Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pension Plan

We haven't really spoken about football yet. I'm assuming that if you're interested, you'll read the results in the paper, or watch the games live on Sky, or even go to watch the beautiful game.

It has long been my ambition to play professional football for Manchester United, but apart from an all-too-brief spell in goal for the Watership Down ladies team, the chances of having a peg with my name on in the home changing room at Old Trafford are slim.

My hopes and dreams now therefore rest on JP and Tiddler. Both enjoy sport in general and the lawn sports a variety of mud patches from goal mouths and improvised wickets to run between. JP and Mr Duck confine their golf activities to the Club and the driving range so there are no divots or pitch marks as yet.

Tiddler shows some aptitude for football, so it was with delight and excitement that I took him football training for the first time last Monday at the Church Hall - under fives, bring your own shin pads.

There were 8 tiddlers in total with a coach from a local football club who have, in the past, sent boys up to Blackburn and Manchester City - not the best of credentials, but it'll do.

Imagine my delight when Tiddler turned out to be pretty good - hat trick on his debut and control with both feet (something for the purists). The coach turns out to be excellent and has the same mysterious power of command over Tiddler as Stern Teacher.

Imagine my horror as I caught sight of myself as Pushy Football Mum on the touchline urging him to tackle Tiny Boy with ball. I can't help it. I beamed my way home (that's smiling not Star Trekking) and whooped when he asked if he could go tomorrow.

The vision of the peg in the changing room might be fading, but I'll be checking out the Players' Families area at Old Trafford on Boxing Day to see which seat has the best view.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Knight Bus

After living here for 10 years, an unplanned and unexpected opportunity arose to return home from Manchester on Saturday night on the late bus. Let me issue a health warning here. The late bus bears no resemblance to the gridlock of double deckers prostituting themselves before unsuspecting pedestrians by day in the city centre in what Granada Reports calls 'the bus war'*.

No, this is an entirely different species, sharing its DNA with the wizards' Knight Bus in Harry Potter and Frankenstein's race car in Death Race 2000.

The Senior Ducks were over for the Christmas Classical Spectacular concert at the MEN arena (indoor fireworks, laser light show, communal singing, soldiers and cannon) as our gift to them. Mr Duck Snr. has emphysema and really can't walk any distance, so we elected for public transportation in order to land at the Arena itself and not have to walk from a car park. When the queue for the tram home turned ugly - union jack-waving, geriatric concert-goers, fuelled with Britannia and Jerusalem, squaring up to Metro staff, we decided to get a cab. When we reached the taxi rank, it became clear that others shared the same thought and we could be in for a long wait. Suddenly, we were nearly mown down by a #98 which skidded to a halt at the bus stop in front of us.

In hindsight, this should have sent us scurrying back to the tram platform and the angry mob. But it being late, and the #98 going right past our house, we boarded. At first the driver refused to sell us tickets saying it was too expensive. Mr Duck practically had to stuff used fivers - all two of them, down his shirt to get him to accept us as passengers.

There followed the most extraordinary 25 minute ride, through red lights, over speed humps - at least, I'm hoping it was speed humps, with an occasional emergency stop when someone dared to press the stopping bell. If you bear in mind this journey is normally at least 40 minutes by car, with no passenger stops, you have some idea of the reckless, yet curiously exhilirating trip we had. Mr Duck Snr. sucked on his inhaler and gripped the handrails. Mrs Duck Snr. clutched a Lambert & Butler King Size, ready for lighting on alighting.

"Merry Christmas!" - we wished them, as they departed on Sunday. "Come again, won't you?"

*not to be confused with the Rochdale Coach Battle of '92, or the Wayfarer Warfare of '78.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


It's official. Tiddler is not the only demon in the house.

Lately, of an evening, there have been strange noises emanating from the dining room. Sudden, unexplained loud cracks. We check for shattered lightbulbs, cracked mirrors, Indiana Jones' whip etc. but nothing.

Then on Sunday night, while Mr Duck was ogling a selection of enticing and expensive Srixon drivers* with their come hither graphite shafts and shiny titanium heads on ebay, he stopped in his tracks and advanced on the Basket of Trains, from whence a persistant clicking could be heard.

In my head, the theme from the Twilight Zone began. I mute the TV. Seconds later, in triumph he holds aloft Spencer - the shiny, silver express train that's putting James, Gordon, Percy et al out to grass in ThomastheTankEngineland. Spencer is clicking, but the power switch is in the 'off' position! Mr Duck removes the battery. Spencer continues to click defiantly.....

We bury Spencer in the garden in the dead of night. Does anyone have Yvette Fielding's phone number?

*Golf plays a major part in our lives, mostly in relation to the credit card bills. A curse on the House of Nevada Bob.