We just lost to Man Utd at Old Trafford, a few hours ago, so I’m not in the best of moods and the black cloud shall doubtless remain all evening. I hate that football has such a deep effect on me, that 22 overpaid, overindulged and underworked blokes kicking a ball around a piece of grass, can actually determine whether or not I’m nice to the next person I meet. It makes no sense. Thankfully, I don’t plan on leaving the apartment until the snow-that-hasn’t-arrived-yet, has melted, so this part of the city, at least, is safe.
After the high-speed calorie crash that was Christmas and New Year, plus the back giving out, I finally made it back to Collegiate Debtors Prison last Monday. Dad dropped me at Edge Hill Gulag For The Great Unwashed, from where I revved up the walking sticks and spangled my way the mile and a half back home. That afternoon, I was expecting a delivery from a well-known purveyor of groceries, for whom I’d done a ‘secret shop’, but nothing arrived, and I had no other food in the house. With the walk I’d done earlier, the back was beyond sore, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it out again, so there was only one thing for it. Pizza. First day back on the diet wagon, and I was already out of control.
I fought and fought it, seriously I did, but until someone invents Dial-A-Stir-Fry, it was either Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s or Kebabs ‘R’ Us. Domino’s won, but only because I had a voucher, and I did go for the healthy option – single mozzarella – although someone needs to have a word with their webmaster, because telling us how many calories there are in one slice of Pepperoni Passion before we order it, does not help. It would be better to just say ‘Lots’, instead of the actual figure (269, in case you were wondering), otherwise they’re going to lose customers. Well, those customers who actually have other food alternatives in their cupboards.
So, 10 slices down, and I was satiated, yet full of self-loathing. No matter. Monday just didn’t happen, is the best way to look at it.
Tuesday and, yay, the shopping arrived. Turns out I have a defunct intercom, and the retailer in question had my old phone number. Which wasn’t the case for Domino’s, THANK GOD. And there’s me wondering why all the death threats have suddenly stopped arriving. Those poor old creditors have been standing in the cold and wet outside, pressing buttons-to-nowhere, what a great, great pity…
So, newly loaded up with 16 chicken fillets, 15 sauces, oodles of noodles, and enough fruit to start a plantation, I locked the door and got back ‘on it’. Just three days of being back in my own (hard) bed, and my back had improved markedly. I still made sure to go out for a hobble around the various beauty spots of Everton, to keep things oiled and working, and I was even diligent enough to keep procrastination down to a minimum. The only stumbling block, I knew, would come later in the week when ‘The Germans’ were coming over to visit.
‘The Germans’ are a fine group of young men from Leverkusen, with whom the gang made friends in 2005, when we played Bayer in the first knockout round of our most recent victorious European campaign. Despite their own loss, Ulli (who runs the Bayer supporter’s club) and his friends welcomed the visiting Scousers like true gents, and a friendship was forged that is still going strong. Every year, they come over here, usually during the Bundesliga winter break, and our lot go over there, at a random time of year. I didn’t invade the party until a year or so ago, when they were over for the Stoke game (0-0). Later, we went over to Duesseldorf (just down the road from Leverkusen), and took in the Bayer v Moenchengladbach clash. This weekend, they were over again, but unfortunately the fixture list didn’t play nicely. With Man Utd tickets obviously at a premium, they were forced to revert to Plan B – Everton v Swansea on Saturday (also 0-0). None of us were remotely inclined to accompany them, not even with the tickets on sale at “Buy 1, Get 15 Free”, so Friday was the designated ‘day out’.
Before the pub, I took advantage of a Christmas voucher and a 25% discount at T&G, to go and get the hair chopped again. After three tries since September, from ‘top’ hairdressers, none of whom did exactly what I wanted, I went with a trainee this time, mainly because she was all I could afford. For a fraction of the price of the others, she absolutely nailed it. Thank you, Monique, at Toni & Guy Whitechapel. You will go on to great things.
So, I fully intended to stay out for, at the most, two hours. I still wasn’t confident on my feet, and I had a ridiculous deadline to work to. So sure was I, that I’d be home at a decent hour, I even took a chicken fillet out to defrost on the side, all ready for when I returned at 6 o’clock sharp.
At 1.30am, I fell out of the taxi, and bumped into Chris from downstairs, who had locked himself out of the building. Again. The last time I saw Chris, was on my 40th birthday last July, also around 1.30am, and also because he’d locked himself out. That time, I ended up drinking his hidden champagne stash, that he and his girlfriend were supposed to be saving for their engagement party. This time, it was 14 Kronenbourg from the BP garage, and improvised karaoke. When I eventually got to bed, around 6am, I kind of knew I’d cocked things up a little.
The only thing I was capable of, Saturday, was dragging myself onto the scales to look, through squinting eyes, if there was any possibility at all that I’d lost even a skin cell of weight. Imagine my shock then, when after three goes to make sure there was no mistake, I saw a loss of 6lbs staring back at me. Obviously, Kronenbourg is a wonder-food. I then went back to bed for seven hours, only emerging to cook the defrosted chicken from Friday, before it erupted in salmonella.
Because I don’t have any plans this week that involve being naughty, that means that, by next Saturday, I should have lost another two or three stone.
The Only Thing I’ve (Re) Learned This Week
1. The British media are weak-willed, embarrassing excuses for journalists
Actually, I already knew this, but the amount of bile being spouted about Luis Suarez this week has been just disgraceful. Sure, I’m biased, but even if you remove my partisanship, the facts clearly speak for themselves. Against Mansfield Town, Luis handled the ball in the course of scoring. He knew it, everyone watching knew it and, as it turned out, the officials knew it. He even walked the ball over the line, evidently expecting the ref/linesman/tea lady to disallow it. But the goal stood. On the touchline, Brendan Rodgers immediately said to the fourth official “was that handball?”, and the official said it was, but that it “wasn’t deliberate”, which is why the the goal was given. Ten seconds that has spawned a week-long, tabloid frenzy of a witch-hunt, against a player who can’t even breathe without being accused of nicking someone else’s oxygen. For sports journalists, it’s cowardly, very easy to do, and utterly spineless. I know I’m a writer, but I’m nothing like them, and I never will be.
The ‘fault’, if that’s the right word, is clearly with the officials, not with Luis Suarez. Was Luis seriously supposed to go and beg Andre Marriner not to give the goal, in the spirit of “sportsmanship” – which seems to be the press’s favourite word this week? As for the extra ‘controversy’ surrounding Suarez’s goal celebration, when he kissed his arm, there’s absolutely nothing controversial about it. That’s what he does, every time he scores. And the so-called journalists who have been trying to stir it up all week, know that. If they didn’t, then they have no place writing about football.
It was Marriner who decided to allow the goal, but the press won’t go to town on him, because Suarez is the easier target. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a world where people think for themselves or can form their own opinions. Instead, they prefer some arsewipe from a red top to do their thinking for them. Luis Suarez has become the most controversial player in the Premiership, not because he actually is, but because it gives Sky Sports pun-dicks and ESPN has-beens, a chance to spend an extra hour pontificating on the side of a football pitch, about absolutely nothing at all. Yes, Kevin Keegan, I mean you. Your hypocrisy, last Sunday, was staggering. And most of the brain-dead viewers listening to these idiots, will take their words as fact, because it’s telly, innit? The same people can also vote and breed. And if that doesn’t scare the s**t out of you, then it should.
Just in case the journos are a bit gutted today, because Suarez didn’t do anything at Old Trafford that they could turn into a week’s worth of non-stories, they could always do a retrospective on 9/11. It’s the only thing he hasn’t been blamed for. Yet.
Things I’m Dreading This Week
1. The snow
I normally love snow, but with a bad back and dodgy balance, if it does snow, it’s going to be tough getting to the shops. And if I want to stay on track, diet-wise, then I have to go shopping every other day, for the fresh stuff. Ice would be worse, though, obviously. I bought myself some ice cleats for my shoes, a couple of weeks ago, when it was really, really mild. I left them at mum’s. And they’re in Lanzarote all week. D’oh.
2. Losing my mojo
It’s going to be a heavy week and I need to be on tip top form, with minimal Pet Rescue Saga ‘breaks’ and no idling on the interweb. I need to clear 10 hours a day for the next 7 days, without fail. It’s going to be great for the diet, not so great for my deepening psychosis. So I’m going to need help. If you see me ‘hanging out’ online at all this week, tell me to get lost, or just don’t speak to me. Pretend I’m that really crap rounders player who no-one wants on their team, and don’t want to make eye-contact with (which obviously never happened in real life, as I was s**t hot…). Just shun me. Shun me totally. Make me a pariah!
This Week I’ve Mostly Been Watching…
1. The Amazing Race Season 17
Gotta have my fix. I was so down when Dan and D**khead won the last one, I just had to get straight onto the next, to make the pain go away. Five episodes in, and we’ve just lost the pre-requisite blonde beach volleyball players. My money’s on the two doctors, Nat and Kat (can you see what they did there?), although my favourites to watch, are Nick and Vicki, who are both, well, thick. Even in the first leg, the basics are just too much for them. The first stop was London, then everyone had to drive themselves to Stonehenge (“it’s sooo ahhh-sum!”), then Eastnor Castle (“it’s even more ahhh-sum!”). I know they don’t have roundabouts in the US but, seriously, you’d think they’d just been dropped off on the Moon. And they had to drive “stick shifts”, which is surely illegal if you don’t have a manual licence. These people had never even seen a “stick” before, never mind know how to use it. But the best bit was watching Nick and Vicki at the top of the castle (“the ahhh-summest yet!”). The clue said “Take a flag from one of the battlements and take it to the lake.” Both Nick and Vicki, bless them, started approaching random people, asking them “Are you a battlement? Do you have a flag for us? Where’s the battlement? How are we supposed to know which of these people is the battlement? What’s a battlement?”. All this, bearing in mind they are stood on the battlements, surrounded by huge flags. Then, when they miraculously finished ahead of another team, our Phil welcomed them to Eastnor Castle and Nick was asked “Which country are you in, do you know?”, to which Nick replied, “London?”
I don’t want this season to end.
2. Person Of Interest
My next box set, recommended by my friend, Dave. It’s about an ex-Special Forces wash-up (stay with me…), called John Reese, who’s dropped out of society, still traumatised by the death of his girlfriend on 9/11 (I think he was with someone he shouldn’t have been with, at the time…), and has spent the last decade living on the streets in a really bad black wig and a velcro beard. Anyway, a mysterious computer genius billionaire comes along and recruits him to save people from crimes before they happen. After 9/11, the billionaire constructed a computer that could analyse footage from all the CCTV cameras in America (or something) and, in so doing, interpret the behaviour of people and thus ‘predict’ when a certain person is about to become involved in a crime, either as victim or perpetrator – the computer isn’t clever enough to know which. It’s Reese’s job to save the victim before the crime happens, the idea being that this is how Reese will find redemption for his own sins, by helping save the lives of others. Obviously, there are holes galore, but the premise is interesting to keep me there for now. Another bonus, is that Jim Caviezel is extremely easy on the eye, so regardless of the ropey dialogue and plot spoon-feeding (which sometimes gives CSI a run for it’s money in the ‘How To Patronise Viewers’ stakes…), I’m definitely in for the whole of season 1, at least, if only to see Mr C take his shirt off multiple times in 42 minutes.
3. The Cleaner
I had to have a hiatus from this as it takes a while to download, reason being nobody else in the world is watching it, so there are no seeds or leechers to feed off. Again, it’s pure indulgence TV, and nothing that’s going to win awards, but at least Ben Bratt’s beard isn’t velcro.
The Stats Bit:
Month 1: 8.75lbs
Month 2: 5.25lbs
Month 3: 1lb
Month 4: 0.5lbs
Weeks 17-18 (Christmas & NY!) – plus 3.5lbs
Week 19: 6lbs
Total after 143 days: 18lbs