Positive Outcomes Of The Corona Virus Lock-down…



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I saw something quite lovely last night. I’d gone for a run, and as I reached my hour’s limit I headed for home. As I entered the lower end of my street and rounded the corner I was greeted by the sight of four of my neighbours, all stood on their individual doorsteps, well over 2 meters apart, each with a large glass of wine in one of their hands.

They were all in high spirits as they enjoyed their apéro, chatting and laughing away, one of them even gave me an ‘ooh la la’ as I jogged past, and they all bid me a good evening and a how do you do.

Now I know most of the people on my street, and this group is not one I’ve ever encountered out and about, and if you saw them individually you may not put them together. They had a distinctive ‘Breakfast Club’ feel to them, as though they had sought each other out during difficult circumstances, and were forging new relationships.

I’d like to think that when this is all sorted out – whenever that may be – and we can all  emerge, and start to resume some semblance of a normal life again, that there may well be new, lasting friendships, created by this virus. It would be ironic if this thing that is isolating us all, and keeping some of us apart from our nearest and dearest, actually made us reach out to people that were even closer to home, perhaps people that we’ve never talked to, or socialised with before – maybe even people who live right next door. One can but hope, eh?

An Ode To Wakefield, The City I Grew Up In…



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Wake up early on Saturday morning.

Up before the rest of the house.

Dash downstairs to get a bowl of Cornflakes and settle in for the morning cartoons.

Get dressed, grab my stuff and leave the house, hopping on a 102 (I’m a Lupset lad, born and bred) to Wakey.

Get off in the bus station and nip into the bogs, passing by the bus drivers puffing away on fags outside their staff room. I use a cubicle – the graffiti on the walls mean it’s always an education in there – and I make a mental note to ring Sandra, she sounds like a nice girl, although I can’t believe she’ll do all that for ten bob.

I head down to the clock tower and take a seat underneath it, on the cold concrete, sheepishly eyeing up a couple of girls leaning on the railings next to the phone boxes. It’s not long before my mates roll up and we head down to the indoor market to have a gander.

We push through the doors – it takes two of us to open them – and go straight upstairs to browse the computer games stall. We’re not buying ‘owt, we just like looking.

One of the lads wants something new to listen to, so we stop off at the record stand and he buys it.

Then we make our way to Sun Lane, paying our fee and heading inside where we spend a happy hour-and-a-half splashing around and sheepishly eyeing up some girls.

We dry off and get dressed and leave and head straight for Chucky Chicken, pumping ten pence after ten pence into Final Fight, Robocop, Aliens, WWF Wrestlefest and many, many more.

We’re hungry now, so we go to McDonald’s just across the way. We get in line and queue. And queue. And queue. It’s always so busy in here, so many people. We get our food, but it’s standing room only so we head outside and eat on a bench, sheepishly eyeing up some girls while we do, and marvelling at how many people there are. Wakey is always rammed on a Saturday.

We stick our wrappers in the bin and head up the precinct, then we duck down the side of Boots and head inside The Ridings. We ride the glass elevator up and down, up and down, up and down, till the short stocky security guard with the moustache – the one that looks a bit like Super Mario, but with a redder face – starts eyeballing us, and we leave.

To the ABC cinema now, to finish off our afternoon. The smell of fresh popcorn hits us as we enter and pay. We take a seat and the sounds of Pearl and Dean greet us:

‘P-pah, p-pah, p-pah, p-pah, pa-pa-PAH!’

Then we disappear into another world for an hour-and-a-half or so.

The film finishes and we emerge, blinking into the daylight, and we each go our separate ways. I grab another 102 home.

I get off the bus, spotting a few local lads I head over and join them. We play hide ‘n seek and tigs as the sun goes down, only stopping when our mums yell out that ‘tea’s ready!’ at the top of their lungs.

We all say our goodbyes and head inside, the end of another lovely Saturday.

I miss Wakefield.

I miss the Wakefield of my youth.



Experimental Research In To The Impact Of The Corona Virus…



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Experiment: 128

Date: 26/04/2020

Time: 9.55pm

Location: Home

I don tonight’s specifically chosen attire and exit my home. I enter the outbuilding, pausing only to turn on the interior lights before taking the receptacles firmly by their handles. I then exit the outbuilding, again pausing only to turn off the interior lights. I approach the gate and unlock it. I move the receptacles into position next to the front of the house and look both ways up the street. I note the absolute lack of people, on foot or otherwise and note also the eerie silence. Normally at this point – in all previous forays of this manner – the street would have impossibly, almost miraculously, filled with people and vehicles. Tonight – nothing.

I leave the street and reenter my property, firmly closing the gate behind me and head back inside my home. It is at this point that my research assistant (although, having found and read several of my journals she has repeatedly stated that she prefers to be referred to as ‘my wife’) sees me and starts to laugh. ‘What’ she enquires ‘Do you think you are wearing?’. My explanation  – that I am wearing a dressing gown and slippers in order to verify that this strange new world we live in is indeed a changed environment, and that normally – ‘As if by magic’ I add – the street would fill with people if I put the bins out in my dressing gown and slippers – falls on deaf ears as she continues to laugh and adds ‘Stop it, I’ll wee meself’.

I shall continue my research into this strange new world tomorrow when I attempt to perform a three point turn in the middle of the day, an exercise that under normal circumstances would immediately result in a previously dead-silent street filling with eight cars, one truck, two cyclists and four pedestrians.

A Terribly Optimistic Experiment In Crap Songs…


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I sometimes listen to crap songs late at night on YouTube.

I have, over the past couple of months, begun to draw a correlation between the amount of ads I am forced to view and the level of the Corona virus. As an example of this a few weeks ago – when the virus was arguably at its peak –  I could go through almost the entire back-catalogue of Steps, and be forced to watch just one 5 second ad.

Ditto for Genesis.

Last night I’d only listened to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop) by Scatman John, and the masterpiece that is Blue by Eiffel 65, and I’d already endured a 15 second promo for a rapper I’d never heard of, and been encouraged to buy an Apple watch that cost more than my first car.

However it was when Flat Beat by Mr Oizo was interrupted mid-song that I knew we may be turning a corner, and that things seemed to be back to normal.

I am currently testing this hypothesis by playing Barbie Girl by Aqua, on a ten hour loop and monitoring the ad breaks and I will report back with my findings from this at a later date.

I Do Not Own A Cat-Proof Gazebo…


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A Cautionary tale…


Like me you may own a gazebo with a material roof. Like me you may also have areas where the water may gather from time to time, following a heavy night’s rain, causing slight bulges in the material. Like me you may prod these bulges from underneath in order to displace the water.

Do not be like me.

Please check the other side of the gazebo, before you prod the underside to make sure that the bulge is in fact caused by water.

Because that bulge that you think contains water may in fact be a bulge containing a cat.

And let me tell you, cats do not like to be prodded from underneath. Especially if they happen to be sleeping at the time. And cats have claws. And my gazebo roof is made of material. And, well…

So let me introduce you all to my gazebo version 2.0, now with added cat-made skylight…(if you squint you can just make out the claw marks in one of the photos).


Not The Party Goers I Was Expecting…


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There was a lot of noise coming from a distant corner of the neighbourhood last night. A group of people getting together and partying till the wee small hours. Lots of shouting and chanting and general rowdiness – just a normal, youthful party.

It didn’t bother me too much, but where the noise was coming from is quite a built up area, so I thought the gendarmes might have been called, or at least they would have quietened it down a bit out of respect for their neighbours.

I heard from another neighbour that they were at it till gone 4 a.m. ‘Oh well we were all that young once’ I said to him, before adding ‘They were probably just enjoying deconfinement’ he agreed with me, but rolled his eyes.

I happened to have a stroll past there just now. The music is starting to crank back up.

They were all there, in the garden, a dozen or so of them sat around a table full of bottles, getting warmed up for round two tonight.

Youthful? No. Young at heart? definitely

Not one of them looked under seventy.

I also now know why the neighbours didn’t complain – because they’re all there.

I might nip round later on with a bottle myself…

Unless We’re Talking About Jeff Goldblum, I HATE FLIES!


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Have you heard of a New York Second? If you haven’t it’s the shortest possible measurement of time. Standardised as the time between the lights turning green and the taxi behind you beeping its horn.

I’m only asking as I’m thinking of coming up with an even shorter measurement – possibly named a ‘Flecond’. This is the time elapsed between a person starting to paint something outdoors and a winged insect committing suicide by landing in it.

I’m beginning to suspect they believe paint is some sort of doorway to fly-nirvana with the amount that have embedded themselves in it while I’ve been decorating outdoors this week.

Still, at least if they’re embedded in my paint (perhaps waiting for the day far in the future when they can be harvested and the contents of their stomachs can be used to clone people for a Jurassic Park-style wonderland of humans?) they aren’t flying around and around my light fittings.

What is it with flies and light fittings? Does the diary of the average fly go something like this?

Day one: Born

Day two: enter a house

Day three: fly around light fitting 2 million times

Day four: fly around light fitting 3 million times

Day five: drop dead in conservatory

I’ve researched this, as I am that sad, and have found no concrete reason for why they perform this bizarre aerial dance. Some say it is because of the residual heat. I don’t know, but I do know I’ve noticed it far more since moving to France.

Maybe it’s the cheese that drives them mad?

They are also a bane when I go running. I love running when it’s cold. My perfect months are October to March time. Nice and chilly.

Then along comes summer and BAM! The temperature rises, and along with the heat come the flies. I’ve read a lot about breathing through your nose when it comes to running, people say it oxygenates the blood more. I can’t do it. Ironically when asked about whether it was better to breathe through your mouth or your nose an NFL coach famously replied: ‘Stop trying to pick the fly-shit out of the pepper and JUST BREATHE!

So that’s what I keep in mind when I’m running and breathing through my mouth. I try to keep it in mind as I swallow fly after fly after fly.


Still, I prefer to swallow them, if I have the choice, because otherwise they go down the wrong hole and I end up dry heaving in the middle of the road. Nothing quite like a sudden attempt at throwing up an inhaled fly to put you off your stride and negatively impact your run time.

So yes, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet – I HATE FLIES!

So We’re Talking To Furniture Now Are We?


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I’ve just passed my partner on our upstairs’ landing.

She was talking to a chest of drawers.

‘Has confinement gotten to you so much that you’re talking to furniture now?’ I asked as I slipped by her.

‘I was talking to you’ she muttered darkly.

I didn’t believe her.

‘It’s not Beauty And The Beast you know’ I said to her as I went down the stairs ‘They won’t talk back’.

I think it’s the sofa for me tonight.

Made In Yorkshire…


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We’ve lived in France for over three years now.

My kids were 3 and 6 when we arrived, so they’re pretty much French now.

They chatter away to each other and their mum in French all the time.

My son’s just come looking for his pencil case, asked me if I’d seen it.

I told him to look outside as I suspected his sister had it.

He glanced out of the back door and saw her, scribbling away with his felt tips.

He let out a deep sigh and said ‘Aww, bloody hell!’.

You can take the kid out of Yorkshire…

My Current French Language Level Is…


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I had a lovely little spontaneous French conversation this morning, the kind that reassures you that you’re making progress. I was taking advantage of lock-down and painting the front of my house when a passerby said hello. I said hello back and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was painting the front of my house, as I had the time and we didn’t like the previous colour. He said it looked beautiful and wished me well. I thanked him and bid him a good day. Then he carried on down the road, hand in hand with his dad.


Yes alright, he was five years old – but it still counts!

Panic Buying Does Not Impact My Bad Taste…


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They all laughed at me when I told them what my favourite drink was.

‘Water with chemicals’ ‘Monkey’s piss’ ‘Cooking lager’ and ‘Why?’ were just some of the barbed phrases bandied about by my French friends.

We live in dark times, and panic buying is hitting many of the items we love and need.

So it’s refreshing to know that I when I do my big shop I can still rely on being greeted by the welcoming sight of case after case of unsold Kronenbourg.

Who’s laughing now, eh?