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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: http://www.justgiving.com/findelaine

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I thought at first there’d been a mistake..

.. when a caller dropped me off a cake.

cake

These happen to be a words from a song I’m pretty fond of (see video link below), but also what actually happened to me on Sunday.

My Ma had arranged to pop around for some technical support related stuff which, whilst it turned out to be pretty genuine, was a front for a sneaky arrangement she’d been making.  Because she’d been clandestinely arranging for me to in so that a visitor could drop off a surprise for me.

Margaret, who runs a company called Maggie’s Marvellous Cakes has pledged to make one cake every week for somebody, and opened up nominations via Facebook which is where Ma continued the recent theme people seem to have taken up with a zeal which is making me feel awkward about the whole bone marrow donation thing.  Indeed, it was even mentioned during our company’s last balcony briefing (although mercifully the senior dude in question clearly didn’t have his notes so didn’t know my name!).

Anyway, residual awkwardness aside Ma popped off to ‘pick up her hat’ from the car and came back with Margaret who was bearing a big cake box.  I was ensconced on the settee with a laptop on my knee sorting out Ma’s iTunes and was a little bit confused even as she explained why she was there.  As she was on the way to walk her dogs there was no time for tea and a lengthy chat so the long term impression I’ll have formed will have been as a slightly shell-shocked mute.

However, the New York style cheesecake festooned with strawberries and blueberries was a visual and literal feast enjoyed by all of us.  So if you’re in the market for some rather splendid cake then you should certainly give Maggie’s page on Facebook a look, or maybe nominations are still open if you know somebody deserving of a surprise tasty treat?

Unlike in the song below by Miles and Erica, I didn’t take a slice and wrap up the rest – although I did share with Ma, Dad, Cat, Rich and Em – and we still have enough left for small slice each tonight.

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Bone marrow donation video diary #3

Post-surgery update – it was a success on all levels, the necessary amount of bone marrow has gone winging its’ way to the recipient, and whilst a bit tired and bruised I feel pretty good!

Learning that my recipient is a young boy feels really fitting, as I joined the scheme as part of Joel’s campaign – and it’s especially heartening as a child has a better chance of recovery too.

Not that I ever thought I would, but I genuinely have no regrets at all and feel very pleased to have been able to help somebody like this.

In that vein, please consider registering if you are eligible at Anthony Nolan or, if over 30, Delete Blood Cancer

I discovered today that we have a little over 500k registered in the UK. Germany have more than 4 million, and a high proportion of UK sufferers of blood cancer owe thanks to that given the genetic similarities between us and the Germans leading to more matches.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could follow their lead and achieve that kind of number of would-be donors?

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Bone marrow donation video diary #2

Just a short update this time, fear not! I’ve arrived safe and sound at the London Clinic and am currently sipping orange juice watching Deal or No Deal!

Tomorrow morning is the operation, then the deed is done!

As before, if you’re 30 or under please consider joining the register at Anthony Nolan. If you’re aged 31-55 then you can register at Delete Blood Cancer.

Thanks! And see you on the other side!

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Wiggle your big toe…

image

I don’t often cast myself as Uma Thurman, but a couple of weeks ago as I sat on our settee compelling my foot to move upwards in the aftermath of having drop-foot and it twitched a bit, it evoked that scene in Kill Bill where ‘The Bride’, lying in the back of a pick-up truck, strains to shake her limbs from entropy.

As her toes begin to twitch on the screen, she smiles and states that the hard part’s over – now let’s get those other little piggies wiggling.

Since that moment I’ve probably regained about a third of the movement I’d lost – it’s most apparent when I’m not working against gravity, so being a reclined kind of person means I have plenty of opportunity to sit flexing my foot up and down as far as I can whilst watching TV or otherwise relaxing.  If I’m standing or sitting with my feet on the floor it’s more of a twitch than an actual movement.

Still, it’s positive to see actual signs of recovery – it’s been getting on for four months since it initially happened – obviously in the interim period I’ve also had the medical diversion of ‘Susan’ to distract me from this longer term problem.  So there’s light at the end of the tunnel, I’m just not quite sure how far it is to walk to get there – but I’m certainly looking forward to the prospect of getting back on the football pitch again.

I probably won’t do so sporting a yellow jumpsuit whilst toting a Hattori Hanzo katana though – although I do have a katana at home!

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Boys from the Dwarf..

As a boyhood Red Dwarf obsessive (a fairly short look through the family photo albums will find my mid-teens saw me basically living in either Red Dwarf t-shirts or Forest shirts) I never quite got to the SciFi convention level of fandom.  But it was great to spend time at a relatively intimate ‘Evening With..’ the core members of the cast since the show’s inception (or since the third series at least, in the case of Robert Llewellyn).

With Danny John Jules arriving late (apparently not an uncommon occurrence!), it was left for Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn to lead the entertainment in a fairly informal Q&A led by Al Booth.  Most striking was their ease in the company of each other (for the time before Danny arrived, Craig and Chris were sharing a bar stool – although I’m not sure if they realised!!), and the natural banter they almost couldn’t help engaging in.

I guess being a soap actor now it shouldn’t be surprising, but Craig Charles has an amazing capacity for remembering lines from random episodes – be they his own or his fellow cast members – rivaling even the most avid Dwarf aficionado in the crowd where the other panelists might’ve been floundering a bit trying to remember disparate scenes or pieces of dialogue.

The predictably huge demand for photos and autographs at the end by the assembled gaggle of nerds and geeks (of which I include myself, of course) meant that I shelved the fourteen year old me, and headed home rather than queue for ages, desire for entertainment sated by four of my favourite TV personalities basically sitting together and having a laugh like the bunch of old mates that they clearly are, but including the room in their recollections and in-jokes.

Kudos to Lee for seeing up the evening, with it going so well there’s every chance this could be something that happens again in the future – if it does, then I would heartily recommend it.

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We can share our endorphins..

It’s probably not escaped the attentions of many that I’ve been a bit of a grump of late – changes at work have been troublesome, and I succumbed to illness which I’m probably still coming out the back end of in terms of recovery.  That said, there’s been a plenty of good things too – live music aplenty, meeting the Levellers and other such things.

But something else that passed me by a little bit was that I haven’t been playing football for some time – I’d been carrying a thigh strain for a while, which was – despite my best denials – getting worse.  It had started out as something that might ‘go’ at the end of a game, developing to something that ended up with me not being able to kick the ball properly from the start of the game right through to hurting when I walked.

Having admitted I needed to rest it fate conspired to force the issue – I was ill, then the Nottingham branch of Powerleague where we play flooded and combined with a clash of diaries (which involved using going to see Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds at the Arena on Tuesday – which was AMAZING) it’s forced my hand into not playing ’til today.

Running around – admittedly in the freezing cold – felt good, and as I took my first tentative ‘substantial’ kick at the ball it was great to not feel that frustrating pang of pain in my right thigh – it was fine.  Indeed, despite warning the chap that picks the teams that I was a few weeks out so not fully fit, I didn’t struggle as much as I feared in keeping up and we managed to snag the win in a close fought game.

I’ve read before that your wellbeing (not just physical, but mental) can be enhanced through exercise – and I think I’ve been missing my football more than I’d realised.  So it was good to get a game under the belt, a few goals and a good win.  With Christmas party season upon us there’ll be a few more games that I’ll miss out on – but at least that’s for positive reasons rather than negative ones like injury, illness or floods!

Tomorrow I’m off to Derby to see Simon Friend’s Seismic Survey (Simon’s one of the Levellers) with some friends and staying over (so decadent, Derby ain’t exactly the other end of the country) and Saturday sees a trip to the City Ground, a Christmas dinner with my Forest friends and a trip up to Warsop to see Ferocious Dog finish off Dogfest, which is already a rather splendid sounding weekend before we factor in Masterchef finalist Michelle Burge coming round to consult us on food she’s going to cook for us a week tomorrow!

In an unusual move I’ve actually elected to organise a birthday party next year too – okay, when I say organise, that’s over-egging it – Ferocious Dog are playing the Rescue Rooms so I’ve just invited all my friends to grab a ticket and celebrate with me in the finest style I can envisage!  Rock and roll!

Whilst I’m focusing on the positive it’s good to not have a bloody ridiculous moustache any more!  Below is a half-arsed montage of Movember 2012 from my point of view!

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Levelling the band..

I like the opportunity to combined my interests, and last night was a chance to combine my under-stated obsession with the Levellers and the BBC Children in Need charity.  Cambridge 105 ran a charity auction for some Levs related swag which I won – and rather than post the stuff to me tour-manager Phil clocked I was in Nottingham, as were the band, in the next few days.

So through the lovely Claire at Cambridge 105 an aftershow pass had been arranged at Rock City for me to collect the goodies straight after the gig.  Still feeling a bit under the weather I had the interesting experience of watching the Levellers barnstorming set completely sober – it certainly didn’t spoil it.  They’re on as good form as I’ve ever seen them at the moment, blending a nice mix of old and new, well known and more obscure – it was a great selection of songs performed awesomely.

It was also great to see some familiar faces join them on stage to play über-catchy ‘The Recruiting Sergeant” at the end.  I had thought I was recording it for posterity but well, a technical glitch means I either deleted it or never recorded it in the first place – grr.  Post-gig I found tour manager Phil who led be back stage where he handed me a bag of stuff including a signed drum skin lovingly artified by Jeremy, a customised satchel, a Truth Is vinyl and some cufflinks.

Being a bit of a merchandise whore for Levs stuff there’s some duplication, but that’s okay!  It felt a bit strange accosting people who are frankly heroes of mine for photos when they’ve literally just finished an intensive set of performing – but they were lovely and very gracious.  Of course all I could think of to talk about was the kind of banal crap they must hear after every show, thankfully that probably consigns me to a non-specific memory bank of gormless fans for them!

Which means in one fell swoop I’ve completed my collection of ‘pictures of me with Levellers’ which had been standing at 3 over a few year period.  Big thanks to Claire and Phil for organising the opportunity and of course to Simon, Matt, Charlie, Jeremy, Jon and Mark for indulging me when they probably wanted to get down the pub (and to Chris for the lift home).  I think perhaps I might have been better off getting leathered beforehand!

Back on to a dog-tastic weekend of Ferocious Dog action this weekend – it was great to see lots of fellow doggers in the crowd (not least Dan who was on stage for the last song).  We’re off to see them play in Beeston on Saturday night and then in Derby on Sunday night.

For now, I can admire my bag of swag – and think what I can do with my awesome (used) drum skin!  I must be one of a select group of people who now owns two pairs of Levellers cufflinks too!!

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And the devil sends the hell hounds for me..

I know I mention Ferocious Dog quite a lot, but watch the video below, then go and check out their tour dates – and go and see them.  It’s awesome that Nottingham has an artist at the top of the album charts this week, but there’s more to local music than just Jake Bugg – we should embrace it, support it and propel our talented musicians into the prominence they deserve.

Also recommended is their debut album and forthcoming EP – because they’re as good recorded as they are live (but you can’t quite beat them live, in my opinion!).  Get yourself some awesome local music now from this link!

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In the land that calls my name, can’t you see we’re all to blame?

It’s testament to what went before that watching Forest limp to a disappointing defeat to Derby on our own ground couldn’t really do anything other than put an unsavoury finish to an awesome weekend.

I plan on keeping this brief, this was my Friday night:

And this was my Saturday night:

So Sunday’s disappointment and a slightly underwhelming impulse trip to the Speedwell Cavern near Castleton can be merrily consigned to the memory dustbin leaving a weekend replete with musical splendidness courtesy of The Levellers and Ferocious Dog.

I’ve even managed to add Oscar and Rich to the ranks of fans of Ferocious Dog along with Chris – so we’re already availed ourselves of tickets for their next gig in Southwell in a few weeks!

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