Having watched films like The Day After Tomorrowand 2012, it’s horrible to think that art can, to a certain extent, imitate life and that certainly seems to be the case as Hurricane Sandy wreaks havoc across areas of America’s east coast.
The incidence of devastating earthquakes tsunamis, floods, storms and other weather extremes seems to have increased over recent years and perhaps the scariest thing is that despite mankind’s lengthy list of incredible technical advances, if Nature decides to flex her muscles, we are essentially powerless.
The pictures and videos are shocking, but it can be nothing in comparison with the fear created by the reality. Lives have been lost and that is just such a tragedy, but even for those who survive the worst of the effects of Hurricane Sandy, homes and possessions will have been lost or damaged and lives will somehow have to be rebuilt...
The strength of the human spirit is often seen in moments of the greatest adversity, but events such as Hurricane Sandy and some of the other natural disasters to have befallen our planet are just a horrible way for that strength to be tested.
My thoughts are with everyone in an eerily dark New York, New Jersey and all the other areas affected by the storm... I hope you stay safe and that the worst will soon be over.
Well, here we are at the end of a week on holiday, getting ready to go back to work in the morning... we’ve not been very lucky with the weather, but it’s been lovely to have a few days to ourselves.
I am now an expert in home furnishings, after Elaine has taken me on a (very slow) guided tour of most of the stores in the area. Fortunately, most now contain a coffee shop, especially for weary husbands and fortunately, the various pieces of cake I’ve scoffed have been offset by several visits to the gym.
We’ve also done quite a bit of chatting... I enjoy chatting, but I’m probably (definitely) better at worrying.
I’m not saying I’d like to return to my childhood, but hindsight does make you realise that there’s an awful lot to be said about the innocence and lack of responsibility that you have when you’re younger. It’s just a shame that you don’t appreciate that you should make the most of this time... because being an
adult can be bloody difficult.
Being a born worrier clearly doesn’t help... I swear I’d get anxious if I had nothing to fret about... but we seem to live in a materialistic age in which job security (or lack of...) and money are constant (and understandable) concerns for many families. I’m pretty good at worrying about emotional stuff too... especially when it comes to those who mean the most to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t panic all the time (I had a particularly good day back in March, I remember...), but there are certain times when the pressure of adulthood seems to weigh heavily on my round shoulders.
But in reality, I am lucky... I don’t have a bulging bank balance (although the adjective does describe my waistline), but I do have a wonderful wife and family, I do have my health, I do have a roof over my head and I do have a huge collection of Doctor Who DVDs...
Hopefully the secret of relaxation will be revealed sooner rather than later because no kid would ever believe how quickly the years fly by...
I'm going to have a glass of wine now... cheers!
Here’s your Wednesday book update...
My look back at the Coronation Street barmaids has now been checked twice and a copy of the draft will soon be winging its way to my loyal proof reader Maureen so that she can cast her expert eye over the text and then point out my spelling and grammatical errors very much in the style of an exasperated school teacher.
Just too many dots Richard...
Back in 1995, I compiled a diary of Gateshead’s season in the top tier of English non-league football. It only exists in hard copy, which I’m busy retyping onto the computer. It’s quite strange looking over something I wrote almost two decades ago... although this work shows some early signs of the writing style which I’ve developed, it does feel quite “raw”... which I suppose it was. Never-theless, it’s quite an interesting little jaunt down memory lane and I predict sales might just reach double figures!
As I mentioned earlier in the week, I will be totally redrafting the main body of my debut/farewell novel. I started this in 2004 so I don’t think it would be a wise move to suggest a possible completion date... unless I make it to the nearest decade. For many reasons, the project has proved very difficult –certainly from a personal and emotional point of view - and I feel that the best, in fact the only chance of this book ever seeing the light of day is to take several steps back, in the hope that I eventually take a few forward...
Finally (and this is where you all come in...), I am considering another of my random “search”projects for 2013. Here’s a question: if I was to ask you to name one person whose autograph you would want to obtain, who would it be and why?
For obvious reasons (seeing as the book will be based on the quest for an auto-graph from several of your suggestions), the person in question has to be alive and hopefully not so famous that every door will be slammed in my face. The lady in the photo will be my choice. She is Isabelle “France” Gall, the singer who won the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest (representing Luxembourg). As you can see, she is beautiful, with a lovely singing voice and from what I’ve read, she’s had a really interesting life. The fact that she’s French, now in her mid-60s and I haven’t a clue how to find her makes France Gall an ideal subject.
I am looking for a total of ten “victims”, from any/every walk of celebrity life (film, television, sport, music etc) and if you’ve got any ideas, please would you leave a comment after the blog, or send me a private message via Facebook. I won’t promise that I’ll be able to find everyone that’s eventually chosen, but I think I can pretty much guarantee that the book will be different, interesting... oh and relatively cheap!
Looking forward to a deluge of replies so please feel free to share. Thank you!
As many of you will know, Pointless is my absolute favourite quiz show and if Elaine’s not on a late shift, we always sit and watch it together... to try and find some really obscure answers and see if we would have won the jackpot... had we been on the show... which clearly we weren’t...
Firstly though, seeing as she’s far too modest, I must mention arguably Elaine’s best ever movie spot from Sunday. We were watching the Jean Harlow film Dinner at Eight... now neither of us is an expert in vintage Hollywood cinema; in fact, this was probably the first of Jean’s movies that Elaine’s actually seen...
Anyway, on hearing the voice of the society hostess Millicent Jordan, Elaine looked up and said it sounded just like the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz. Some of you may already know the answer, but for us it needed two minutes on Google to confirm that actress Billie Burke was indeed responsible for both Millicent and Glinda.
Impressed is an understatement!
It was always going to be hard to match such a quality piece of trivia, but I came pretty close last night when I found what would have been a winning answer to the Pointless jackpot question to name any Goal of the Season winner from 1970 onwards...
Elaine was on the computer (well it was a football question) when I shouted over... “Mickey Walsh... Blackpool... that’s my only answer...”
And here’s the reveal....
Richard Osman actually said: “Full marks for obscurity if you said Mickey Walsh, who won it in 1975 for Blackpool. That’s a terrific answer!”
Whether it’s terrific enough to beat Elaine’s finest hour, I’m not sure, but this is the goal from February 1975 that has stuck somewhere in my mind for the last 38 years...
Back to my usual random rubbish today and a blog about “firsts” that was prompted by lying awake in bed at stupid o’clock this morning thinking about the first record I ever bought...
Actually, I’m not sure whether it was bought or given, so the first I somehow “acquired” was Back Home by the 1970 England World Cup Squad. The record reached no.1 in the UK single charts in May 1970, before being deposed by Yellow River by Christie. The B-side had nothing at all to do with football... it was a love song (of sorts) entitled Cinnamon Stick. And if you think there is something strange about a song named after something you find in a spice rack... what about Paprika Don’t Preach by Madonna?
Or Cumin Feel the Noize by Slade?
The Madonna one was better wasn’t it..?
And the first album I bought was News of the World by Queen... could have been a lot worse really.
As you may know, I have always enjoyed watching Doctor Who... the first story I can vividly remember called The Mind Robber, a Patrick Troughton five-parter from 1968. The memory is of the sound made by the creepy White Robots... well they were creepy when I was four.
The first band I ever went to see live in concert was Stiff Little Fingers at Newcastle City Hall way back when...
Incidentally, Elaine and I actually went to see them in Middlesbrough last year. Some of the songs might still relevant three decades on... but some things have clearly changed... waist measurements being one of the more noticeable.
Anyway, let's cut to the chase. If you’re wondering whether or not I’m going to reveal a personal “first”... well I’m prepared to go as far as my first kiss.
If you’re counting an innocent peck under the dining room table at prep school when I was eight, then the young lady in question was called Sarah Wombell. Oh... you’re not... okay; in that case she was called Bridget, who was in the year above me at senior school. It was actually quite a romantic moment that I didn’t see coming (there’s a theme...) but I can remember exactly where we kissed... sadly, only because of the commemorative plaque I left to mark the spot, which is there to this day...
Anyway, I think I’d best stop now. As always, feel free to make my day by leaving a comment... and enjoy your weekend.
Tomorrow is one of the most important dates in the calendar... it was on 20th October 2005 that Elaine and I went on what was effectively our first “date”. Seven years later and here I am sitting at the computer, proudly wearing the wedding ring she gave me just over four years ago, knowing that every day starts and ends with the special person it took me over forty years to find...
It was so difficult for our relationship to even start, let alone develop and although the memories might fade ever-so-slightly with the passage of time, we never forget and occasionally take the time to reminisce... and to wonder how we overcame so many obstacles to reach where we are today.
There’s no way I would ever glorify the fact that our friendship blossomed from two unhappy marriages though... because children were involved. From a position of relative maturity, the situation was hard enough; we made tough choices with far-reaching consequences and keeping a dignified, protective silence in the wake of the scorned backlash has meant that there is still a gap in Elaine’s life that may now never be filled.
Apparently we had been “having an affair” for a year... not true... not even half true. We made the decision to spend our lives together in less than six months, having actually met only eight times... yes... that unhappy...
Anyway, in the end, Elaine came to be with me not once, but twice; I don’t know from where she gained the courage, but I will be forever grateful. She knew that basically all I had to offer was sitting in front of her... and to me, it didn’t seem like much. I wasn’t wealthy (understatement), but what Elaine really wanted, money couldn’t buy... well, she has my friendship, my trust, my respect and my love... and she always will.
Someone very important to me once said you should always tell those you love, exactly how you feel because... well... you just never know... so... Elaine, thank you for wanting me and believing in me. I love you darling xxx
Just a quick book update... which knowing me will turn into a ramble.
The first proof read of Coronation Street barmaid compendium has nearly been completed... another two or three to go and it’ll be ready to hit the shelves... en route to the bargain bucket. I’m really pleased with the way the body of the text reads (I think you can tell it’s one of mine!), although some of the screen caps are a little grainy. That said it’ll only cost £6.99... about the same as a decent bottle of wine...
On reflection, the wine might be a better idea, so I shall target teetotallers with my inspirational marketing campaign...
But what then? Well, for any fans of the Roman Empire, you’ll have to wait a while to read about Diocletian because I’ve decided to have one last go at completing my debut (and coincidentally final) novel, The Beige Beetle. I first started writing this back in 2004 when life was at a pretty low ebb (under-statement), but for one reason or another, the words just wouldn’t come. I redrafted most of the work about a year ago, but some profoundly personal moments lay hidden in amongst the fiction; the journey of these memories from the back to the front of my mind had quite a dramatic (and I don’t use the word lightly) effect on me... and the book was put on hold as a result.
Twelve months on and I guess it’s now or never... the story is either told or stays unwritten. Irrespective of the biographies I have completed and the other books I have written, this novel would be my magnum opus... my big ice cream. I so want to do this and really hope that a few of you would be prepared to read the deepest of departures... I guess this is my way of asking if you would be kind enough to leave a comment or a word or two of encouragement that I can return to as the story slowly begins to take shape...
Thank you x
I had a really good day yesterday... Elaine and I headed off to Aysgarth Falls in the Yorkshire Dales for a coffee, a chat and some time to walk and relax in lovely surroundings (the weather was fantastic too... barely a cloud in the sky). I hadn’t been there in years, but not much has changed... except it costs £2.50 to park your car for a couple of hours... and there’s an “honesty box” to pay to go right up to the falls.
And yes we did pay... reluctantly... but the box is now in the boot of my car so I should make a small profit on the day.
We didn’t fancy cooking so had a Chinese for tea and then the drinking started. And the only thing to do when the alcohol takes hold is to watch the episode of Miranda when the new chef arrives, Miranda curtseys, then... er... trumps as she stands up. Now I realise I’m rapidly approaching the time of life when I can go on a Saga holiday and get a free sat-nav for taking up Michael Parkinson’s affordable savings plan, but farting is funny... fact.
Anyway, this weekend has seen me gain a several new friends courtesy of a certain well-known social networking site. I’ve “met” (albeit in the virtual sense) some lovely people through a shared interest in Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow etc... and the books I’ve written (which were never really intended for general consumption) have now been found in dustbins right across the globe... Norway being the latest country added to the list. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on any of the people about whom I’ve written, but it’s lovely to feel “accepted” by many who know the subject in question in far greater detail than I ever could.
Anyway, today will be devoted to proof reading my Coronation Street book... well it will once my head stops hurting. Then after just five more days at work, we’re on annual leave for a week [insert smiley face]... can't wait!
For now though... as Bugs Bunny would say... “that’s all folks”... enjoy your Sunday.
I’ve purposely held back from writing about the terrible events surrounding the disappearance of five year-old April Jones. The story has been at the forefront of news bulletins for over a week now and with every passing day, the last rays of hope of finding April alive are extinguished.
There are three points I want to make...
Firstly, I accept the notion of “innocent until proven guilty”, but proverbially speaking there is rarely smoke without fire and the police must have the soundest reasons for charging Mark Bridger with murder. If guilt is proven, there is no amount of remorse or mitigation that can excuse the taking of a child’s life and it saddens me... in fact it sickens me that the British justice system simply cannot hand down a suitable punishment...
Secondly, no parent should ever outlive their offspring. But to lose a child that was only out playing as a reward for a fantastic school report..? No words will ease the guilt of circumstance that will torture April’s parents for the rest of their lives. Their pain is beyond imagination and I feel so very sorry for them.
Finally... and most tragic of all, April Jones will be frozen in time as a five year-old child, so cruelly denied the chance of a future... or more accurately the right to a future. April could have grown up to be almost anything... but no one will ever know the difference she could and would have made... the happiness she would have brought into the lives of others... maybe she would have had children, created another generation... so many empty, unwritten pages in a book that looks to have ended suddenly and far far too soon.
There is nothing more that I want to say... except God bless you April Jones x
Saturday’s Super League Grand Final was a quality clash between two fine sides. Leeds Rhinos eventually emerged victorious, avenging their recent Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of the pre-match favourites Warrington Wolves.
Cricket will always be my first sporting love, but for live action, there’s very little that can match the sheer excitement, skill and strength on display in a game of professional rugby league. I suppose the figures don’t lie... and football (the round ball variety) remains the nation’s favourite sport, but there are two reasons why I would always choose rugby league...
Although any player at the top of his profession will possess great skill, few sports demand the incredible strength (physical and mental) and bravery like rugby league. I’ve heard it said that the forwards will experience the equivalent of a 40mph car crash several times in a game; such is the impact in the tackle. And if you want examples of sheer courage and team ethic, look no further than Old Trafford at the weekend. Kevin Sinfield was knocked out by what was effectively a flying head butt (albeit accidental – or so it looked)... but he came round, got back up and simply got on with the game.
But what about Warrington prop Paul Wood (above left)? He suffered a ruptured testicle courtesy of a stray knee, yet stayed on the field for a further twenty minutes despite later admitting that the injury “smarted a bit”. In fact, it was serious enough for the testicle to be removed when Wood finally made it to hospital...
Compare the antics of some (in fact plenty) of very highly paid football “stars”... diving... feigning injury... arguing with officials... etc etc and I’m sorry, football and rugby league are at completely opposite ends of the tough spectrum. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure “gamesmanship” in many forms exists in every sport and football can certainly be exciting and incite passion, but there’s a fine line between gamesmanship and cheating... and for me football has a bad habit of crossing that line too often.
The second reason that sets rugby league apart from many other professional sports is the accessibility and approachability of the players. I’ve lucky enough to meet some great people through watching rugby league... and quite a lot I am proud to be able to call mates. I’ve come across footballers playing at non-league level who thought they were superstars (they were wrong...) and whilst I realise that generalisation is not always fair and there are exceptions to prove every rule, I would have a beer and a chat with a rugby league player rather than a Premiership footballer every time... unless of course it was my round.
So this blog is a salute to Kevin Sinfield, Paul Wood and all those who are talented and courageous enough to play the thirteen-a-side rugby code... you have my total respect.
All my own work... almost.