Did you know that [counter] people have been having a skeg at my little autonomous region?


Abide With Me


Bloody Nora, there’s less than a week to go to my fast approaching actual amazing Andean adventure! This time next week I’ll be close to the end of my five and a half hour wait between flights at Madrid airport. I suppose I’d better get some Euro in to finance whatever I decide to do to kill time. So what are the Spanish words for Ginster’s pasty? 

Today I travelled to two care homes, one for elderly people and one for the physically disabled. I’m working on Monday too, despite it being a public holiday. I bet you think I’m a loony! I must admit, there is no worse noise in the world than the sound of a Saturday morning alarm clock going off but sometimes you’ve got to bite the bullshit and toddle off to earn a shilling, even when the entire population of the rest of the country are drinking tea in their dressing gowns, watching Soccer A.M. and scratching their arses or elbows because they are so relaxed that they don’t know what else to do to fill their day. 

I quite enjoyed myself at work today though because I worked with people who don’t put on airs and graces, who have reached a stage in their lives where political and religious beliefs are immaterial, who really don’t care which team wins the UEFA Champions’ League, who demonstrate no prejudice of colour, creed or sexuality, who don’t know or care who Boris Johnson is, and who just want to have a bit of a giggle, a cup of tea and reassurance that Mabel in the room next door hasn’t stolen their Werther’s Originals. It often doesn’t seem like work and the fact that I can enjoy myself whilst gathering in a few more quid to pay for another trip to somewhere foreign and exotic really makes the whole thing seem frightfully worthwhile. 

I try talking to these lovely people about my travels but, quite understandably, very little of what I say actually registers with them. Dear old Dorothy today didn’t know where her dentures were, let alone Peru. She does have a tale to tell though. Go and read her blog. It’s at www.dotty.dot.com. She also subscribes to a company that delivers drawing puzzles to her front door . . . it's called Dot to Dot to Dot . . . and I bet you can't guess what their website is called.

I’m sure I’ve said before that I have always loved travelling but in the last five years or so it has become an obsession. It is my hobby and my love, I suppose you could say. When I am not actually travelling I’m looking for bargain travel deals on the internet, reading books about other far away countries, dreaming of deserts and jungles, getting hot under the collar as I look at glossy photographs of Judith Chalmers, or talking to people I know about their travels. You only have to go on one unusual holiday (and I don’t mean the six weeks I spent in Ramsgate in 1971) to earn a reputation for being a bit of a wanderer and having people wanting to talk to you about their own trips. And I love it. I absolutely love hearing about other people’s holidays, even if they have been to places that I would never dream of going to (like Ramsgate). 

The people I know locally who enjoy their wandering and the people I have met on my own adventures, who keep I keep in touch with, are a constant source of entertainment for me. Today my friend Aileen, who I met on my Cuba trip a year ago, posted on Facebook her photographs of a cycling trip she’s just returned from in Indo China. . . cementing that particular journey firmly at the top of my ‘where to go next’ list. I have two friends called Andrea. One Andrea, who I met on that same trip to Cuba, has flown off today to do a cycling tour of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and the other Andrea has just got back from a trip to Florida’s Everglades. The second Andrea had an amazing tale to tell of a smoke filled cabin on a Boeing 747 which had to return to Gatwick fifteen minutes after take off, crash land on the runway and then evacuate all its passengers in a massive hurry to the extent that broken bones were suffered by many as they reached the bottom of the escape chute and hit the tarmac. Fascinating, but I wouldn’t book up to experience the experience myself. 

So I like my friend Andrea No.1 because she’s very funny and travels to far flung places. And I like my friend Andrea No.2 because she’s also quite funny and very interested in what I get up to when I’m not chopping bits off people’s feet and she has a touch of wanderlust in her too. But which Andrea is the better? There’s only one way to find out . . . FIGHT!!! 

If I had possession over F.A. Cup Final day then Chelsea wouldn’t have won the cup this evening . . . grrrrr! But I don’t want to bang on about the top flight football of today in its fat, bloated, soon to become extinct state. I want to bang on about the football of forty years ago. Forty years ago tomorrow, Leeds United beat Arsenal one nil in the one hundredth F.A. Cup Final. 

I watched the match on television. Don Revie, the legendary manager who turned ordinary, struggling to survive Leeds United into Glory Glory Leeds United changed their strip to an all white one so that they would always be instantly recognisable on our black and white telly. 

I watched the build up from the moment the sun rose in the East Leeds sky. I watched interviews with the players’ wives. I watched a fly on the wall documentary about what the players had for their breakfasts and who ironed Jack Charlton’s lucky underpants on important match days. I watched ‘It’s a Cup Final Knock Out’ presented by Uncle Eddie Waring and Stuart Hall. I watched an hour long programme called ‘The Road to Wembley’ which wasn’t about a road at all. I watched the Empire Stadium fill up with fans from both sides and the singing of the Cup Final hymn Abide With Me which, despite my fear of hymns and anything else of a religious nature, always makes my eyes moisten. It’s a funny old name for a hymn if you think about it because ‘abide’ means to put up with, as if they were asking everyone who didn’t like football and who had just happened to turn up at Wembley that day to bear with them for ninety minutes until it was all over and they could start enjoying themselves. 

I watched what, on reflection, was a pretty dull match as blood spurted from the wounds at the ends of my digits where my fingernails used to be. I watched the superb heading power of Allan Clarke as he scored the winning goal. I watched Norman Hunter help Mick Jones with his dislocated elbow go up to collect his winner’s medal long after everyone else had done because his injury had immobilised him at the end of the game. I watched Don Revie hugging Billy Bremner hugging the trophy as I watched Billy Bremner grin with pleasure and pride as I grinned with pleasure and pride myself. I watched my beloved Leeds United team and fans celebrating like they had never celebrated before. Forty years ago tomorrow! 

And then at about 5.20 p.m. I set off to do my first day’s work in my first ever job. The manager of R.S. McColl’s paper shop in Seacroft Town Centre screamed at me for being late. One of the other paper boys had done my round as well as his own so I became surplus to requirements on the first ever day of my first ever job. What a girly ponce that paper boy must have been for not wallowing in the Cup Final glory that had gripped the whole of our city. I was lucky . . . I didn’t get the sack because there was a labour shortage on the council estates of northern cities in 1972 when David Cameron was only five years old. I carried on in that job for six whole months until I was head hunted by the proprietors of a nearby frozen food shop. I was also lucky because there hadn't been a need to play extra time in the match. Had I turned up an extra half hour late there would have been no one there at all to scream at me and my whole weekend of F.A. Cup happiness would have been tainted by the fear of what would happen when, and if, I ever did return to the premises of my employer.

And, with the exception of three gloomy days in August 1979 (which I’m rather proud of as I can say I was on the dole in Thatcher’s Britain, even if only temporarily) I have constantly remained in gainful employment ever since. I have been a worker since that fateful day, forty years ago tomorrow! 

In my working life the word career has been more of a verb than a noun and, as I sit here tonight reminiscing over four decades I can’t help but be amazed at how my day to day duties have changed in that time. What next I wonder? And whereabouts in Cuzco will I find the Job Centre?

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