Thursday, October 29, 2009

Misery Loves Company

I rely on iPod Shuffle Karma to tune in to my moods - good and bad - and select the appropriate soundtrack.

You know - when it just seems to know what to choose, so that you nod in approval at each fresh track and never reach for the skip button.

It's particularly important for those times when you're closer to oblivion than Heaven and it's all you can do to keep breathing in and breathing out and get through the days.

I'm no Julie Andrews. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens don't perk me up and I definitely don't punch the air in delight at wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.

I have a theory about misery. If it's there, you should go with it, rather than fight it. The last thing you need is conflict. If you're down, happy music just makes you feel worse, because it's so out of sync with how you feel. Miserable music on the other hand, is the aural equivalent of having your hair softly stroked, your temples massaged and soothing words murmured gently in your ear.

It fits.

So when karma lets me down, I hit the Misery Playlist:

Clash - Bankrobber
Smiths - How Soon Is Now
Beatles - Hey Jude
Cure - In Between Days
Alanis Morissette - Mary Jane
Portishead - Glory Box
Pogues - Rainy Night in Soho
Simon and Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning 3am
Peter Gabriel - In Your Eyes
Space - Money
Joan Osborne - One of Us
James - Laid
Andreas Johnson - Glorious
Muse - Blackout
Stranglers - Midnight Summer Dream
Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

Owen Goal Update:

17 minutes at Anfield - long enough to get booed by the beach balls but not long enough to score. On to Oakwell on Tuesday and an excellent goal but in a mickey mouse cup that barely meets the bet qualifying criterion of being 'competitive'. Way to pick your moment, Michael.

Appearances: 12/15
Minutes Played: 420
Goals: 3
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:140
Goals Per Appearance: 0.25
Projected Season Tally*: 11

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (35 mins), goal frequency (every 140 minutes or 4 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (28 Prem games and c13 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 80%). So 41 games x 80% = 33 appearances. 33/4 = 8 more goals

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dear Fergie

Today I am mostly stiff and sore, but not in a good way.

I spent Saturday in the rain watching JP and Tiddler play football (winning 4-2 and losing 5-1 respectively) and yesterday playing five hours of football to complete my Level 1 FA Coaching Course.

I am a qualified football coach!

Not one for letting the astroturf grow under my feet, I am sending the following to Old Trafford today:

Dear Fergie,

Further to completing my FA Coaching Course I am delighted to enclose my Curriculum Vitae for your attention.

As you can see, I am now ready to fulfil my destiny and step into your size 10s. After yesterday's lack lustre performance you can now retire, safe in the knowledge that your legacy is in good hands.

My grades are excellent.

I would draw your attention in particular to the A* Highly Commended for gum chewing, kicking a water bottle and remonstrating with the Fourth Official, whilst running my hands repeatedly through my hair.

My FA Assessor had the following to say:

'Duck shows a most impressive command of the Anglo-Saxon, although her Govan accent still needs a little work. If she can combine this with her excellent hairdryer-throwing technique, she will have no difficulty in ruling the changing room. I would urge her to embrace the C-word, if she can, as an especially effective way of dealing with BBC commentators and pundits.'

Yours sincerely,


P.S. Can you leave me your watch?

** BTW - today is Picture of a Duck's third birthday - Happy Blogiversary to me! **

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things You Encounter When You Haven't Got Your Gun #7

ITV is showing the Star Wars movies over the coming six weeks.

I rub my hands with glee, and then wonder why - since I own the DVDs and can watch them any time I like (and do).*

But here's the thing. If a movie I like is showing on TV, I have to watch it.

Just because it's on.

Late at night, when I should be piling up the zeds ready for Morningtime, ITV 2 will decide to show The Wedding Singer.

'I'll just watch the first 10 minutes', I tell myself.

97 minutes later, satisfied that nothing has been added or taken away since I last watched it, (which may have only been a fortnight before), I warm my milk and crawl to bed.

Star Wars is scheduled for Saturday afternoons. So no sleep issues.

But they're showing them out of order. Episodes 1-6 instead of episodes 4-6, then episodes 1-3.

'1-6 is chronological, it's sequential. It makes perfect sense.' argues Mills' Mess.

No, No, No, No, No.

You must watch episodes 4-6 first. It's the Law - or should be.

You have to meet Vader before you meet Anakin. You have to finish episode 6 and wonder about the awful chain of events that led him to the Dark Side. The essential tragedy of Vader, which is key to the whole series has to unfold in episodes 1-3, with you absorbing it with the benefit of foresight, (or should that be hindsight?)

And besides, the agony of Vader's terrible revelation to Luke in episode 5 is lost, if you already know.*

Totally out of order.

* As an aside, does anyone else use the Force to open automatic doors, or just me? I started doing it to impress the Little Ducks when they were very little, but now find myself doing it whether they're with me or not.
** Of course, if you're a young thing and you saw Toy Story 2 before you saw Empire Strikes Back, the whole thing is spoiled anyway.

Owen Goal Update:

19 minutes on astroturf in Moscow and once again, no goal.

Appearances: 10/13
Minutes Played: 338
Goals: 2
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:169
Goals Per Appearance: 0.20
Projected Season Tally*: 8

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (34 mins), goal frequency (every 169 minutes or 5 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (29 Prem games and c14 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 77%). So 43 games x 77% = 32 appearances. 32/5 = 6 more goals

Monday, October 19, 2009

Maximum Break

What's one better than a 147?

Well, this week, a 146.

Mrs. Panther Hunter and I do a regular Tuesday quiz at the Local Pub. We mostly come away with a respectable score, but usually behind either The Burks, The Occasional Table, The Wacky Racers, Us In The Corner et al.

Once, we came away with the last place sweets, but we never, ever get our raffle ticket drawn for the Jackpot Question.

Until this week.

Mrs. Panther Hunter's ticket, #147, is pulled out for the £100 Rollover Jackpot and she elects me to go up to answer the question.

- It is on publishing - the industry in which I work.
- It is about J K Rowling - an author whose works I have read.
- It is an obscure reference to some law suit against some minor publishing house - of which I have never heard.


I retake my seat and apologise to my partner.

The next ticket drawn is #146 - my ticket!

- It is on books - my thing again.
- It is on a book I have read - The Big Sleep
- It is by an author I know - 'Raymond Chandler'.

Mrs. Panther Hunter and I split the £100 and go home happy.

The next day, I get an unexpected £25 cashback cheque for my car insurance. £75 up on the week. We celebrate with new astroturf boots for me, JP and Tiddler.

I also win an eBay auction for a red lace Christmas party frock - for £3.

Tonight we have invested in a lucky dip national lottery ticket..... This time tomorrow, we'll be millionaires.

Owen Goal Update:

With his broken fanny fixed, Sicknote was back on the field for the home game against Bolton and managed 82 minutes without a goal.

Appearances: 9/12
Minutes Played: 319
Goals: 2
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:160
Goals Per Appearance: 0.22
Projected Season Tally*: 9

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (35 mins), goal frequency (every 160 minutes or 4.5 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (29 Prem games and c15 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 75%). So 44 games x 75% = 33 appearances. 33/4.5 = 7 more goals

Friday, October 16, 2009

Can You Hear Me At The Back?

Sometimes I wish I were a Lesbian.

No, not me. Chandler from Friends. Series 1*.

Anyway. He says it in Central Perk - followed up with 'Did I say that out loud?'

Now he did it for comic effect, but I just say things out loud because they're in my head and won't stay there.

Words, like brightly-coloured Spacehoppers, bounce around the chambers lined with grey filing cabinets**, desperate to come out and play.

As you know, I don't restrict this pastime to when I have an audience, and even if I do, most utterances are of the rhetorical kind.

But here's the thing.

Until now, my mutterings have taken the form of monologuing - mostly, but not exclusively, in my own Welsh Lancs. accent.

However, on Wednesday, while driving home alone, I realised I was having a two-way conversation with myself, with both sides being played by me.

And neither side was winning. At one point I found myself pointing repeatedly with one hand and waving dismissively with the other, when I realised I was talking utter drivel. But would I be convinced? No. Total refusal to admit I was wrong, and complete frustration when I couldn't get myself to back down and accept that I was right in the first place.

On days like these I thank God for the hands-free mobile phone kit. I don't actually have one, but I pray that the drivers of the cars behind and in front of me assume I do.

* God how sad is it that I know that?
** full of useless shit, but beautifully catalogued and retrievable in nano-seconds.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Local Pubs for Local People

Our sales manager came over last week before an important strategy conference. So I took him out to the Local Pub for dinner - although it's less of a local these days, following a Greene King refurbishment into an homogenised family restaurant.

After dinner we headed up to another Local Pub, with a rather excellent pool table and juke box, which is our usual Sunday night haunt.

'It's a proper traditional pub', I inform him. 'I think you'll like it'.

We enter, only to be confronted by two drunks at the bar with their trousers round their ankles, demanding that we judge their boxer shorts for funkiness. (Multi-coloured spots won over plain black). They shuffle unsteadily out to their taxi, satisfied.

A three-legged mongrel hobbles around with a sock on its remaining back leg - apparently it's been chewing it. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!

A Samoyed lies in the stairwell - but looks more like a Spring lamb, as all its fur has been shaved off!

Leonard Cohen commits suicide over and over on the juke box.

I check the snug - half-expecting to see the Old Cougars, with their fried fish and double gins.

My guest looks bemused and excuses himself outside with a small cigar. Things improve when he notices a classic, pristine white E-Type Jaguar*, belonging to the Landlord. He has a look inside at the landlord's invitation and comes back in.

'Great pub!' he remarks.

I nod, and thank God for Petrolheads.

*This is my absolute all time favourite car and first on my list when I win Millionaire

Friday, October 09, 2009

That's My Boy

I swear.

A lot.

I make no apology for it. I don't do it in front of the Little Ducks or Mrs Duck Senior and I try to keep it to reasonable levels at work; but apart from that, my speech is peppered with Fucks and Bollocks and Twats*.

I embrace the Anglo-Saxon as an important and useful part of our heritage, but tend to stick to the classics to be honest. The Urban Dictionary is a closed book to me and I am astounded at some of the expressions from everyday life that take on a whole new meaning therein**

JP shies away from it. He even spent the Transformers 2 movie counting the swear tally, while Tiddler just watched the fighty fighty bits open-mouthed.

Tiddler just keeps getting better at it. Normally when you hear kids swearing, it's comical. They can't get it right at that age. They use the wrong one, or put it in the wrong place, or use the wrong tense.

Not Tiddler. When he thinks he's out of earshot, he relishes in bloodys and fucks and hells. Obviously there's trouble if I catch him. Current punishments are confiscations of Go-Gos or Playstation privilege withdrawal.

The trouble is, there's part of me that just wants to give him points for getting it so right. Perhaps it's in the genes.

* But not the C-Word. I just can't bring myself to say it, ever.
** Look up tromboning or bathing the dog. or don't. I'd go with don't.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Morningtime 2009

So we haven't talked about early mornings for a while. 'Are the Little Ducks sleeping till reasonable o'clock these days?' - you ask.

Thank you, but no. They wander into my bedroom, sometime around 6-6.30am - but their established routine of awkward questions has branched out.

Tiddler's had a particularly good week.

Day One: It's still dark outside. He comes in quietly, gets in bed and starts speaking French - specifically counting from 1 to 12. 'We're doing 13-32 next week', he informs me. I'm curious. If you can get to 32, you can pretty much get to 69 - same principles. I don't push it - soixante-neuf is not something I want to hear from Tiddler's mouth at the moment*.

Day Two: I hear a strange noise and open one eye. Tiddler has his face buried in my red bra and is sniffing it. 'Your bra smells really nice', he comments. 'It's Comfort' - I inform him. 'Same as your boxers. Go sniff them'.

Day Three: I am awakened by a flash. Tiddler has my phone and is photographing me asleep in sepia. 'I videoed you asleep as well' - he announces proudly. Then he plays back videos from the Oasis concert. 'How did you get all the pictures and videos back?', I ask him. I had thought they were wiped off by mistake. He shows me and also demonstrates how to zoom in and out for good measure. I resign myself to never getting in touch with my inner geek.

Day Four: Much better. I am awakened by a kiss. Tiddler gets in and snuggles up. I relax.

So JP takes up the baton. 'You can actually rip flesh with your own teeth if you really tried' - he tells us both as he strolls in. 'The Aztecs did it if they didn't have any weapons'.

I reflect on how nice it was to wake up in peace in a hotel last week, as I reach for my dressing gown and go in search of a reviving cup of tea.

*The swearing debate continues with Pink joining Lily Allen as a PottyMouth - more on that another day.

Owen Goal Update

Appearances: 8/11
Minutes Played: 237
Goals: 2
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:119
Goals Per Appearance: 0.25
Projected Season Tally**: 10

** Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (30 mins), goal frequency (every 119 minutes or 4 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (30 Prem games and c15 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 73%). So 45 games x 73% = 33 appearances. 33/4 = 8 more goals**

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Owen Goal

There are some things that shall remain sacred and the allocation of the number 7 shirt at OT to only those special ones worthy of the honour is one of them.

I can just about reconcile myself to the fact that He Who May Not Be Questioned signed the Scouse Dwarf, on the basis that it didn't cost any of our hard-earned Fan Cash, but I just cannot bear to see him sporting 7.

Of course, when HWMNBQ signed Ronaldo and paraded him in the same shirt, there was widespread criticism that an untested young showpony from Portugal should be entrusted with the legacy of Beckham, Cantona, Robson, Coppell, Best et al, but no-one can argue that it was ultimately in safe hands and he proved himself more than worthy.

But Owen - whose pedigree owes more to Darren 'Sicknote' Anderton than to his predecessors in the Sacred Seven - will never reach those heights for United. He can barely reach the physio's table at Carrington.

I think he can score goals, but only if he's fit enough to play and I don't believe he will be - at least not consistently.

So following our Keeganwatch tradition, SkyBet and Lanky Shaq have my roll of tenners on Owen scoring less than 12 competitive goals this season.

Appearances: 8/10
Minutes Played: 237
Goals: 2
Goal Frequency (mins): 1:119
Goals Per Appearance: 0.25
Projected Season Tally*: 11

True to form, he's now out with a groin injury so his possible appearances drops week by week.

I'm quietly confident.

* Calculated as follows: His average playing time per appearance (30 mins), goal frequency (every 119 minutes or 4 games at current minutes per appearance rate), number of possible appearances left (31 Prem games and c15 cup games), and appearance frequency (currently 80%). So 46 games x 80% = 37 appearances. 37/4 = 9 more goals.**

** Maths teacher's daughter. Genes will out!