Okay, some of you have been groaning at the tardiness of the blog yet again. I can only apologize yet again.
There is a reason this time and believe it or not, it’s because. I’ve been writing. Yep. Surprised? Me too! Having not written a screenplay for nearly three years (due primarily to a family illness) I have now taken up the pen again, or I should say the keyboard. It was quite a shock even to me. I didn’t think I’d write another screenplay, but oh well, it’s what I do I guess.
So, I apologize for being slow, but I was trying to make a living and as I haven’t made a bean for over four years – man, I need to.
Also, you’ll have to indulge me a little further here, because after 118 glorious, frustrating, heartbreaking, fabulously happy years at White Hart Lane, my beloved Spurs have played their last game on that hallowed ground and in that iconic stadium designed by Mr. Leitch
I was born within the sound of the stadium’s roar and was taken to my first game by my dad, aged just four. I’ll never quite understand fans that don’t support a team from their place of birth or the area of their early years. I remember my first game well. We sat in the North stand and climbed the dark stairs from the concourse. Suddenly, I was greeted by the huge expanse of green grass bathed in yellow sunlight. It felt like I had walked into a rainbow. I’ll never ever forget the feeling seeing the pitch for the first time gave me.
We played Preston North End and won 5-nil.
As I got older, my dad built a stool for me to stand on in the Paxton Road end, allowing me to see over the wall and watch the game. All us little kids were sent down the front and we met up with our parents, mainly dad’s, after the game. Can you imagine that happening today? Social services would have us taken into care in a heartbeat. The really great thing was if you were small enough to duck under the turnstiles, you got in for free. No one cared, the flat-capped turnstile operators certainly didn’t, it was just the way it was.
I was right there when Dave Mackay, our team captain, stepped over the wall into the crowd, and with a clenched fist, invited a supporter who had given him hell throughout the match to meet him after the game because he had something he wanted to give him. Then, looking around at us youngsters all wondering what he was going to give the man, Mackay explained that he had an ‘Easter egg’ for him. Ha-ha, I doubt if that supporter ever went to collect that ‘Easter egg,’ Mackay was a fearsome man not to be messed with.
I remember well, getting up at 3 am and camping out with my dad, lined up around the stadium to buy FA Cup tickets and getting them from a little wooden window in the ticket office in what is now Bill Nicholson Way.
And, then there were the times that my rich, great-uncle lent us his season tickets – we felt like movie stars, sitting high in the West stand and looking down on the pitch.
I remember the scarf my sister Sue knitted for me in 1967 for when the open top bus drove past right by our home. She sewed in all the players names, Jennings, Knowles, Kinnear, Mullery, England, Mackay, Robinson, Gilzean, Saul, Venables, Robinson, and, of course, the incredible Jimmy Greaves. That scarf was my pride and joy.
And then, I remember taking my son to his first game and watching him have all the same emotions that I had as a boy. But by this time we had the jumbotrons and later on, he was able to see his name up in lights on his birthdays. And now he’s old enough to take me… haha.
I know it’s hard for some people to understand a supporter’s love for his team, but Spurs are part of my family, it means that much. And I am just one of the many old geezers that are spread around the world, who have taken a moment to remember their own stories and times at the N17 stadium. But then it is more than just a stadium it is a part of the very fabric of my life.
Before the goodbye celebrations took place they showed a film in the stadium presented by director Sir Kenneth Branagh. It was about the team’s history. The picture to the left is a frame from that film. My dad and I made the banner you can see hanging over the railings. I was 6-years-old. Okay, dad made most of it, but I helped tie it up for sure. See, it is the very fabric of my life! That was the maisonettes that I grew up in. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see it in the film and I know my dad, wherever he is now, would also be very proud and smiling broadly.
We won the game 2-1. And as if by magic the rainbow I talked about walking into for my first game, also appeared as we bade farewell to White Hart Lane. I know we are moving just a few hundred yards, but the ghosts in the walls, Billy Nic, Sir Alf, Jimmy Dimmock, Ted Ditchburn, Sonny Walters, Danny Blanchflower, Ron Henry, Len Duquemin and John White, will now be released and never again will we hear the deafening sound of stamping feet that made the rafters shudder as we sang out our songs.
Recently, I heard from a friend who wrote, “I hope you’re well and better than you sound in your blog.” It suddenly occurred to me that maybe I’m sounding terribly depressed in my musings. I thought long and hard about this and the truth is…. I am friggin depressed! And no I don’t feel better than I sound!
I’m heading towards 60, people and that is not fun people!
Stop telling me that 60 is the new 40. NO, it’s not. It’s 60! It’s almost 21900 days old and I am not happy about it.
Stop telling to enjoy my life and get over it. No, I won’t!
Stop telling to do things to enhance my life. You are missing the point. I have no life, my knees are shot, my back aches, my mind is on the way out, my body makes weird noises I can’t explain, and I can’t remember the names of my children never mind people I’m supposed to be friends with.
The truth has hit home. I’m never going to play for my beloved Spurs. I’m too old to play decent tennis. It’s too late to learn the piano. Okay, I could probably type out a dislocated version of Claire du Lune, but I’m never going to bash out a selection of Beethoven’s greatest hits, am I? I won’t get to dance on Strictly. I’ll never shoot under par again. And I doubt if I’ll ever date anyone who has all of her own teeth again, OR that can come out on a date not wearing a bra without people thinking… “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that.”
Life at this end of the spectrum is shit and anyone who tells you it isn’t, is lying!
The only thing that makes me happy now is being a granddad. Now, there’s a friggin oxymoron if ever there was one. Or is it a contradiction in terms? I’m never sure which is which.
From now on, I’ll have to put up with people patronizing me. Oh, you climbed your own Everest, at your age, well done. Well, actually, it wasn’t Everest, it was Snowdon, and I didn’t conquer the North face, I went up on the Mountain Railway, but yes, well done me for still breathing, old fuck that I am.
Oh, you ran a half marathon, well done you at your age. Well, actually, I just did a shop in Sainsbury’s. I look like I’ve run a half marathon because I’m so knackered. Lifting those beers in and out of the trolley is tiring work, you know.
Oh, look you’ve still got hair, at your age, how do you do that? I tell you how — fuck off and leave me alone, that’s how I! I don’t want people telling how well I’ve done or how good I look for my age – I don’t want to be my age.
All I’ve got to look forward to now is bowls. And let’s be honest white has never been a colour old folk should wear. If the beetroot stains don’t ruin the ensemble the urine leakage is bound to.
One of my best friends recently turned 60, we’ve been pals for 30 years. Remarkably, it hasn’t affected him at all. He has settled into his 60th year with consummate ease. But then, to be fair, he’s an actor/writer/director so he has spent half of his adult life lying on the couch shouting at the television. So, he’s had a lot of practice at being old. Okay, the rest of his life was pretty industrious, being a successful director, but still, he’s embraced being sixty without any major trauma. I wish I could do that. I’m telling you now. I won’t be able to.
Latterly, I dread every new day because it moves me closer to the precipice of old age.
Once upon a time, I saw each new day as a new opportunity, a new challenge. Write a script, start a company, develop an idea. Now, I just see every day as a new part of me that doesn’t work properly anymore. I used to wake up every morning and feel a certain part of my body because I was young and horny. Now I wake up and feel any part of my body to make sure I’m still alive and being grateful that I made it through another night.
Seriously, I never checked my teeth in the mirror when I was young. I would just brush them and leave the bathroom, but now, I examine my gums to see how far they’ve receded while I was asleep and I give every molar and incisor a gentle squeeze – rocking them back and forth, expecting at least one to fall out.
I never looked into the toilet bowl before; I just did my business and got the hell out of there. Now, I’ve I don’t have pictures in my bathroom, I’ve got a Pantone colour chart pinned to the wall so I can compare the hue of my pee. Then I can see what stage the terminal illness, that the media tell me, that my age, I must have, is at. I won’t even mention measuring the poop, to see if it’s the proper shape, size, colour and has the right floatability.
Once upon a time, the only time I felt dizzy and faint was after 6 pints of lager, now I only have to get up out of the chair too quickly to experience exactly the same effect.
Getting old sucks! Why am I the only one being truthful about this? Everyone else, the world is in denial. I think the government is behind it… secretly telling us to try new things in the hope that a few of us will fall off mountains, crash to the ground while free-falling, or get eaten alive while swimming with sharks. It’s the only way they can kill us off – we are so many now.
I’ve discovered that there are two in-between ages to life — that horrid time between being a teenager and adult and a hateful time between being an adult and a pensioner. And there are many similarities between the two.
As a teenager, you think about sex all the time but can’t get it. Snap on that one.
As a teenager, adults tell you to grow up and stop looking so scruffy when you wear ripped jeans. When you’re my age and wear ripped jeans your grown-up children tell you to grow up and stop looking like a dork.
When you’re young you want to drive a sports car, but can’t afford one. When you’re old you want to drive a sports car, but can’t bend down to get in one.
Okay, I get that when I am truly old, I’ll just have to accept it. But by then my mind will have gone… so it won’t matter. And I understand that there is a group, mainly women, who believe that old age is the best time of their lives. But that’s because you’ve spent your entire life picking up after kids and cooking for a no good, lazy, ‘won’t do nothing round the house’ husband. You feel liberated because you don’t have to cook five different meals a day, or clean house, sort laundry, and tend the old man’s animalistic needs anymore.
Let me tell you, you could have felt just as liberated had you kicked the kids and your bone idle, lay-about husband out twenty years ago. Now, you are just old and liberated. All you’ve got to look forward to now is the WI, making jam, and crocheting doilies.
Twenty years ago you could have skied down the piste with the cold chilled breeze tickling your cheeks or quaffed champagne with a handsome devil on his boat, or just being downright naughty and climbed trees knickerless. Now, if you get helped up a tree you could use your knickers to parachute safely down.
People pretend that with age comes a new freedom. Wrong! The only new things that come with age are hips, knees, and unexplained bodily noises.
My advice to anyone in their 30’s, don’t let a mobility scooter be the only scooter you drive in life. Get on a Vespa and take a ride on the twisting, winding roads of life. Feel that wind on your face while you’re still young enough to enjoy it and it doesn’t make you breathless.
I’m a writer, not a particularly successful one, I admit. I’ve written a couple of films, a few plays, I do
the odd bit of script doctoring, copywriting, gag writing, speech writing, and blogging.
Anyone who knows any writer will identify that the go-to staple of the struggling scribe is caffeine. Not your skinny non-fat, triple, venti, extra dry, caramel macchiato, no. The writer survives, nay; thrives on the hard stuff – a no fuss, no frills, black filter coffee. The type cowboys brewed in a pot dangled over the campfire in all the best Western movies, pouring themselves a last tasteful memorable tin-cupful before heading into town to gunfight the desperadoes.
Forget your fancy Americano and don’t you dare add cow’s udder juice. Filter coffee is just the slow drip garnered from ground Arabica beans soaked with boiling water.
No discerning writer would sit at a keyboard without first putting on a pot of coffee. It’s his crutch in times of need, bridging the gaps in the brain’s synapses that cause writer’s block. While fags and booze create the obvious detrimental problems, all the scientists can say about coffees side effects is it stains your Hampstead’s.
The other aid to a writer’s creativity is ambiance. An occasional change of environment can inspire new ideas.
Enter the coffee shop!
Some of the best television and films has been created, written and honed under the influence of a mug of coffee. The aroma alone acts as a suppressant for neurotic, stressed writer, neutering his inventiveness as a mother breast comforts the hungry infant. Writers would have caffeine pumped through their veins intravenously if they were able or it was legal. In fact, IV stations dotted around coffee shops, not unlike the electric charging bays we now find front and centre of most car parks, is a cool idea and would compliment the Vape trend nicely.
These java emporiums, way before they offered the added incentive of free Wi-Fi, have been my office for as long as I care to remember. My daughter insists I was a digital nomad before the term was coined and long before today’s digital nomads were born. I’ve squeezed myself into LA’s coffeehouses crammed full of writers pounding their keyboards. I’ve shuffled around New York’s bustling, noisy coffee joints trying to grab a table and I’ve hung out in the laid-back hipness of Shoreditch’s coffee bars, but like most writers, I have a guilty Starbucks secret.
While the early-morning work-bound proletariat throng into the coffee shops like drone bees paying homage to their Queen, and coughing up through their noses for the privilege of ordering cappuccino’s, latte’s and Mocha’s, we, the writers, you can’t miss us, we’re the round-shouldered, troubled-looking freaks in the corner, doubled over a MacBook pro and talking to ourselves, we don’t pay £3.35 for a fashionable cup of air and foam. We pay a £1.00 for a cup of good old- fashioned filter java. It’s there for anyone to enjoy, all you have to do is ask. But most going into a coffee shop are scared of the dizzying array of options on offer and pick the first coffee style on the menu that they can actually pronounce. Then stay with that style for the rest of their lives because they know what to ask for and if they becoming a regular, any barista worth his weight will know their order, short cutting the inordinate length of time they have to wait for a brew.
But the poor old writer and most are poor, can’t afford to drink a latte-darte-macho-flippotinos, not when they’re drinking anything up to 8 cups a day, they can’t. But a £1.00, even for the hardest up of writers is a great deal, especially while enjoying free electricity.
Writers charge up all their electronic devices, phones, iPads, and even they’re electric razors in coffee shops. It’s cheaper than staying home and trying to write your latest barnstormer. You only have to check out the stampede for the seat next to the plug sockets as soon as one becomes vacant, to see that’s the truth. It’s the hottest chair in town.
Also, in coffee shops, writers don’t have the added distraction of daytime TV. Nothing deadens the creative process like Loose Women or that little bald, fraudsters chasing Dominic bloke.
I mention Starbuck and not the various other high street chains because Starbucks offers the cup of coffee for a £1.00 deal. That’s even cheaper than a leaky pot of pensioner’s tea in Morrison’s.
So, you can imagine my disdain, no my despair, when this morning at 6:30 am, I stood at the counter, ordered my small filter coffee and handed over my £1, only to be told that the cost had gone up by 25pence. How can this be, 25% in one foul swoop?
There must be laws against this type of profiteering. A hike like that on a BMW 118i 5-Door Sports Hatch would add £6150 to the price or add £150 to the cost of iPhone 7. Surely causing a public outcry.
When I last looked the rate of inflation was at 2.3%. This I could live with, I wouldn’t like it, but I’d accept it. In the grand scheme of things even for ease of accounting, if they added a walloping 5%, I could still probably cope, but 25% is just taking the macchiato, I’m afraid.
Brexit is blamed for a raft of economic pressures, but coffee beans come from Costa Rica, Colombia, and Kenya. They’re not Europe, are they?
I wonder is it a coincidence that the rise in price follows on no more than a day after the LA writers strike was staved off with the writers now getting a better deal for their musings. Did some sweaty exec in the Seattle organization see a chance to stealthily hit writers where it hurts and relieve them of the few pence they have just been gifted? Did Hollywood producers giveth and Howard Shultz taketh away?
I’m boycotting Starbucks. Now, where else can I charge this electric toothbrush?
Some of you may have seen the blog http://jennifersweete.com/loose-screw/ which commented on how funny I am. Clearly, Ms. Sweete had been at the bottle, I’m assuming she’s a bit of a boozer, but like any creative, I’ll take all the plaudits wherever I can get them. Although, I did receive a message from her husband, who assured me that all was well in the Sweete household and I got the impression that not a drop had been touched when his missus was actually rolling on the floor laughing at my blog. So, would you look at that? Seems I am a funny guy after all. Who knew?