Life Is Precious

It seems that almost every day in these times there are reports of somebody being hit by a train, taken from the depths of a river or being talked down from a desperate situation high on a bridge or ledge, considering their mortality. That they cannot go on in this world any longer. I hear many caring people comment about the subject of how people are suffering, I hear their feelings of futility, their inability to bring about change.

hands reaching for each other
(Image: American Psychological Association)

In reality, very little changes though, numbers of deaths rise, ‘mental health’ is brought up over and over and yet funds to assist people with these problems are in real terms, wholly inadequate and for me, will no doubt likely remain so.

I lost a partner to suicide (I am a ‘suicide survivor’ as it is termed). Let me tell you, it hurts like hell. It hurts in the most confusing, inconsolable and desperate ways that you could imagine. It makes you want to die too.

I had family and friends who rallied around me. I had kind and understanding people in my workplace at the time whose contribution to helping me keep going will never be forgotten. All of these people kept me alive, along with a determined cussedness that it just wasn’t my time yet.

Keep an eye on your loved ones, your friends and your work colleagues. Seek advice if you need it in order to help them. You can even talk to me if you need help.

My thoughts go to the gentleman in the story and his loved ones, to all in these endless similar reports I read too. Look after each other, show your love, show that you care.

College lecturer who died after being hit by a train is named

A Pfizer Vaccine

I had my first vaccination dose today at Nottingham’s Queens Medical Centre as a health and social care worker. Extremely well organised by cheery and excellent staff from beginning to end. It was the Pfizer version.

May be an image of text that says "I'VE HAD MY COVID VACCINA VACCINATIO"

Ushered in, given a surgical mask to replace my own face covering.

Joined a ten-minute socially-distanced queue obeying a marked out floor.

First desk took my NHS number and evidence of status.

Second desk, a health professional asked a few rudimentary health questions.

Directed straight in for the jag. Very quick and painless.

Next desk to make second appointment in 12 weeks.Asked to sit in a waiting area for five minutes and time myself before letting myself out.

Arrived home and no reaction at all (as yet) after six hours.

I’ve not been out of the house nor spoken to anyone much face to face in a good while due to working from home and I was beginning to feel slightly threadbare. Therefore, it felt inspiring and galvanising, stepping out in the world a little once more and seeing the faces and the positive, cheerful and indomitable attitude of the NHS staff in the vaccination unit.

I thanked each one profusely. You are all greatly appreciated. Thank you so much

Snowy Hucknall, Nottinghamshire

My mother’s home town, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, pictured 24th January 2021, blessed and adorned with a delicate sprinkling of snow.

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor and nature
(Image: Paul Atherley)

A proudly down-to-earth former mining town which boasted two pits and Rolls-Royce as major employers. Hucknall lies approximately seven miles north north-west of Nottingham and was the kind of unsung town that kept the country’s lights burning through the hard graft of its people.

Hucknall Aerodrome, which used to host a memorable was an RAF base which featured in WW11 and hosted the legendary story of Luftwaffe pilot Franz von Werra ‘The One That Got Away’. In later years the aerodrome was a test establishment for the first vertical take-off aircraft, ‘The Flying Bedstead’.

The town has much expanded over more recent years due partly to it’s rail and tram links and near proximity to the M1 Motorway. The conurbation is surrounded by pretty countryside and cheek-by-jowell with the attractive small villages of Linby and Papplewick, both of which have an illustrious yet sometimes harsh history due to their former industrial histories which saw many children put to work there in the mills. History that lessons were learnt from.

The picture shows St Mary Magdalene Parish Church which was my mother’s family church, looking over the town’s market place. Inside, interred in the family vault, the great and world famous romantic poet, Lord George Gordon Byron’s body is laid to rest. The town was greatly loved by my mother and Lord Byron revered.

A humble yet special little town.

Banana Republic – Sceptic Isle

We live in a country where you can break your foot and be left to lie helpless and shivering, on a cold pavement for six hours then die there before an ambulance can attend you.

(Image: ITC.com)

One where 700 people have dialled 999 for emergency assistance and there are no ambulances available to help them.

There is a pandemic, we understand the pressures of that, we also understand it’s in a global form and yet similar reports from other countries are not prevalent.

Don’t be palmed off with this as an excuse for this serious risk placed on your lives. This government does not have the mental capacity nor the political ability to govern in such frightening and fearful times. They too, have a distinct lack of will or caring about the population’s welfare and well-being, as we are so starkly seeing.

I think ’21 is Going To Be A Good Year

IN 1921 our planet had just lived through World War One (1914-1918) with a resultant more than twenty million lives being lost. The worldwide Spanish Flu (1918-1920) had also had seen a further fifty million people perish.

The Who – ‘1921’

The great relief felt around the world led to what came to be called ‘The Roaring Twenties’ a decade of great economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by recovery from the devastation of war, deferred spending and a construction industry boom. In addition, there was rapid growth of consumer goods in Europe, North America and other developed countries.

As people now turn their thoughts to 2021, we may indeed consider some of Townshend’s lyrics, written for his 1969 rock opus ‘Tommy’ as highly relevant today.

Happy New Year.

Happy New Year, Grace Marian and John

Happy New Year, Grace Marian and John.

Thinking of you at Hogmanay and every day, mum and dad. It feels like forever since we hugged and kissed at New Year. One day we will be together again.

Whatever I am, you made me and gave me the determination and strength to carry on when life was ebbing. Thank you. Love you.

Stuart

Shopping In Safety

I’ve been reading of a few peoples’ negative experiences of shopping in supermarkets and am genuinely curious to understand why some people who feel the need to persist with it, given the dangers from poor behaviour in those environments.

(Image: Aleš Čerin)

The current time, I feel, is very reminiscent of how things felt back in late March and April, quite threatening. At that time I decided to move online for my food shopping. This was prompted by a couple of necessary Sainsbury’s visits that felt distinctly uncomfortable. It wasn’t the queueing to get in, it was the ridiculous behaviour of people in the store – remember this too was pre-masking wearing for most people.

Even then, when it felt a little scary and unpredictable, people were pushing past and reaching over each other and hardly anyone was observing social distancing. it was like a group social at times with assemblies of people stopping for a chat and blocking aisles, people were visiting in family groups, handling goods and putting them back. Queues for the checkout were a joke, also with no soial distancing.

I felt very insecure and actually couldn’t wait to get home.

Since that time, I haven’t needed to go to any supermarket and it’s been online all the way for nine months now. At times it hasn’t been easy to find a delivery slot, especially in the early days and pre-Christmas but I set to understanding how best to do it.

Warehouses are being opened by supermarkets now which are not open to the public and specifically for pickers to prepare your order. That’s also potentially a few less pairs of mitts on your groceries.

For those who have concerns as i do, i would urge you to give it a shot. I will not be going back to going in supermarkets any time soon, or at all.

A few pointers from my own experiences:

Open accounts in all the supermarkets accessible to you

Log on each day and spend a few minutes locating a slot

Be prepared to have a delivery at an unsociable hour, these are cheaper or free and more readily available

Think ahead and have two or three deliveries on the go at a time, update the contents/delivery date as you get nearer the time

The last slot of the day (22.00-23.00) is sometimes free will often come much earlier if you’re home when they call.

It gets easier and quicker, Favourites folders will show all the regular things you tend to buy.

You can see exactly how much you’re spending

You can quickly see what the current offers are.

If you agree to sustitutions and they’re more expensive supermarkets will give you a refund. If you don’t want the replacements simply hand them back to the delivery person.

December 2020: Out Of Control

We’re now at unprecedented levels of infection in England and awaiting possibly similar results from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Increased hospital admissions leave healthcare in a very vulnerable position.

Compliance is arguably as poor as it’s been and worsening. Too many are shunning personal responsibility.

The government is consistently reactive and behind the curve, in spite of their protestations to the contrary. There appears no real plan. There is however constant confusion.

I feel that a complete lockdown in all four home countries is what is required. I believe that Sage are now recommending children don’t go back to school and agree with that. Nor should students going back on campus happen. In practice, a real lockdown where people can at least make plans on how to cope. Of course, this has to be supported financially to avoid the public and business suffering further.

Vaccinations are progressing now and when completed vaccinations are at a favourable level, lockdown restrictions should only then change. These are the first stages of an endgame. We have been chasing after this virus throughout, not doing enough, swiftly enough. There has been one false start after another which has especially, hugely impacted on businesses with wasted stock, and investment in safety procedures for little recompense.

People are absolutely sick and tired of regulations changing seemingly every few days. Many have given up even trying to understand them. Many more fail to take them seriously.

What was actually required at the beginning of this emergency was co-operation by way of a political coalition. Party politics have been an obstacle.

There is still time to pull this situation around, we have blue sky visible in the distance. We need a real plan and that should encapsulate restrictions to get us through to when vaccinations tip the balance. It is going to take courage and selflessness from politicians and the public. Firm discipline too, enforced if necessary.

Appreciate there might be few that agree with these ideas but that would be my current assessment.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding Through The Glen

A little like Dennis ‘Terry McCann’ Waterman, I do love a good theme toon. So much in fact I’ve a whole playlist of them on Spotify with many favourites. This one I like as much as any other I guess is the theme of ‘The Adventures Of Robin Hood’, you know, the one with Richard Greene ably playing Nottingham’s infamous outlaw.

I’m pretty certain that Robin really looked quite a bit like Errol Flynn I reckon, however, Richard’s version was a nice, wholesome character who I’d run all the way home from school every Friday as soon as that bell rang to see him and his merry men foil the Sheriff yet again. It was like shelling peas.

Junior school pencils, pens and ruler all neatly stashed away, ‘marble machine’ inside the school desk duly disabled for the weekend, to be reconstructed on Monday morning.The next stage was seeing who could stand the most still in order to receive the welcome nod from the teacher to leave for two whole days’ freedom. In my case back to Redhill at warp speed as I didn’t want to miss a single second of what the heck was going on in Sherwood Forest that week.

I read somewhere that there were over 140 episodes of The Adventures of Robin Hood which surprised me a little, I’m not sure why. I’d been practising the sound of Robin’s ‘arrer sinking into that great oak tree boooiinnnggg! All week by trapping that 12” wooden ruler in the school desk lid. I particularly wanted the Sheriff to catch another ‘arrer straight through his ‘at.

Of course then there were the days at the City Ground, being swept over Trent Bridge by a family member, seemingly always in a keen, swirling permanently February wind. In the bustling crowd, the moment would arrive and then the clarion call to all Nottinghamians everywhere around the world sounded, the sounds thadduck, boooinngg, ‘Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen’ ringing out. My hero, Joe-Joe-Joe Baker would then sprint out with the lads and I’d almost faint with excitement at seeing ‘Zigger-Zagger’. He’s been gone a good while now but I still worship him.

They were happy and innocent days and this jaunty little theme tune brings back many a cherished memory to me. Play it, go on – you know you want to!

‘Oh To Be In England Now That April’s There’

A recent survey suggested that seventy-two per cent of respondents believed that ‘pubs are important places for lonely people over the festive period to come together with their community.’

Nottingham is now in Tier 3. My own Christmas will consist of being at home alone every single day. I don’t like this at all but I’m not worried for myself, I know I have the strength to cope. I really fear for those that don’t though and what’s more they are numerous and growing in number.

Image: National Trust

So much for looking after people’s mental health. So much for ‘It’s okay not to be okay’. There is a real lack of caring, despite fine words to the contrary.

Johnson has said he is confident the situation will have improved by the spring.

‘I am convinced that by April things will be much, much better,” he told a Downing Street news conference.

Ah, that’s alright then. Just the four months of isolation, not being able to see your elderly or sick relatives, people’s mental health rapidly deteriorating, sometimes to the point of suicide and the consequential suffering of their loved ones.

Four months of hundreds of thousands of ordinary working people losing their livelihoods, the political sacrifice of their jobs, their constant anxieties around this both before and after, bills not being paid, struggling to put food on the table, relationships breaking and fractured families.

Seeing no future.

It is all so incredibly sad, and unnecessary.

Don’t worry yourself though, it will all be ‘much, much better’ in April.

A Christmas Fair?

A Christmas Fair is a mass gathering is it not?

In Nottingham’s case it’s also a bunch of wooden sheds converted from their summer ‘beach hut’ guise with some spray-on snow from Wilkos.

It’s about ripping off people with ever more difficult financial situations because they are in sore need of a little Christmas (or any other) cheer. A fiver for a hot dog anyone? Seven pounds for a glass of mulled wine? It’s about selling junk food and goods at extortionate prices.

The Winter Wonderland in the Nottingham Old Market Square

Outdoor skating, cancelled at Nottingham’s Winter Wonderland for 2020. (Image Nottingham Post)

It’s also about James Mellors Entertainments being in bed with Nottingham City Council and lining that business’s own pockets with low-brow cheap-ass ‘entertainment’ every time you open your eyes in this city. Controlling the public’s Old Market Square and anywhere else they can get their clutches into.

Meanwhile, during this pandemic, decent business such local pubs and restaurants that the community like to gather in have the shutters up and are being sold down the river, possibly into oblivion.T

This fair has nothing to do with Christmas or its spirit and it should especially not be happening this December.

The Tiers Of A Clown

A reported further 1,024 cases in 24hrs in Nottingham yesterday. Numbers further afield into the suburbs and wider county have taken an alarming jump also.

(Image: Nottingham Post)

I made a (probably final) visit to my ‘local’ in the city last night under Tier 2 restrictions which include no mixing with other households. The manager expressed that he would now prefer to close up completely and that to continue staffing the pub, even with just a single person didn’t make sense. There had been very few customers in the two days since new restrictions.

The experience? Well I sat listening to the Down The Slope Hibs podcast featuring an interview with Super Joe Tortalano, on my bluetooth earbuds, sipping pints of Bitbuger. Pleasant enough, but I can do that at home. In fact the pub that I know which is invariably lively with an interesting mix of folk felt more like Seafield Crematorium.

Streets and businesses in the city and local towns have all but emptied it appears. A popular public opinion is to impose a ‘complete’ lockdown. It feels very much like March again here. That’s me done, I’ll be imposing a self-lockdown – for the winter if necessary. Grim maybe, but it might be as well to find acceptance of this now.

University Challenge

(Image: Jem UoN Blogs)

A few figures surrounding the city’s university population as we wait for our fate regarding lockdown today.

University of Nottingham
Students: 35,000
Staff: 10,000
Active confirmed cases (students): 1,510
Comprising:
Students in private accom: 677
Students in university halls: 523
Students in purpose-built accom: 310
Increase in infected students in last 7 days: 1,085
Active confirmed cases (staff) 20

Nottingham Trent University also has over 33,000 students but has declined to publish figures for infection rate among student/staff. (There are no prizes for guessing why.) The above figures can therefore most likely be doubled.

In addition:
City tops the UK for new infections
Median age of people with Covid-19 (city): 21
7-day rolling rate of new infections at Sept 4th (city): 71
7-day rolling rate of new infections at Oct 8th (city): 830

I’ve no wish to vilify students – quite the contrary and I feel they’ve been badly treated – but whilst local authorities and the government continue to ignore these types of stats, closing hospitality, shops and their attendant services is never going to make sense to the public. They’re clearly not the only reason for the dramatic increase in infections in this city but at the beginning of Sept the city’s figures were some of the lowest in the UK. It’s now at the paramount for infections since the large student population returned.

Lockdown Two?

SEPTEMBER 11TH 2020 and here we are, awaiting our cue from Westminster in the morning. Doubtless this will mean more severe restrictions to a wide range of the public. One wonders about compliance in these days.

The amount of people who don’t appear to be subscribing to social distancing, mask wearing and so on is widespread and rife. I stepepd off a bus in a quieter part of the city last night at 7pm and was immediately confronted by scene with 15-20 older teens huddled up together in a tight group. Not a single mask between them. This is not unusual in my experience. It’s like those people are completely oblivious to the situation or think it doesn’t affect them in any way and is not relevant to them. It’s by no mean exclusive to that particular age group either.

Three young females, students judging by their conversation, were walking around the pub with no masks on. All got up to visit the bathroom at the same time…and took their drinks with them, almost unbelievably.

I anvassed a group of friends in the pub about the idea of forming a support bubble between two of our households. Not one person was aware of how they worked. Nor were they interested.

My bus service is pretty decent regards people following safety procedures. It helps that it travels to a rarer route and so has few passengers on these shorter eenings for hispitality. However, a passing tram was rammed to the rafters with students without a mask between them again. The University tram stop was also packed with those waiting for another service.

Probably like many, I feel tired and disheartened with the situation. I personally went through 5-6 months of working from home, living alone whilst barely seeing a single person. Doing my bit like so many others and now here we are again, facing a potential full lockdown in essence. The days are becoming colder and the nights longer without even a few warm summer days to cheers us. The government simply have little idea what to do, they missed their big chance earlier in the year. I don’t even have the energy to be angry at the significant amount of people ignoring the rules. Those without a single care for the health and lives for others. I have no idea of the way out of this but I’m certain that their way isn’t the correct one.

Tipping Point

THE BELOW was written prior to the storm now blowing through about students being confined to their rooms in thir residences – a truly shocking development I consider. The Government’s Test And Trace system has also now staggered into life, albeit with attendant problems.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 119935783_10164470290275045_3969088137622922631_n.jpg

I’ve maintained for some time that there will be a ‘full lockdown’. It will be dressed up as something other than that, something with a snazzy new name, say, a ‘circuit breaker’, combined with a spiffing new world-beating three-word slogan to accompany it. (It’s understood by the Government that the public cannot take on information without it written in three parts on a lecturn).

The two-week period variously mooted really doesn’t mean too much. When the two weeks are drawing in another two weeks will be announced – after first being leaked out to break it a little more gently of course – and so forth. They did this in one-month periods on the first lockdown with people becoming increasingly upset each time it occurred. A point about locking down in any form might be to provide breathing space to get the crucial track, trace and isolate sytem going. The problem is the government have had six months to come up with this majorly important tool but decided to give the job to mates and ignore those digitally illiterate Luddites, Apple and Google. Actually criminally negligent.

I know that there are great difficulties and I have much sympathy with parents but for me the children should not have returned to school just yet. Teaching should have been rolled out 100% digitally with various support given to parents to facilitate it, along with a suspension of school term(s) or even a full academic year if necessary.

Similar for the students in higher education. Teaching should be conducted 100% digitally for now. This would have been preferable for the students who now, as well illustrated by recent reports, face a potentially fairly miserable and restricted experience at university. It could also cost many of them a great deal of money being tied into accommodation for an academic year that has arguably only a thin chance of being actually delivered face-to-face. More money needs to be found (but won’t be) to support not only furloughed workers and parents but also the businesses that are nearly on the brink of extinction.

It’s a question of priorities, the UK government can find outlandish sums for Trident (£200b), for bailing out banks (£500b) and so on. Those issues have their own arguments but it illustrates that money is always found when deemed ‘necessary’. It will allow the country’s citizens to suffer though, to lose their jobs, to go without food and lose their homes. To see people experiencing great mental health difficulties to the point of suicide. To witness the significant growth in domestic abuse.

Yes me too, I’m glad I don’t have to now make the decisions on the way forward in this dire situation. One thing for sure though is that if the UK government hadn’t made consistent and continual mistakes – sometimes almost wilfully – throughout, those decisions wouldn’t now have been so difficult or acute. A problem is that apart from not appearing to care all that much they’re really not all that bright. They simply lack the ability, thinking and industry to deal with the huge problems facing the UK.

It’s 10pm And All Is Not Well

I’M SURE the thinking that some people become increasingly drunk later in the evening and less observent of social distancing measures is a logical and reasonable point. However, significantly, it’s a moveable feast.

I wouldn’t particularly argue one way or the other regarding closing times in pubs in particular but certainly, someone who wants to get innebriated won’t allow an early closing time in public houses to change that. They’ll go out earlier, go on to homes afterwards, drink stronger drinks or drink them faster to achieve the same effect.

These things are indicated to me through treating drink dependent people for a good while. A top down, directive approach rarely works that well in these things beyond a certain point. Far better that people become educated and actually want to exhibit these behaviours without being ‘forced’ or ‘blocked’ into doing so.

There are strong suggestions from scientists and health experts that the Government have not consulted with them regarding the likely benefits or otherwise of adopting this latest policy. So much for ‘following the science’.

Unfortunately, many of the general public have stopped listening to or wanting to acquiesce to the UK government’s constantly changing instructions. They have no faith in them, nor do many trust them due to their incompetence, weekly u-turns and abject failure as much as anything else.

The genie is already out of the bottle I’m afraid.

Good Luck, Magpies

BEST WISHES to Notts County in their Play-Off Final against Harrogate at Wembley Stadium today. Just one year ago, this club looked like it was about to become history. Huge tax bills, a winding up order, staff not paid in two months and a transfer embargo in place. Asset strippers were circling. Less than a week before the first game of the season Notts had just a handful of players and had to bring in around thirteen bodies in order to field some kind of team.

Image may contain: text that says "NOTTS COUNTY"

Today, after surviving these times, the hard-working players, their excellent manager, Neal Ardley and the modest and skilled young club owners, Danish brothers Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz, the club has an opportunity to return to the Football League at the first opportunity. Whatever should happen during the ninety minutes, the past year has been one of stability and growth for the old club

Good luck Notts,

In Nature’s Lap, We May Relax

Again. I read reports of huge queues outside my local Sainsbury’s supermarket with attendant forty-minute waits to enter the store. It’s been a pattern, particularly at the weekend recently, to the point that the car park entrance has been closed off and bottles of water being handed out to the long line of people standing outside the store in the hot sun.

gigi

Meanwhile, I’m sat in the garden with my cat buddy by my side, sipping a cup of Italian coffee and listening to some vintage songs on the radio, relaxing after a busy working week. I’m taking in the scent of sweet honeysuckle, something I look forward to each summer. A breeze gently rustles fresh green foliage on the trees. It is an idyllic situation in a most simple and fundamental way.

Technology! I have an online Sainsbury’s grocery order with a helpful supermarket ‘colleague’ placing two weeks’ worth of food and drink on my doorstep this evening at 8pm for which I’m grateful.. It takes me all of five minutes to store if I’m dawdling. I now fail to understand the allure and attraction of spending precious time queuing to enter a supermarket, on a beautiful day especially. Of course, doing so also owns its anxieties too at the current time as many people have expressed.

I will not be heading back to trudging around supermarkets in the future, social distancing present or not. Experiencing change via a lengthy lockdown has finally allowed me to see the light on this little chore, quite literally.

Epitaph On My Ever Honoured Father

O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev’rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband’s dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen’rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that fear’d no human pride;
The friend of man-to vice alone a foe;
For “ev’n his failings lean’d to virtue’s side.”

Robert Burns

John Archibald Frew 1921-1984 b. Musselburgh, Scotland

Nottingham: Garden City?

The city of Nottingham presently has something of a disaster on its hands to deal with. As Property Consultant, Tim Garratt says. we are in ‘car-crash territory’ with the conundrum over Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, the major southern gateway into the city.

broad

(Image: Nottingham Post)

Currently half-demolished with water probably pouring into it and an owner, INTU who are billions of pounds in debt and seemingly financially unable to give the developers the go-ahead to resume work. Probably ever.

I’ll leave others to discuss who’s fault this all is but it brings up interesting thoughts of how modern city centres might look in the future.

It’s not quite as simple as this now things have progressed/regressed but for many years I’ve always believed this very central site should be utilised for outdoor use, an attractive park, performance areas, markets, fairs, events and so on. Retail is dying and the Coronavirus outbreak has brought forward change in a few important aspects of daily life a few years it might be argued. One of those is less use of our cities for shopping purposes due to online shopping.

Major developments in this city have often been linked to student accommodation, another bubble that might conceivably burst due to the effects of the virus as universities take a significant step forwards online learning meaning less demand for local accommodation. This might well be quite disastrous for Nottingham as it has continually geared up for increasing demand to the detriment of a great deal of anything else..

So what are we left with, apart from a few more hardy larger retail businesses (who are also these days under threat) In addition, an over proliferation of restaurants of a similar type and quality which come and swiftly go and fashionable modern, expensive themed bars which rarely show any kind of longevity of lifespan?

Some rather more abstract thinking is now required for the future health of our cities. I hope that Nottingham can possibly, even under duress, be one of the cities that grasps new opportunity and change.

Mr Fox

I often think that in a presently mad world, full of angry people, nature and animals often seem to make more sense than most things.

I feel most fortunate that although living in a suburb, my situation is cheek by jowl with open agricultural land and hundreds of acres of pretty woodland which would undoubtedly have formed a part of old Sherwood Forest in times past

The benefits of working from home. This week has had a couple of afternoons with a fox spending most of the afternoon in my garden. Sitting a few feet from my window it’s a major and happy distraction from work. It’s been rainy here like most places, making for longer uncut grass in the back garden. A glimpse through the window offers a pair of foxy ears poking out of the grass. Almost comically so.

I understand that foxes and cats – unlike foxes and dogs, tend to leave each other alone and pretty well tolerate each other without any great angst. My lad, Gigi, was straight out there though, ears pricked up, searching through the undergrowth for our visitor. To no avail.

It’s like a beautiful, fascinating little soap opera playing out in front of one’s eyes and it certainly beats sitting in an office in the city – hands down.

Ten Weeks of Quarantine

Almost ten weeks for me of living a most solitary life at home. Providing telephone counselling for my clients being the main contact with the outside world.

Image may contain: cat
It’s okay, I remain strong and resilient and will indefinitely but of course, sometimes the time can drag, there’s a hint of monotony and it can be a little lonely… And then this lad steps in on a Saturday night (and every night) while I’m having a quiet evening alone and comes to me

Gigi has been a faithful friend throughout. I’m certain he can sense my need in that strange spiritual ways that animals often seem to be able to. When people don’t call and the texts and emails fall silent, he’s always there. Cuddled up tight on my lap and showing affection. He makes sense of many things. I do love him.

The Greatest Virus Pit In Europe

Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t live on a small island. Less than six per cent of our land mass is built on. An issue is rather density of population, and we’re not even the highest in Europe for that.

image

(Image: James Mylne/PA)

The real issues are that the UK didn’t lockdown that population effectively and clearly, didn’t do it remotely quickly enough, that we lacked testing, a tracking and a tracing ability, The mixed messages sent out for the entirely of the outbreak are UK Conservative government decisions.

These are the real reasons the country has ended up with approximately 36,000 of our loved ones dead according to latest data. Some estimates put the figures as high as 53,000. Another is the highly infectious disease which the government under-estimated. Headed by another virus, our ridiculous cavalier Prime Minister, Johnson.

It’s no surprise that people seem not to understand the lockdown rules, let alone the section of people who seek constantly to find loopholes. The government’s communication strategy appears to consist mainly of anonymous leaks to the media, which are then reported and subsequently partially denied. Witness the drip-drip of information this week.

The government are totally directionless at this point. Prime Minister Johnson, who previously couldn’t manage to stay out of the media has become a recluse in hiding with the politicians appointed to speak in his absence appearing to know next to nothing. The UK is constantly missing targets for testing – even with transparently artificially massaged figures, it is ill equipped with PPE which NHS employers are gagged from talking about and has refused technology from established industry leaders in favour of providing a ‘nice little earner’ for a track and trace app being created by a crony of the detestable Dominic Cummings. Would you really trust that? I’m struggling.

The UK now has the appalling record for second most Covid-19 deaths in the world after the USA. This government did NOTHING as it watched the experiences of other European countries ahead of us in this pandemic and an opportunity to learn.

I can’t imagine many other countries will want to accept people from the UK in the future which will hopefully satisfy the Brexit brain-dead at least. They can stay at home resplendent in their blissful ignorance.

The UK is proudly now the greatest virus pit in Europe.

Good Friday

~

Love Hurts

~

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us
hast willed to be crucified
and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood
for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together
in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death,
fully trusting in Thy mercy;
cleanse us from sin by Thy grace,
sanctify our toil,
give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our
daily bread,
sweeten our sufferings,
bless our families,
and to the nations so sorely afflicted,
grant Thy peace,
which is the only true peace,
so that by obeying Thy commandments
we may come at last to the glory of heaven.
Amen.

~

The Peregrine Falcons of Nottingham

Life and nature goes on, although for some it must feel as though it has ground to a halt. The peregrine falcons are back nesting in Nottingham city centre, perched many storeys up on a ledge of Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building, as they do each Spring. A welcome sight for all and this year, a small reminder that the world keeps spinning and the seasons continue to evolve.

falcon

A Peregrine Falcon in its characteristic missile-like dive

Peregrines are possibly my favourite creatures with their staggering speed in a dive for prey. Some claim this to be recorded at 160mph, other claims even reach to 200mph. Whatever the truth, they are truly magnificent. I hope they are enjoying the relative peace of the city centre in the year of 2020.

Watch them live.

https://www.nottinghamshirewildlife.org/peregrine-cam

A Night In…

It’s early days to be fair but television’s response to people having to stay home has been pretty lukewarm in my view. Reading of plans to bring extra entertainment to Saturday night vewing saw the BBC that they were going to announce repeats of ‘Gavin & Stacy’.

Really? Is that typical of the BBC’s conception of adding extra pizzazz to our screens?

teevee

Another example is that of ‘Match of the Day’ being replaced by ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys Live’. I’m no fan of the former with it’s dreary presenters but what kind of insane decision is it to replace it with that absolute garbage, ‘jokes’ out of a Christmas cracker and all. I appreciate they’ve had to have second thoughts since the outcry.

Perhaps the TV companies have decided that we are a captive audience and that they don’t really need to try to schedule decent quality viewing for that reason. If so, they really are not helping in a difficult situation.

John Archibald Frew 1921-1984

My dad, John Archibald Frew, of Musselburgh, East Lothian, Scotland suddenly died thirty-six years ago this day, just after midnight on January 1st, 1984, shockingly, shortly after I’d celebrated the bells with him.

Consequently, this time of year is never easy – even after all these years. In those early years afterwards it haunted me, especially at Hogmanay, a time when I would be sure to travel to Edinburgh each year, to be under the stars on the High Street at the Tron Kirk with thousands of others,purely to escape the suffocating sense of his loss and to feel closer to him.

Jock

There’s never a day that passes that I don’t think of him, all he imparted to me, the lessons he taught me. I can hear the soft tones of his voice any time I care to listen in my mind. John was the product of a very hard background. The grinding poverty of the 1920s and 1930s meant that he often went without shoes on his feet as a boy. His upbringing helped toughen him as hard as teak for the trials he would go through subsequently in his adult life. Let it not be ignored though that he could show rare wisdom and at times be a very funny man indeed.

He strived for a living in the mines of Scotland as a young boy of fourteen years, working all day long partly immersed in the water of ‘wet pits’. Following that, he worked at the naval base in Scapa Flow, Old Norse meaning, ‘bay of the long isthmus’ on the remote, Scottish Island of Orkney, then travelled the world many a time as a proud Merchant Seaman. The German U-Boats tried their utmost but couldn’t kill him off in the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

In current times, he would have been so proud, I know, to think that Scotland, the country he loved so much, could have the opportunity to stand alone and manage its own affairs.

My dad was my rock and his memory remains that to this day. I owe him much.

Fond memories. John Archibald Frew 1921-1984 ‘Life’s work well done’.

Frostnip in Banff, Canada

FROSTNIP IS THE COMMON TERM for first-degree frostbite. It’s characterised by one’s skin turning pale or blue and feeling cold to the touch. If one stays out in the cold with these symptoms the skin may begin to feel cold to the touch and to tingle. The tingling can turn into quite severe pain and needs some simple first-aid. That first-aid generally means getting out of the cold and rewarming the affected areas. Failure to do this can result in moving through further stages of frostbite occasioning very serious tissue damage with consequential grave results.

It was on a frigid late December afternoon that I took to one of the outdoor skating rinks of the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta for a skating session. The rink was deserted apart from myself and whilst very cold indeed, was welcoming under the fairy lights and seasonal music emanating from an outdoor sound system.

Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta, Canada

image

It was quite heavenly, the cold air icily refreshing my face as I traversed the wide open spaces of the rink, accompanied only by the familiar sound of my skate blades cutting sharply and crisply into the ice as I turned this way and that.

What could possibly go wrong?

Outside the skate-changing shack next to the ice was a handily-placed thermometer which I glanced at a couple of times when passing. The temperature, already very cold, was dropping slowly. I was warm though, with a fleecy top, ski pants and gloves and working up a head of steam on the ice.

Moraine Lake, Banff, Alberta Canada

Crystal Ski Resort, Alberta, Canada

I finally ended the session in the darkness, apart from the pretty lights of the rink and glided slowly to a halt at the shack, sat and began to remove my skates to change to shoes and take the short walk by the picturesque Bow River. Back to the warmth and a hot drink in the plush hotel.

As anyone who skates will identify, it takes but a few minutes to complete this procedure and I sat for a few moments afterwards admiring the wonderful and peaceful scene in front of me. I noted the outdoor thermometer registering at –28C.

It was only then that I began to feel the tingling in my fingers, moving into my hands. My first experience of frostnip. Walking ever more rapidly back to the hotel, the pain actually began to feel quite intense, in fact it was very painful indeed. I’d had my hands out of the ski gloves for only a few brief minutes but it was long enough.

Breaking into a run back to the hotel room and slightly confused by the sudden pain after feeling relatively comfortable, my partner of that time, a Canadian native quickly ran the hot taps in the bathroom and stuck my aching hands underneath them. There I stayed for the next thirty minutes until the pain began to subside.

Two pairs of gloves were in evidence for the next outdoor skating session, that time on an amazing frozen lake.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 7.12.19

A winter-sun December Saturday it is and it comes as a relief in case the atmosphere inside Meadow Lane this afternoon becomes decidedly frosty. I’ll be meandering through the city for Notts County’s 3pm kick-off versus Sutton United in the Vanerama League. Heady days.

training

The Magpies have been experiencing a fairly torrid time of late after an excellent run of nineteen games in which they lost only three. Things have slightly nose-dived since however with Notts drifting out into a mid-table berth. It’s all very disappointing for the team’s faithful and appears to be pointing very much towards another season of non-league football for the club unless there is an immediate and dramatic upturn in fortunes.

The city and its roads will no doubt be overcrowded today, exacerbated by Christmas shoppers, thousands of students and the (I have to say) pretty naff Christmas Fair in the Old Market Square, set to fleece visitors or their hard-earned.

Back in the heartland, Hibs take on the tough challenge of the Dandy Dons of Aberdeen. It would be good to think that Aberdeen will turn up with less of a cynical attitude than on various other visits in the past few seasons. Hibs manager, Jack Ross has the task of lifting the team after a disappointing road trip to Dingwall midweek with a 2-1 capitulation. Seeing Hibs yet again give up a lead is not edifying at the moment and questions are being asked.

These questions are invariably concerning the Hibs defence which is achieving sieve-like qualities recently. There is a major problem at Easter Road in this area of the team with several key players aging at the same time. Great and good servants such as David Gray, Lewis Stevenson, Paul Hanlon and a soon-returning Darren McGregor have for some time been needing replacements coming through but Porteous aside, there has been little by way of that. Anyhow, thinking of you, Hibees from my spot at a game here.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 16.11.19

It’s international break weekend (boo) so just the one fixture under scrutiny today, Notts County v Barrow. I’ll meander along to Meadow Lane via a quick watering hole stop to witness any damage or otherwise. Two days ago it was looking like this might be a boat trip with part of Nottingham under water. Today presents two teams in fine form, the Magpies having lost only three in the past nineteen games and Barrow having won a tremendous nine out of ten previous away games It’s fair to say that it’s anyone’s game today and the team that comes out of the traps in the best fettle will prevail. Arguably rare at this level too, both teams are renowned for trying to play good football and a passing game so it should be a reasonable spectacle which always makes the afternoon more agreeable along with the Scotch Pie and Bovril.

(Image: Economist)

North of the border and Hibs, well it’s all been happening, apart from a blank football Saturday. New manager, Jack Ross, safely installed, we can only hope for a little stability returning to Easter Road after a slightly disastrous first part of the season. It’s almost been laughable seeing some of the comment about him before barely setting foot in Leith. I sometimes wonder what drives this kind of attitude of sky-high expectation, albeit the Hibs support certainly deserves a little bit more success over the piece one could argue. Safe to say, apart from Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klop, any candidate is going to get trashed by one section of Hibs fans or another. Good luck Jack Ross, I still believe Hibernian is a fine club, well run and with some potential. You’re going to need some good fortune though.

South Africa – World Champions 2019!

CONGRATULATIONS THE RAINBOW NATION!

You were absolutely awesome today and played like men, with heroism, skill and determination. You brought pride to your nation.

flag

The South Africans were not in the slightest scared by England’s bull and over-confidence

The following was sent to me by a South African pal before the game:

‘One of the teams in the Rugby World Cup Final will run onto the field knowing they have a better head to head success rate over their opposition; at home, away, at neutral venues, at World Cups and in World Cup finals. They will know in their last 17 matches against their current opposition they have won 13 games, had 1 draw and lost only 3 times. They will also know they are in fine World Cup form, having scored the most tries, the most points, dominated key statistics like lineout steals and scrum penalties and also conceded the least tries at the tournament so far.

They will take confidence from knowing they have won two World Cups in six attempts (with two bronze medals also secured), never lost a World Cup final and have never been beaten in a World Cup knockout match by any northern hemisphere side. They will also be boosted by the fact they won their most recent involvement against the British and Irish Lions, have just knocked out the World Cup hosts in the quarter finals and also knocked out the six nations grand slam champions in their semi final. They will run onto the field with the support of a Rainbow Nation behind them, knowing anything can happen in a final. The other side, England, will run out as firm favourites.

Goosebumps! Lekker Bokke!’

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 2.11.19

Saturday’s the day we play the game.

A squelchy day in the rain is promised for me at Meadow Lane for me today as Notts County take on Hartlepool United at 3pm The ‘Monkey Hangers’ are pushing for a play-off position where the Nottingham side currently reside after a quite magnificent run of form of late. The Magpies, fresh from battering Woking 4-0 in midweek away from home in a seriously good performance will be attempting the tightest defensive record intact.

A football hits the back of the net
(Image: Independent.ie)

It’s been interesting watching Notts’ progress since the shaky days of late summer when a side was cobbled together just two days before the first game of the season. They have grown in stature, cohesion and confidence week-by-week. Pleasing too to see Notts boss, Neal Ardley grow with the team after the relentless pressure he had been under since joining the club. A good and decent man.

After the game it’s a dash home by tram and bus to Redhill and hopefully access some coverage of Hibs in their League Cup semi-final against Celtic at Hampden Park. There have been tough times for the Hibees this season of course, with the team consistently offering mediocre and punchless displays. Celtic meanwhile sit atop of the Scottish Premier League and are scoring freely. Expectations will be modest for all Hibees today but at least the team have shown some solidity and resilience of late. My wish is that they have a really good go at Celtic and don’t allow them to play their football. ‘Mon the Hibs.

Nottingham Forest also find themselves pushing for a play-off spot currently after relinquishing what might easily have been a second spot berth for them with two successive defeats. They travel south to Luton Town today hoping to get back on track. Manager Lamouchie reports healthy selection problems.

Peter Cormack, Dementia and Protecting Footballers

Some sobering news about a former footballing hero of mine today, Peter Cormack. Peter and his family have disclosed the news of his dementia diagnosis and symptoms of it he has been experiencing for some years.

Peter was an entertaining and swashbuckling attacking midfield for my team, Hibs, moving to Nottingham Forest where I was able to watch him many times as a youngster. I loved to watch him play and so did my dad who had a very high regard for our fellow Edinburgh native. As a boy I liked to try to emulate his prance-like run as Peter ran on the balls of his feet.

e1a7a3d444848ede5217f683c3823873(image: Hibernian.co.uk)

Perhaps Peter’s high watermark as a player came when performing for Liverpool in what became a trophy-laden career, as well as gaining nice full Scottish caps. As a player even as a skinny youngster he could certainly ‘dig’, pass the ball and had excellent control and vision. He was also versatile enough to leave his midfield berth and take over in goal for Hibs in an emergency as well as playing up front or in wide positions as well as his normal midfield slot. His great talent was spotted at an early age by then Hibs manager Jock Stein among others, when in 1964 in a prestige friendly game against Spanish giants, Real Madrid, Peter, just seventeen years-old scored against the legendary club.

pc2

(Image: Shoot Magazine)

Peter, though not a big man by any means was so very talented in the air – a great header of the ball due to his agility, ability to leap and his superb timing. It brings up the subject of another former footballer, the late Jeff Astle – also an exceptional header of the ball – who passed away due to a degenerative brain disease in 2002 caused by repeated traumas through heading the heavy leather footballs of the day. This is in light of a recent dementia study that has resulted in the Scottish Football Association considering a ban on Scottish children heading the ball

On a wider note, I have a growing feeling that professional footballers, perhaps due to considerations of their their ‘wealth’ (or assumed wealth) are being somewhat sacrificed for the needs of the game. In Peter and Jeff’s day footballers were perhaps considered differently with much more modest rewards available from the game. In the modern era, it seems to me that players are increasingly vulnerable to addictions such as those of gambling, alcohol and recreational drugs. Stories of depression, anxiety and even suicidality in players due to pressures of the industry and attendant lifestyle are becoming more common and are almost certainly under-diagnosed and reported due to stigma and ignorance. It’s almost as though the players cannot complain about the issues or problems they are experiencing in the public’s view due to arguably, a minority being paid fortunes to play the game many would love to.

I do feel the football industry and individual clubs need to focus more on the health and well-being of football players – no matter how much or little they earn. Money is not a protective factor for health or mental health in these circumstances. Tales of excess and ruined lives litter the professional game and those stories are certainly not relegated to the modern era solely. Players it appears are increasingly more indulged and overprotected in everyday matters of running heir lives and careers. Their personal health and well-being however seems to be a lesser consideration. In some ways, attitudes in the game have not evolved significantly from past days with certain subjects still being subject to stigmatisation.

Good luck and bless you Peter Cormack. You gave me so many happy memories which I will always cherish. Let’s all wish for the better protection generally of the professional football players of today.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 19.10.19

A not too shabby day in Hood Town (i.e. it’s not raining) and it’s another bus-walk-bus to the south of the city and Meadow Lane Stadium to watch Notts County take on a team I haven’t seen since the 1960s – Belper Town, in the FA Cup. Back in those pleasant football-going days it was Belper travelling to Arnold FC’s Gedling Road ground in the now-defunct Midland League. ‘Mary’s’ as Arnold were long known from their days as Arnold St Mary’s FC hold fond memories of Saturday afternoon and Wednesday evening football kicking off at a ground that was walkable from my folk’s front door. A call in at a Front Street chippy for a sixpenny ‘mix’ (chips and peas) with the gang and home to watch Dad’s Army on the telly. Those were the days.

image

‘Eight One…Eight bloody one!’

In 2019, Belper Town reside in the eighth division of League football and Notts in the fifth. The ‘Nailers’ from the nearby Derbyshire town being expected to bring some 1,500 supporters to Nottingham. Should be fun.

Meanwhile, my dear Hibees travel to Hamilton in Lanarkshire to face the Accies at New Douglas Park. A curious and unpredictable one this after the international break with Hibs showing a little more resilience in the three games prior. Hibs don’t have their problems to seek currently with few of the close season additions being termed as a success. They particularly struggle up front with new signing Doidge not firing as yet and Florian Kamberi out of sorts once more. I’ve a feeling there will be more questions asked of manager Heckingbottom come 5pm today.

The international break came at an inconvenient time for Nottingham Forest who were on a fine run of form and points gathering when the league had its short hiatus. It will be interesting to see if they pick up things where they left off against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium tomorrow and my hunch is that they will. They have shown a reliable resilience this season so far. It’s too early to be considering prospects for the season currently but I’d absolutely love to see the Garibaldi Reds back in the top flight once more where I believe they belong.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 12.10.19

Autumn rolls relentlessly on and for me it’s another visit to Meadow Lane Stadium in Nottingham to watch Notts County v Torquay United. How the not-mighty have fallen as the representatives of the English Riviera make the long trip to civilisation, possibly populating a motorised scooter. The Magpies’ boss, Neal Ardley appeared in the local media the previous day answering fan questions and reaffirmed what a genuine, principled and real football man he is. Well done Neal.

image

Meanwhile, the team in black and white stripes continue their press towards the play-of positions and with a good and sizable squad look well placed to make a charge on promotion as the season wears on.

The cat will no doubt come to the end of the drive to wave me away on this brave quest of bus, tram and terrace warfare.

At the same time, my one true football love, Hibernian, kick-off at New Douglas Park as they take on Hamilton Academical in an unpredictable-looking fixture. There have been some more encouraging signs from the Hibees of late after a fairly terrible time this season so far with at least a little more grit being apparent in their play. However, the jury remains firmly out on manager Heckingbottom at the moment, if only for having a silly Yorkshire name. The grand old team still appear to be labouring under some mediocre close season recruitment Do what you’ve got to do Hibs and put a display on please for my pals in that faithful away support in deepest Lanarkshire.

Edit: Just to make sure you’re paying attention at the back, the Hibs game is next week.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 28.9.19

Saturday’s the day we play the game and it’s off to the city and Nott’s County’s Meadow Lane I go for the 3pm kick off against Fylde FC. It’s bargain giveaway day today as owners of club, the Reedzt brothers, have kindly offered the game for just £3 admission as a thank you for the club’s faithful sticking by their team in the dark days of last summer.

image

Surprisingly, my new cat-pal-visitor decided not to follow me in the persistently precipitous weather. Cats are so smart. Notts Manager, Neal Ardley in almost a year at the club hasn’t overseen his team experience back-to-back wins in all that time and after a midweek away win, here’s another chance for the Magpies. My Saturday afternoon will be punctuated by a Scotch pie kindly provided by my Glaswegian pal at half time and earlier, checking up on the goings on at Easter Road where Hibs play Celtic. Probably by viewing my iphone through my fingers.

It’s turbulent times at Easter Road of course. Most of the dialogue features releasing Manager Paul Heckingbottom as nauseam with little debate about any other subject. I remain convinced that the Yorkshireman will find it incredibly difficult to turn fortunes around. His own lack of popularity being partly attributable to some challenging and slightly dismissive comments directed at the club’s supporters.

It was good news for Nottingham Forest last night as after an exciting 3-2 away win they went top of the Championship. Great to see Forest on top again – even if it may be short-lived. They are looking like strong challengers this season and play some exhilarating football at times through the likes of the excellent João Carvalho, Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban.

You’ll excuse me now as the Hibernians have just kicked off and gone ahead courtesy of any own goal by Celtic’s Ajer…

Postscript:

Notts performed grittily in grinding out a 2-0 victory. Another clean sheet would have been pleasing to them as would a terrific goal by forward, Thomas. I think many have seen the team perform better this season and lost. A moment of note was when the referee was injured in a collision with a Fylde player. Needing to retire from the game, the announcer on the public address system requested any ‘fully qualified referees to please come forward’. Handily, the Pavis Stand generally finds itself well stocked with ‘referees’! The Magpies now find themselves on the cusp of the play-off places for the first time this season.

Hibs competed well in a slightly tempestuous and feisty game with quite some controversy. Manager Heckingbottom managed to get himself banished to the stands after kicking a Gatorade bottle in anger, hitting a linesman! Some good signs but much work to do.

Nottingham Diary: September 2019

It’s been a turbulent week on Nottingham’s roads with simply just traversing the city a little problematic to say the least. However, sadly, lives have been lost.

Cityscape(1)(Image: Invest in Nottingham)

Last Saturday evening, a man was stabbed to death in the centre of the city. A friend passing mentioned that he had witnessed the victim being unsuccessfully resuscitated. Another pointless waste of life. The fact that part of the city’s roads were closed for forensics that evening and through most of the next day is of no consequence by comparison.

Wednesday brought another fatality, this time on the main thoroughfare, Upper Parliament Street in the heart of the city. A local man, just 34 years-old, was hit by a single-decker bus and was was reported dead the next day. Passing the scene later in the day was a hard view, with the unfortunate victim’s rucksack still lying in the road behind the bus and hard to not see.

Friday came and saw city centre gridlocks due to different reasons. The earlier part of the day saw demonstrations by Extinction Rebellion by way of a massed cycle ride and later, a gathering in Old Market Square. No question that there are difficult issues to be faced here. The movement’s methods will continue to be debated by the public.

It’s still Friday and it’s that day and weekend where Nottingham’s thousands of students descend back on the city. A lighter note at least to see the pavements near my office teeming with students and their parents, arms full of bedding, clothing and foodstuffs for the young incomers. Perhaps the most amusing sight being two young lads each absolutely laden with two-litre bottles of mineral water, maybe concerned about the availability of running water in their new homes. A visit to the supermarket on leaving work saw a scene resembling a plague of locusts having swarmed its formerly heavily laden shelves.

Some people find the preponderance of students around the city from late September onwards an irritation but not me personally, notwithstanding that they’re not vomiting, staggering and crying in the street in the early hours  in the suburb where I live. I do like though, to see that youthful ebullience tinged with trepidation as they leave home for the first time and sort themselves into their new friendship groups in a strange environment. And let’s face it, there’s nowhere stranger than Nottingham at times.

Finally, and like most Saturdays from September to May in Nottingham one of the city’s two professional football teams are playing at home, this week, Nottingham Forest. Approaching the ground is Trent Bridge where a ‘police incident’ has been reported. This, sadly, is modern day code for a possible suicide attempt, in this case a possible jumper from the Trent Bridge into the River Trent’s dangerous currents far below. An increasing trend in these troubled times. I do hope this person is safe and goes on to continue forwards into a content and meaningful life.

Saturday’s The Day We Play The Game 14.9.19

Saturday’s the day we play the game.

A sunny September day in Nottingham and it’s a trip to Meadow Lane to see Notts County v Halifax Town. The last time I watched these two football behemoths face off must have been about 1973 at The Shay in Halifax, comfortably the most awful football ground I’ve ever stepped in (and that’s a few).

Image may contain: shoes and boots

There’ll be no loose shale underfoot on the terrace for opposition fans to throw at each today in a comparatively sterile atmosphere.Just a need to duck no doubt from a few errant long balls coming down from the stratosphere from Notts’ cultured defenders.

My first love, Hibs’ supporters are on the sixty-mile road to Kilmarnock to see Hibernian play. Come on the Hibs!

Forest take on league leading Swansea in a tough-looking fixture on the road at the Liberty Stadium.

Postscript:

Notts ran out worthy winners by a goal to nil having played practically half the game with ten men after captain, Michael Doyle received a red card.

Hibernian suffered a miserable-sounding 0-2 reverse to Kilmarnock amid fresh clamour for manager Heckingbottom’s head – preferably before the Edinburgh derby in just seven days time…

Forest had a terrific 1-0 win over first-placed Swansea with skilful Portuguese midfielder, João Carvalho apparently showing his full range of trickery.

Happy 75th Birthday, Pat Stanton

Happy 75th Birthday Pat Stanton, Hibernian legend.

Perhaps no player embodied the ethos of the Hibernians more than Pat. On the field of play he was elegent, poised and personified class. He played the ‘Hibs way’ and led by an an example that few, if any, could ever match. What a glorious and wonderful footballer he was. You knew you were in the presence of greatness when watching Pat Stanton play the beautiful game.
Pat

‘What a time that was at the Hibs. We were the last of the romantics.’ – Pat Stanton’.

A descendent of Hibernian co-founder Michael Whelahan an emigree of County Rosscommon after the Great
Famine in Ireland, Pat Stanton upholds the link between present day and the 1875 of its Irish founding fathers.

As a young man, Pat with his dark, Irish good looks, and gentlemanly and kindly manner was a fine ambassador for the club he loves. He remains so at 75 years. Safe to say, no player in the club’s long history demands more respect and fully deserved, downright adoration. Happy Birthday, King Paddy.