OK, it’s been a while since I have updated but various writing commitments and a concentrated spurt of writing articles on Polterwotsit, mainly about the supposed Thorpe Park hauntings, though also about a Cumbrian haunt, has kept me busy. Of course I have been doing many things – I rarely seem to have much free time apart from the hours lost in reading — but yesterday David Sivier came up for our weekly meeting, and we as always went out for lunch. It was at lunch I realised I was becoming increasingly grouchy, and the even worse than usual service began to get to me. I don’t mind people getting my order wrong, but I’d prefer they just admitted it if they say they will change it; normally I’d just consume the wrong order, yesterday I argued my point, got it changed, and refused to accept I was at fault (and I wasn’t). Still, that and a few other minor thing seemed to suddenly induce a murderous rage in me — and given how incredibly unlike me that is, I was a bit concerned, but not as much as Lisa and David.
I’m usually an incredibly mellow person, but since I have given up smoking I have reverted to my old teenage self, where the slightest insult will result in my wiping out my enemies clan to the seventh generation, boiling their bones and giving it as broth to their surviving kinfolk. Well something like that – anyway I was clearly not my usual happy-go-lucky self. Lisa suggested I seek medical advice and pills before I actually slaughtered or sadistically maimed anyone, which seemed a bit over the top. I was merely grumpy, and still far less so than most people get, I’m just more imaginative in expressing my annoyance I think!
So I decided I needed to do something, as giving up smoking is actually really quite nasty in it’s effects on my moods. Its been over eight weeks now, and I have been a bit more irritable than usual, but thought it might be over by now. Two months — how come I’m still grumpy? Lisa claims it is that smoking actually calmed me down, rather than giving up has made me more tense – if she is right, then I’m really stuffed – go back to smoking, or inflict wrath of biblical proportions on those who annoy me – I’ll take smoking every time. I really, really hate confrontation, anger and violence. Besides, no one pays weregeld these days, and so blood feuds just take up far too much of a chaps time!
Anyway the good news is I thought of a compromise between being sedated in the interests of public peace (and to be fair I’m usually pretty mellow when Becky is here), and wreaking horrible vengeance on seven generations of the descendants of those who serve me diet not full fat coke or the wrong meal, or give my change to someone else, or whatever else – all those annoyances were in twenty four hours, and clearly one can see why faced with such provocation was no rational alternative but disembowelling them in a Viking Blood-eagle or hurling them and their kin in to pits of serpents?
I decided I probably needed some exercise, and to not sit around dwelling on the craving for ciggies. So David and I set out in search of a ball.
Now I’m forty one, which remarkably comes as quite a surprise to me. I had the impression I was forty two, I don’t know why, but when I got on a wii fit last night to check my weight (a stone lighter than Christmas 2009, which I think is good, as I have been furiously piling on pounds since I gave up smoking till I resemble a rather corpulent walrus, sans tusks) – anyway it seems I am forty one. I was born in 1969: I will not be forty two till August. I could have sworn I was already forty two, so it was real shock, though I guess not an unwelcome one. It is ironic that I can list every Conservative, Liberal and Labour leader since my birth (despite little interest in politics), tell you the names of the principal advisers of Charlemagne, and discuss in depth neurotransmitters, or the geology of the Cotswolds, or many many other utterly useless subjects – yet I do not actually know how old I am. (actually I rarely know which day it is, and sometimes get confused on months and years, which probably accounts for my vagueness on my own age).
Anyway I’m forty one, and of generous build. Dave is about forty three (I know he is two years older than me, and we share the same birthday so I always know exactly how old Dave is if I know how old I am, which I don’t usually) and I think it is fair to say of equally non-athletic body. We are not going to win any awards as Cheltenham hunks, unless hunk is based on the dictionary definition of “a shapeless gobbet; a roughly torn portion”. Still after discovering that the toy shop on The High Street did not sell footballs – “not in season, they are summer toys” – er, I thought the football season was in the Spring? – well what would I know! we spotted a huge basket of them in SportsDirect, opposite. SportsDirect seems to sell lots of stuff dirt cheap, so we wandered in and found respectable looking balls at two for a fiver (size: Small, but they look football sized to us).
So Dave, sometimes known by his nickname “Beast”, and i bought a football, and proudly wandered, well shambled, through town with it. That alone should end the days of fifty million pound transfer fees – the sight of us two with a football has doubtless sent the style conscious youth of Cheltenham rushing to buy dominoes sets, eat cream puffs and donuts, and swear darkly never to be seen near a football field again. If we play football, it is no longer the beautiful game – it’s now something for the really scary old codgers, not something to admit to a passion for. OK, it might take more than one park kickabout before we kill the game off – but three more sessions and I reckon that will be it, terminally unstylish!
So we then set about texting everyone we knew who was likely to be available, as we had an hour spare, but astonishingly most people claimed they had to work late. 😉 Don’t they have windows? Or failing that, something they can quickly cosh the boss unconscious with before scurrying out to freedom? (you can see know why I need exercise or fags!) David and I had been working: now was clearly the time to play football. Luckily Paul Birkett was free, so we made our way to Winston Churchill Memorial Gardens, happy, free, and all to willing to kick a ball around and run amok on a Friday afternoon
On arrival we discovered the first problem; the gardens, once Cheltenham’s cemetry, before it filled up some time in the 1860’s, does not have much space suitable for ball games. Much is given over to the old funeral chapel, now a martial arts dojo as far as I can make out, and flower beds. We chose a patch of ground on the south side of the park – I did not mention to the others that the graves were only grubbed up here fifty years ago, as it seemed a bit grim, and makes me eye the mud on my carpet I trod home with a slightly bleak eye, as I think of the former residents who may be represented in it. It’s a nice park, but in future I think we will to Pittville Park: not only was that never a cemetery, but we can stay further from the children’s play area. Yesterdays Citizen headline was about some pervert monster who abducted a teenage girl being sent down — we definitely got the impression the mothers were very wary of what we were doing a few hundred years away, despite me engaging them in jokes about our ball skills and a rather playful Cocker Spaniel called inevitably “Jarvis”. Eventually I think they realised we were there to have fun, and not to harm their progeny at the far end of the park, and I think laughed at the sight of two fat wheezing old blokes chasing a ball (and the lean and exotically good looking (as the part-Dutch go) Paul, the rat – he still plays hockey and is much younger than Dave and I! – anyway I think the weird spectacle of us trying to get a ball past Paul in goal amused them in the end. By the time we left mothers and children had all departed, and a group of Asian lads who wandered through averted their gaze from the horrific sight.
Winston Churchill Gardens seems to always have a good number of Eastern Europeans enjoying the park, but they generally ignore me, or politely move as I wander through, and they seem to enjoy the gardens. In the summer you get native drunk teenagers and locals in little clusters, and the odd bit of hassle apparently from gangs of feral teens, but I have never had any problems with anyone: I often know a few of them though, and generally laugh and smile when they shout stuff. I used to push Chris around the Park in her wheelchair, and after dark I can imagine it’s a bit scary down there, but it s a nice place to go during the day, and very well kept and heavily used by lot of different communities, a real success for an urban green space. We wandered home tired, sweaty and smelly after an hour of running about, as the Park was swallowed in the evening shadows. By the time we got back to mine, the street lights were on, and night had fallen.
I tried again today, it being a Saturday, to find some people to kick a ball about, but no one was interested, except two mormons on my doorstep who promised to come if I could find any more people for a kickabout. I guess it’s simple really why I want to go back to being ten, as Dave pout it, and play ball in the park – I have no kids, no real reason for exercise nowadays, I don’t even need to keep for for work , and I’m sitting typing most of the time. Giving up the fags means I have put weight on, and I do seem to be getting more irritable, though hopefully that will pass – as I say it seems rare, and associated generally with having just eaten and wanting a cigarette. After two months I hope I’d be beyond all this.
Oh, and photos – yes I took a couple, just to prove Siv and I played football, (rather gently as as he has bad knees at moment) on my phone. But I can’t manage to email them off, so no photos this time. Think yourselves lucky, it’s not a pretty sight! If anyone would like to join us for a future kickabout, drop me a line. Pittville Park next time. Anyway, at least I’m much more relaxed now! 😉