“Unbelievable Jeff!” (aka the Wolves keep marching on)

I’ve not said anything about Wolves so far this season, in fact I said rather little last season as well. It seems I’m only able to get angry about football and since King Kenny has taken over at the helm it’s been nothing but a steady, continuous improvement and upward momentum. At the start of this season a lot of us Wolves fans were not looking too hard at promotion again. Everyone I know who supports the club were confident of a good showing and maybe a mid table existence but that of course isn’t what we’ve seen is it? 5 clean sheets in 8 league games, only 1 defeat that shouldn’t have really been and the best defence in all 4 divisions. Oddly we let Northampton score as many goals against us in the first round of the league cup at Molineux as we have the first 8 opponents in the championship. I dunno whether to salute Northampton or assume King Kenny has not got any plans for a cup run until he’s taken us back into the promised land.

But despite all of this, the one awful thing for me is that if we’d have had an out and out striker we’d probably be sitting on eight wins out of eight. From Ikeme in goal, right through our defence and midfield we have been superb (largely) and are creating plenty of chances but the lack of a proven finisher up front has probably meant we’ve not collected the points total that our performances have demanded and as good as earned. But it does bode well for the rest of the season and if we can get someone in soon on loan to just goal hang and bang in all of these chances I can promise you not a single team in this league will look forward to playing us home or away.

Wow it’s nice to blog about the football, I’ve been pretty short on inspiration recently and a lot of my recent posts have been pretty dull and forced. Actually I’ve noticed recently in blog land that things have been very quiet. Not a lot of stuff going on, the people I follow here on WordPress aren’t as prolific as they have been or are writing about stuff that isn’t taking my attention really. But little to read here has diverted my time from the internet and has helped me Re: my own research on the history of Bilston Town Football Club that I’m sure you all know by now I’m compiling. It’s actually been a really productive time in the last three weeks but I can inform you that it’s still a tough old slog. I can spend an hour or two trawling through newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive for only a few tit bits of information but so far I have at least two or three notes and bits of info on each season between 1894 and 1947 as well as chunks of stuff to write into the seasons between 1947 and 2013. It’s a continuous process and has become an addiction, its something I try to spend some time on every single day now, from twenty minutes here to two or three hours there, but the satisfying part is that with every moment I’m beavering away I know I’m a moment closer to its completion. I’ve probably gone a little too over the top with the pre-war facts, results and statistics but as its very hard to find much else I’m having to work with that information as best as I can. Will it be a work of art? Most people will think not, I of course will as I know the cost in time and money of it all and what ever anyone says at the end of the project it’ll be a success as nothing like it existed about the club before.

The following quote is from a recent post by Ricky Gervais on his blog it’s largely irrelevant as far as the Bilston town book goes but I do feel the last two sentences are very apt: “The point of art is to make a connection. If people talk about it, it’s succeeded in a way. People have assumed that, because I don’t listen to critics, or take studio notes or whatever, that I think I’m perfect and have never made any mistakes. This could not be further from the truth. Making the mistakes is the point, is the fun, is the important bit. But they have to be my own. The writer Rita Mae Brown said, “Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” The only difficult bit about this is getting final edit. So much creativity is stifled by people who ‘know better’, or by fear of failure, and before you know it, your goals have been twisted and you’ve forgotten what you set out to do.

Nothing will stifle my creativity and I will have final edit, I do listen to advice but pick very carefully which bits I listen too (if I listen to any at all I’ll be honest.) Anyone can tell you how to do something, but if you do it that way they’ll try and take some credit, so best to stick to your own mind and your own plans I feel. As I often say, it’ll be done when its done and that’s that!

Anyway, enough waffle, speak to you all again soon.

Peace.

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That’s the group won then: Switzerland 0-2 England.

Swiss roll anyone? Or should I say we rolled over the Swiss. A lot of people (including myself) had been critical of England since the World Cup finals and were not expecting a clean sheet and a win in the first and arguably the toughest game in European Qualifying Group E.

The first half I thought England were rubbish but in the second half they pretty much had things under control despite the Swiss growing in threat over the course of the 90 minutes. Wayne Rooney didn’t do a lot but he certainly did enough. His counter attack and lay off to Sterling to dink the ball past three defenders for the opener from Welbeck was like watching someone playing FIFA 14. It was counter attacking football at it best and proof that it only takes a moment of creativity to score a goal but it was pretty much all there was to shout about in the first half.

England looked much hungrier and pushed harder in the second half and looked the team more likely to score the next goal. The Swiss are by no means a bad team but they certainly aren’t a class side. Apart from Behrami. I rate Behrami highly, he certainly is a player that will grace the Premier league at some time, and I could see him at a club like Tottenham or Everton and doing a pretty damned good job. Switzerland did threaten on a couple of occasions, Hart making an easy save from a deflected shot and an offside decision that also lead to a good shot that made the England cross bar vibrate faster than all of the atoms in Nagasaki in 1945.

In the end Lamberts simple lay off for Welbeck who was able to take his time and place his and England’s second goal was more than sufficient to keep the media wolves at bay for a while at least and so Roy can enjoy an expletive free press conference tomorrow morning. Although if I was Roy I’d walk in, give the press pack a middle finger and say “Fuck you all!” before turning around and walking straight back out.

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Photograph: Peter Klaunzer/EPA

With the toughest game of the group already won, and other group members being San Marino, Slovenia, Estonia and Lithuania we could all be forgiven for thinking we could win all ten group games in qualifying but as England fans we all know they won’t make it that easy for themselves. And even if they do, we’ll be screwed once we get to the 2016 finals and have to play some proper teams.

Oh well, qualifying is good enough these days. We can’t ask for much more than that can we?

Peace.

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Summer, where did you go?

September has crept upon us and flashed itself out of the blue. Where did the summer go? I can’t remember us having much summer, but the little that I do remember was nice. I don’t think many of us will be complaining. Merely weeks ago we were all sweltering in the muggy, humidity that the British summer offers us (“Its not like that abroad is it?” They kept saying, “You know the sun in Spain” – it’s the same sun brainiacs. Weather, climate, that’s what you mean, but now I’m being pompous for the sake of it.)

I always look forward to the summer and my mood starts to dip around October as the realisation that getting up in the dark and coming home in the dark is here for another 5 months or so. I don’t expect my mood to go anywhere this year as it’s been a pretty down year all round. 2014 has been a year of one bad event and bad news after another. I’m not talking about The News, I just mean generally hearing about terrible things happening to people I know. It’s been relentless. I’ll be glad when this year is over. Actually on reflection I think that the dark weather may come as a relief as it marks the end of this all round shitty year.

It’s been good on the interest front. The Wolves have been amazing since January and continue to do well but these days my heart isn’t in that as much as it used to be. I suppose football really aint that important most of the time, but its great when you’re great (with nothing to care about you can care about anything.) The book research has gone well too but I’ve had far too many long breaks for my liking and find myself well behind schedule but again dark nights and cold days will give me the reason to lock the door and draw the curtains and get on with that.

One great interest of mine is growing and that has been a terrible year too. I started too late this year, then had problems getting things growing and largely started all over from scratch even later still. It’s not been a complete disaster, its been OK, but I’m hoping for bigger and better things in 2015. But like I’ve said in the grand scheme of things, selfish interests that I’ve bored many of the readers of this blog with, aint that important.

Summer has come and gone, but so will the autumn and the winter too. The seasons keep on rolling around, I hope good news and luck does the same thing too. Its still a little early to be looking at January 1st 2015 but a tiny part of me has a beedy eye on it already. Wishing my life away you may think, but it’ll be nice to wave good bye to this year.

Its been a year where I’ve gradually found it harder and harder to have any kind of inspiration or thoughts that I want to share here. But I’ll still be around and I’ve no doubt the old, talentless hack in me will return with lots to say about nothing.

Right I’ll end this on a song…

Peace.

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Remembering Noz.

It’s a tough old world that we live in.

This last weeks news has been terribly hard to take and so sad and heartbreaking. When I say news I’m not talking about “The News” I’m just speaking about the sad news that a friend, a brother from another mother, a man named Mark, has passed away.

I’d not seen him for a short while, and I know his family and his friends are hurting especially bad. His family are like my family and have been for close to twenty five years. I knew his cousins first and his brother and then got to know him. He was known as Noz and I know on occasion I asked him why he was called that but he never really explained it, but Noz you’ll live on in my heart for ever. I dunno what else to say at such a sad time but your passing has touched every single person who ever met you. You were a good guy, a sweet guy, a funny guy and I can say with great pride and honesty that I never heard you say a bad thing about anyone. You took the piss, you had a laugh and you liked a smoke and drink. You were a good honest Black Country bloke and you made everyone feel so happy, you warmed the hearts and damn you were hilarious. I won’t share any memories, they are just for me and the people who knew you and I’m not prepared to incriminate you or anyone else at this stage. I joke of course! It was always harmless fun.

Time spent with someone counts for a hell of a lot more than time spent apart but it’s now both of those positions that are upsetting for me. Knowing I was a mate, knowing I’d been an absent mate in his and many other mates lives in recent years, only tells me I need to be a mate again. Only I can’t now and that is not something I can make amends for. I can only apologise mate. Everyday-life takes over sometimes; I never stopped thinking about you. Every time I was in the garden growing stuff I’d always pass you a thought as you were an inspiration to me, you opened my mind to something I now love and hold very dear. Thank you mate, you inspired me there friend. I’ll grow you a sunflower every year from now on that’s for damned sure.

I just want to end this by saying, a lot of people think that when you have a lot of loss in your life it makes it easier and bearable but it really doesn’t. Death of a loved one, be it family or friend, isn’t like changing a puncture. Eventually you can become really good at changing punctures, so much so that you hardly remember the first time it happened and your heart sank. Every single time the phone goes and you answer it to hear the news that someone you knew and cared about has gone you hurt and it never hurts any less regardless of who it is or how many times it has happened.

Your life feels emptier, because it is.

May you rest in peace Mark and whether you are in heaven, a sunbeam, or reborn somewhere else, just know you were loved and will be missed a hell of a lot by more people than you could’ve imagined. 

Peace and love. 

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Quintessentially lazy.

I have been a stranger around wordpress in recent weeks. My inspiration has almost all dried up and that has never happened in all of the time I’ve been blogging here. It should be concerning me but it’s not at all. I’ve been worrying a lot about the Bilston Town FC book and procrastinating about writing up what I have rather than just getting on with it. I’ve been struggling to cope with the heat but that appears to be going away for a few days now, odd dreams and nightmares have been keeping me up at night and I’ve been having terrible anxiety linked to nothing at all. Also in July it was the eleventh anniversary of the death of my 16 year old nephew, he would have been 27 in July too and that has weighed on my mind along with some unfortunate news for a few mates at work that has also been very upsetting. All in all I think I’ve just diagnosed my anxiety in a paragraph. I should really relax and take a moment to smell the roses but I get bored really easily and find if I’m not watching something I want to watch on TV, reading something I want to read or doing a task that I need or want to do I end up moping around like a spoilt child. I’ve often wondered if I’m depressed or bipolar as my moods really do swing wildly from euphoria to self loathing and back again but I hate the doctors and find my doctor is too obsessed with me stopping smoking and drinking completely rather than deal with the reason I’m their to see him so I don’t waste his or my time.

All of this coupled with the fact that I am very lazy. Last weekend I barely moved from the house, something the missus would often moan at me about but this time she managed to join in and do very little too, I think I’ve converted her! As I’m getting older I’m getting more and more lazy and expect that I’ll be wheelchair bound or bed bound through almost choice in the near future (I’m actually looking forward to it, especially the bed baths from the district nurses).

Well I soon have a week off work and I hope to fill the time with daily activities, its such a shame when you have time off to do nothing with it. Hopefully its just what I need to get myself back into the swing of life. If I’m not around for a while don’t worry, I’ll be back. Hope you’re all doing well in blogland dear constant readers.

Peace.

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Palestine.

Life under clouds

But wanting cloud nine.

 

Freedom for all

Nothing’s defined.

 

Told to retreat

Your hands twined.

 

“It’s not yours

But it’s mine.”

 

Drink water

Want wine.

 

Looking for,

A peace sign.

 

Want freedom.

Free Palestine.

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One post about gardening and growing.

I promised myself a while ago that I wouldn’t post about gardening and growing mostly because of my street cred. But of course as I no longer have any street cred, in fact I have bailiffs knocking the door for the repayments on the street cred I borrowed from a loan shark in 2006 and still haven’t paid off despite using all of the street cred within 6 months with an APR of 1,458%.

About ten years ago or so when I first caught the gardening bug the spring and summer months seemed to go on for ever in the same way that the school summer holidays seemed to flow out in front of me like a never ending weekend back when I had nice white teeth and nothing better to do than fuck about on a Commodore Amiga and watch Vids at 2.30am on channel 4 (remember Vids? It was cool as fuck! My favourite was that loud shouty welsh guy… anyway.)

These days the months flash past, I mean its July for god sake. We’ve already had the longest day of the year, its getting darker out there every day folks and it feels like I’ve barely started out there and I’m assuming this year that I won’t get everything done as I’d hoped and planned back when the long cold evenings of January gave me time to just sit and plan the year ahead as far as the growing season went (yes I do that too, and I know owe more street cred to that loan shark, dammit!)

The strawberry bed that I so carefully and lovingly constructed about 5 years ago has now become the wild wild west of strawberry beds. The neatly constructed, well spaced plants have seen season after season and vine after vine produced that now the strawberries themselves compete with themselves for space and only the strong plants survive, the surrounding area including the lawn has not been spared this half decade slow invasion across one corner of my garden and I think it may be time once the current fruiting season is finally over to start digging up the plants, extending the bed and starting again but I can’t fault the crop. I wish I was less lazy (and less busy, yes I’m moaning about writing a book again!) and I’d make three ton of jam or freeze them or do something. Weirdly I’ve tried my damnedest give them away but can’t seem to shift them fast enough, it’s sad but I do throw away a lot of strawberries. Maybe I should punnet them up and get down the car boot sale ay?

The other ever present is the rhubarb which again grows for fun, you can’t really kill them I don’t think. I just cut it all back at the end of the year and bury it in compost and the next year there it appears again bigger and better than ever. Very tasty indeed but again a cropping plant that produces much more than I could ever entertain eating, but its better to have your cup runneth over I suppose.

The tomatoes were very slow starters for me this year, it took them weeks and weeks to germinate and so they are not as well established as they usually are for this time of the year, a couple of tiny tomatoes appearing but nothing much. I’m very disappointed as they are the first cropping fruit that I ever grew. I grow them in a weird way in memory of my dad who died in 2002. He loved gardening, and would be amazed to see me making any effort gardening, but the only edible he grew was tomatoes. He bloody loved them! I’ve 6 plants growing 3 tomato and 3 cherry tomato. Fingers crossed they all come at once but again at the end of the year laziness will see me throwing away buckets of green once rather than making chutney. When I’m retired I will, if I don’t die trying to earn a pension which is what is more likely these days.

The peppers are looking good, they too, like the tomatoes, took their time in appearing and so are not as big as I’d like but the last few weeks of sunshine with some over enthusiastic watering, have grown and bushed and are showing already a good crop is upon me there. They have dozens of fruit buds and I’ve got 6 plants so I’m hoping for many a nice pepper stuffed with cottage cheese on my salads come August and September.

The two cucumber plants I have managed to grow are a miracle. I planted about a dozen seeds and none of them appeared and I actually retrieved all of the seeds from the pots and then replanted them after drying them out and somehow 2 grew. They are vining like triffids and 1 of them has a nice large (if nobbly) cucumber appearing. I can’t remember the variety so I dunno if they will be small and abundant or large and few but either way I’m looking forward to chucking those, sliced naturally, on the plate with the stuffed peppers.

Spuds, my favourite thing to grow just because they are 100% carbohydrate so it’s like making your own chips! And you can do a hundred things with them. They really do fill you up and the ones I’ve put in this year are going really well. I got 10 seeds from Aldi for a quid and put them in pairs into 5 large tubs and they are going great. When digging over my compost in March I found a Rooster spud from last year too that had survived a mild winter in a compost bin almost perfectly intact and it had started to sprout so I made room for that in an old Belfast sink that has been left upside down and largely empty and unused in my garden since I first started daring to go out there and try any of this stuff. That rooster plant now stands at 3 feet tall as I type this and is flowering. I dunno if it’ll produce anything as I’ve never grown my own spuds from a previous year, in fact I wasn’t sure you could. I always understood that seed potatos were produced at great altitude to avoid diseases and give them the best chance, maybe I was wrong. But I’ll be digging that plant up in the next week or two and see what I’ve got. I might cut the plant down in the next couple of days and let any potential spuds harden off in the soil as this keeps the skins on when you boil them. If they taste nice I might keep one back (hidden beneath soil as its father spud) and grow them again next year.

I’ve grown peas this year for the very first time, and considering how easy and common a plant they are for gardeners I’m surprised I’ve never done it before. I’ve already had many pods off and shelled the goodness from within and they have been the most fantastic peas I’ve ever tasted. I still have plenty left to harvest but they are being attacked very badly from slugs and moths and are struggling to cope. I may be cropping the lot in the next week too and take the plants out and composting them. I dunno what I’ve learned from my first year other than moths and slugs like to eat them, I need to find a better position to grow them in to avoid such attacks or find other plants I can grow nearby to draw the attentions of such pests. To be continued in 2015.

The dwarf French beans are doing terrible. I dunno why. The plants look healthy and very green but they aren’t showing any signs of beans yet. I’m not very hopeful but one good handful of beans to stick on a plate alongside some carrots, peas and spuds for one lunch in late September will do for me.

And of course as I just mentioned, I have carrots growing too. I’ve had reasonable success with this crop every time I’ve tried to grow them. This year I have sieved the soil to an unbelievably friable condition before growing them. I was considering adding a lot of sand but had none to hand when I put the seeds in and so just used heavily powdered soil. So far so good they are growing very well and I expect at least one (maybe two) monster carrots. But ultimately if I can get a fair few normal sized ones I’ll be happy. Cooked or grated up on a salad they are great. Organic carrots are an absolute treasure and again are so easily grown with a little care and thought. Hopefully the height I’ve planted them at will foil the low flying carrot fly but I guess we’ll see.

Last years yellow onion bulbs which never appeared and survived my clear up of the garden in November have this year grown. I was hoping they’d bulb up nice and fat having weathered the winter but instead they are all going to seed. So I’ll just collect the seeds. I am a big saver of seeds and I will be saving anything that I can be it edible or just flowering but I have no idea what to do with the little black seeds that you get from onions. I had an onion flower a few years ago and I saved the seeds and planted them and had no joy at all. If anyone can share any advice about that I’d be more than happy to listen.

I’ve managed to nurture a poppy plant to nearly 4 feet tall, it produced five flower heads, two have flowered one after the other. Its like they are taking it in turns to appear. The 2 flowers have now become those seed pot pepper pot heads that again I’ll be saving as seeds but I’ve had no luck with propagating wild flower seeds. It appears to me that nature is the best propagator for some things and poppies are certainly one of them.

Anyway, I’ve gone on longer than I had anticipated but it’s been nice sharing this one gardening post of 2014 with you. I’ve enjoyed it so much though I cannot rule our others.

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Peace.

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