic end at Wembley last weekend we’ve got the World Cup to look forward to.  Prior to the play-off final I actually confessed to the numerous Derby supporting friends and colleagues that I have that I did have a part of me that actually wanted the Rams to succeed.  What? I hear you say. It does feel dirty – but putting the obvious parochial disdain aside the way that they have gone about their season has been a good model to aspire to aside from the final game of course.  Young players, attractive football, not spending a fortune – contrast that with QPR who have operated beyond their means for time immemorial – part of the very problem that blights football.  I won’t deny though that come the day and come the end, Zamora finishing off a beautiful lay-off from Richard Keogh after Jake ‘Bucko’ Buxton was turned inside out was actually pretty damn funny and I think the ferocity of my enjoyment perhaps betrays my true feelings.

Plus it’s nice to have the chance to play ’em again next year rather than either looking enviously upwards as they hone in on the reaching-12-points party.

photophotoBefore that I went to a wedding at a zoo – how awesome is that?  Jen, who I work with, married Ade – it was a lovely ceremony in the manor house in the grounds of Chester Zoo, so I got to enjoy the usual celebrations that go with a wedding with the added bonus of getting to see a load of animals too!  I have been probably rightly criticised by fellow colleagues upon returning to work that I maybe took too many pictures of animals and not enough of the wedding, but I know some more of my team were being suitably snap-happy with proper cameras so I think between us we have it covered.  Aside from the obviously awesome wedding shenanigans the two highlights outside of that of note were one of tour guides pointing out her colleague was ‘attempting to force their way in from behind’ (fnar) and a clumsy male Jaguar going from lurking mysteriously in a tree to ending up on the floor under the branch that just snapped. On top of his very unimpressed looking female Jaguar companion.

The photo to the right probably doesn’t do it justice, much as the photo on the left taken zoomed in certainly doesn’t do justice to the happy couple and their awesome wedding cake made by Jen’s aunty.  It was delicious.

Then on to next weekend through a series of fortunate events I find myself with a ticket to go and see Carl Froch hopefully smash George Groves into the next millennium at Wembley Stadium, which will hopefully still be damp from Derby County tears.  I’m not big into boxing, but ‘the Cobra’ is not only from Nottingham, he’s from my bit of Nottingham so it’s good to support him.  After the controversial stoppage of their previous fight (which is a shame really, as Froch was clearly about to take him out).  So fingers crossed for a favourable outcome there.

On a penultimate note, check out this awesome video that aired on Notts TV the other day.  Alas I’ve yet to check out the channel as I don’t have Freeview at the moment, plus being just north of Loughborough I might not be able to access it as we’re likely to point at the wrong transmitter.  Anyway, a tribute to Torvill and Dean from the good people of Nottingham.  Dancing on Ice certainly isn’t something that generally floats my boat, but their performance of Bolero was pretty special even for this immovable object, and the tribute from regular folk from Nottingham is charming:

Finally the news we had hoped wouldn’t happen was the result in the search for Elaine, she was found and sadly was no longer with us.  Her funeral was beautiful and moving, her family and friends brave and courageous – and Andy in particular deserves your support for an epic challenge that he’s undertaking to raise money for the charity ‘Missing People’ who helped him through the process of undertaking the search while it was still live.  To do that he’s cycling from Edinburgh to London – if you would like to support him, then do it by clicking here and sponsoring him:

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