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Friday, 17 May 2013

Chapter 13 - A story about Wigan Athletic and a band called Shockabuku

So here we are again! In this chapter I’m going to try and fill in the last couple of weeks and hopefully write my first “normal” entry since before chapter 9. I’m even going to fill in the gap of what I was doing the weekend before that chapter. I also promise that as I said in my Bieber interlude / rant last week – there will be no further mentions of Bieber. So without further ado – let’s get started…..

The Cast List
Toby and Vicky Cowe
The first couple to leave me responsible for their wedding reception entertainment – I’ve known Toby and Vicky now for a number of years. Toby spent a lot of time growing up in the same place as me – but I never came across him (I don’t think) at that stage in my life. No - I met Toby on one of my first visits to Cheltenham at a gig for his brother’s band Shockabuku (more of them to follow at some point I’m sure).  Many years (and a worrying number of games of drinking Scrabble later) Toby is one of my closest and faithful friends. He is also a genius that is paid to invent stuff for a living. I still remember the first time that Toby told about this amazing girl that he had met – Vicky. As he spoke about her – even in those first moments – you could tell that in a way she had captured him. And I’m so pleased that she did – because Vicky is so much fun to be around. She’s blunt, funny, an amazing mum, compassionate and a great friend to both Cass and I.

Matt Chandler
Matt is another ex member of Shockabuku as well as being an ex housemate to both me and Toby (at different points). Matt now lives in the “hippy” part of Bristol and is engaged to Josie.
No matter what is going on in my life – it’s always great to know that I can always call or go and see Matt. He is a music snob (and he wont mind me saying that) but I give him a bit of grace with that as he is a really talented musician (and in a very clever link you can check out his stuff here).
I’ve known Matt now for about 10 years and in that time I think he has made me laugh (whether meaning to or not) more than anyone else. He’s a great friend and I’m really lucky to have him as part of my life.

Joe Newlan

I’ve known Joe for about 5 years (since he started working in my office at the age of 16) and it’s fair to say that I am immensely proud of the man that he has become. However, whilst Joe is a wise head on young shoulders – he also has a habit of being a cheeky little scamp and when mischief happens – Joe will be in very close vicinity. Above all that though Joe is great to have around and he has a heart of gold (he also looks suspiciously like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory). He’s kind and selfless and cares so much about others that you wonder how someone so young has grown up to have such a big heart.

Jo and James Montague
Jo and James are also both now part of the “Andi has known me for more than 10 years” club (they have also had the added "benefit"  of having had me as a youth leader). Jo plans weddings for a living and James works on a “helpdesk” (apparently IT helpdesks are not like the IT crowd? – or at least so James says…..). James is a man of great integrity and Jo has such kindness in her heart that it is completely inspiring. She also has an infectious laugh – as well as a beautiful voice. 

At my sisters wedding a number of years ago, Wifey and I were on the same table as Jo and James. After a few alcoholic beverages over the course of the meal I bet James £5 that he couldn’t eat 4 portions of Crème Brulee. I lost the bet that evening but losing £5 was worth it because of the reaction that James had to such an obscene amount of sugar. His pupils became tiny and his face went white – but he kept going because he was committed and determined. I have never seen anyone look so ill in my entire life – but then with his winnings he bought me a beer! What a Gent!

The weekend before Chapter 9……
The Saturday before chapter 9 I jumped on a train with Toby and headed down to see Matt Chandler in very soggy Brizzle. After getting off the train at the right place – we then asked someone which platform our next train was going to be on. We went to that platform and got on the first train that came along (which time-wise was correct with what we already knew about the train times).
What we didn’t know however was at that moment local Bristol trains were delayed - and we ended up jumping on a train back to the station that we had previously passed. (Sidenote…Dear National Rail – would it really be so much hassle for you to install screens at stations telling people where trains are going or if trains are delayed?) We got off the train and decided to walk as Toby was convinced that a taxi would drive past and we could flag it down (I just wanted to call a taxi….)
Needless to say that an uncomfortable hour’s walk later (uncomfortable because A] I was wearing a Bristol City scarf and walking through Bristol Rovers territory at stadium kicking out time and B] I had eaten chilli beans on toast and the after effects were beginning to take hold) we arrived at Matt’s house (actually in good spirits despite the sogginess). In answer to your inevitable question…yes taxi’s had passed us on our epic journey however Toby wasn’t quite as good at flagging them down as he thought…….

That evening Matt, Toby and I ventured into the hippyland that is near Matt’s house for a curry and a few beers. We then went round to a couple’s house to play some poker. At this point I should point out that I am an immensely frustrating poker player. Toby does not like playing with me because after playing for a while – I’ll just start making silly bets. Do I have a poker face? Probably not – but because the bets I make are so stupid - people back off for a while….or at least they do for a while before they start calling my bluff (at which point I obviously start losing). That evening was no different. In something that should be no great surprise to anyone…..I lost.

It was a really surprising night because it wasn’t at all what I expected. I remember thinking back to all of the crazy nights that the 3 of us had together and some part of me was expecting something along those lines (although I don’t know how any of us would have coped with one of those hangovers with our increased age). But the night that we had together was perfect – and it actually ended up giving us a much better chance to catch up than sitting in a loud pub not being able to hear each other (Please note that for the record I’m not at the age yet where there is anything wrong with a loud pub – but for this night it wouldn’t have been right….). It was one of those random nights that just turned out to be great. It also proved to me the theory that doing stuff is so much better with friends around. I had such a great time!
When the events of Chapter 9 started two days later – I spoke to Matt and Toby very early on because they were still very much in my mind from the weekend. I knew that they were thinking about Wifey and me and that they would be there for us throughout what we were going through (along with so many others). I’ve said it before – but one of the signs of a good friend is that they have your back when times are hard – they aren’t just there when it’s an easy ride. Toby and Matt are great friends. And it was great (and very timely) to have a reminder of that just before I needed them.

Friday 3rd May – Tuesday 7th May
We’d been looking forward to bank holiday weekend for a while as it was a great chance to catch up with some friends and family. Friday saw us having a takeaway with the Chatfields and the Cowes and guiding a takeaway driver to the Cowes new house (no mean feat when you realise that the Cowes have moved into a beautiful yet un-satnavable new pad).
On the Saturday (aside from all of the May the fourth be with you Facebook messages) we journeyed down to High Wycombe to spend the weekend with my sister, her husband and the twins. We even took the twins out for their first trip shopping! On the Sunday morning, I was invited back to the Church where I’d been a few weeks ago – Micklefield Elim – and once again I received such a lovely welcome and had a great time. On the Sunday afternoon I popped next door to the pub to watch the Arsenal game whilst the girls watched some form of girly entertainment. We scored in the first minute. And after that the colour I would use to describe the game would be beige….
The next day we went over to Aylesbury to hang out with my cousin, his wife and their littlebots. We had a picnic – which was fantastic even though I realised on the way over that I actually don’t like picnics. In truth – I don’t even like eating outside – so why I suggested having a picnic is a bit confusing…but anyway…It was really nice - especially after spending time with them before so recently. On the Tuesday night, Joe and Howson came round for a BBQ on THE night of British summer. I made fire. I burnt stuff and grew mesmerised as per usual by the growing flames…. We played cards and I had my first cider day of the year (normally happens around the first day that it is acceptable to be in a beer garden….). All in all – it was a great end to a long and fantastic weekend. Oh and to the driver who went into the back of us on the Headington roundabout and then drove off without even saying sorry or checking that we were ok (we are fine and very grateful that is the case)….I forgive you and Jesus loves you. But you are an asshat. That is all.

The Next Weekend….
The next weekend (or last weekend for those on date watch) was a weekend spent in the shire. I went to the Holy House on Friday night for a karaoke party (yes – us Smileys can also have fun) and then had a great day the next day with Wifey just chilling out together and celebrating Wigan’s FA Cup win over (soon to be doomed through financial fair play) Man Citeh. I spent the majority of Sunday at church with a break for lunch with Wifey (and with Jo and James as they had come up to play Seek His Face with me in the evening). Yet again I was amazed at people coming together from different churches. I know that I shouldn’t be surprised – but there seems to be more politics between churches in our area than in the actual government – so I’m happy to see that in our generation those walls are beginning to be broken down. It was another amazing weekend.

Tuesday 14th May
Arsenal won (good news), but it condemned Wigan to relegation meaning that Wigan fans (like my dad) had experienced the complete roller coaster ride of emotions in the last week. Don’t get me wrong – it was great that Arsenal won. But it was quite bittersweet as I wish it had condemned someone else (like Stoke) to relegation instead. Let’s face it. There is the beautiful game and at the other end of the spectrum there is Stoke. I can think of no better advert for the Premier League than sending the team who play the worst and least attractive form of football through the Premier League trapdoor. Maybe it would be better if every football fan could just vote Stoke out of the league instead…..

And that my friends…pretty much brings you up to date with what I’ve been up to. I’ve got something else to mention next week that I’ve missed out along the way but bar that I think we are there. I’ve caught up. Admittedly it has been at the expense of telling you about my resolutions – but I figure that I’m actually going to tell you about two of them next week (and that means that I’m ACTUALLY going to tell what two of them are……) What I do want to leave you with though is this. Imagine if we decided on our Prime Minister like this……

10 Resolutions will return next week with a selection of your questions and a run down and my thoughts on what I’ve been watching at the big screen. I’ll also be taking recommendations for what to do with my time after the football season has finished….If you’ve got a question that you’d like to ask – please ask away on the Facebook page, or over email. It can be about anything that you could ever imagine so please feel free to be random if you want. Finally – can I just say thank you all so much for your support for 10 Resolutions and please keep on sharing it around and getting others involved. I’d also like to do a guest spot in a few weeks about other people’s new years resolutions…so if you’d like to get involved…please give me a shout! Right – I’m off to watch some 8 out of 10 cats with Howson and to dispose of the beans on toast I consumed earlier. Until next time.

God Bless


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