The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Indestructible youth?..

       I received several comments upon my whinging post of the other day and one from a friend from across the pond, Mark, gave me an inner smile as I contemplated his words.... "A friend in Missouri once told me that if we hadn't done what we did when we were younger, we wouldn't be in the shape we're in today. But hey, back then we were bulletproof."..... and cast my mind back to days when I had less fear in my life and, as many other youths still do, felt totally indestructible.

     Tis true that as a youngster I felt that I could take on the world and that  I would always come out unscathed, yet looking back this certainly was not always the case and I received more beatings than was probably healthy for me and some of the scrapes I found myself in? well I guess that I'm lucky just to be whinging about my knees as I approach my half century, although I'm sure that there is plenty of past injuries and bodily misuse awaiting to come back and bite me in the arse in the the not so far future.

     Oh and whilst I'm waffling on I lay the blame totally and one hundred percent at the feet of my father, Wooldridge senior, for many, many beatings received! Now don't ye start thinking that I had a terrible upbringing at the hands of my parents 'cause that could not be further from the truth. In fact I couldn't have wished for a better upbringing as they brought me up with unconditional love but also gave me a strong backbone with which to face the world, it's no fault of theirs that my mind fell into the dark places. But why blame my father for an above average number of beatings? Well just because of a little snippet of Wooldridge wisdom he graciously bestowed on me, the bastard. It went something like this... " Son I'm not advocating that using your fists is an answer that you should resort to but there may be times that this is unavoidable. So, if ever faced with a situation where conflict is inevitable don't be a gentleman and await the first blow, get yours in first and make it a bloody good one. Also if faced with more than one aggressor always smack the biggest one first because if he goes down then the others will be sure to hesitate in continuing with the conflict"..... oh well done dad! So now this five and a half foot tall, already instilled with a short fused temper and testosterone filled callow youth now had a set of fatherly guidelines which will be sure to keep him safe and sound, not! My then circle of friends must have loved it as we strolled drunkenly around town because if there was ever the slightest, alcohol fueled, hint of trouble yours truly would jump on the biggest bugger whilst my 'mates' either ran like school girls or at least only had normal sized opponents to face as the man mountain I'd jumped on with gay abandon proceeded to give me a severe pasting, or two!

     But in truth it is not the 'amauter light weight boxing' that took place on alcohol fueled nights out that will probably catch up with my already knackered body in the years to come but more than likely it will be the rash of road accidents that yours truly was involved in. Myself and also my brother had a reckless approach, to say the least, when it came to driving and it's a miracle that either of us are alive today to recount the tales of holed hedges and bloody trudges home to face yet another inquest by 'Ol' stringvest' after the latest encounter with unplanned 'off roading'! On reflection the one I probably was most luckiest to walk limp away from one that involved  myself, a cyclist and a bloody big wagon and I will swear to whatever gods you believe in that this particular incident was not my fault, although the police and courts deemed to take a slightly different view at the time......

     At the time I drove a silver Vauxhall Viva HC, considered by some misguided folk as the poor man's Ford Escort but I always felt that the Viva was a far superior car and if I'm ever fortunate enough to own one again as a Summer cruiser I'll jump at the chance. I swear (yes I know, all to frequently) that this modest little car just purred along and even back then the Viva was becoming a rarer sight as more modern cars were becoming available to the young men of the day. Anyways, I was heading to work in the steady flow of morning traffic approaching a recently revamped junction on the new Penyffordd bypass when up ahead I espyed a parked up New Ford Escort turbo...a distinctive car known to most whom I worked with as it was owned by a arsehole team leader in the factory. I digress, the turbo was parked just after the junction, illegally I may add, whilst the arsehole chatted away to his mate on the side. At this point the road widened with the two lanes splitting to allow oncoming traffic a lane to pull into and await an opportunity to use said junction, traffic on my side was forced into this middle section to pass the arseholes car (can't be bothered scribing it out anymore because the title is well deserved) but was moving smoothly as there was nothing oncoming that wished to use the junction. Approaching the parked up car I did the usual checks look ahead, use mirrors to check behind, signal, check again, maneuver into the 'empty' space and.....bollocks!

    Into my path a cyclist had appeared, head down, pedaling furiously away towards me a good fifteen yards on the chevrons before he hits the short slip road to turn off at the junction, illegal arsehole two I believe though at the time this thought did not pass through my startled mind it was more akin to arrgghhhhhhh!!!! I seem to recall. The only option left to me was to pull the wheel hard to the right trying to take me around the now very startled and open mouthed cyclist who'd pulled right across to my left in a vain effort to cross the road ahead of oncoming traffic, namely a silver Viva driven by me, arse! Now the poor old Viva was most definitely not a car noted for its road holding qualities especially on the then legal remould tyres of the day and due to the savage jerk upon its steering wheel the little tyke decided to slide its rear end out, you know if it had just followed my chosen direction all would have been good, and I heard the faint 'chink' of rear wing upon cycle, oops. So instead of trying trying to wrestle the car back into line I swung my head rearwards trying to spot the cyclist with attention being roughly brought back forward to the unnerving smack as the Viva clattered the far raised kerb and bounced me back into the oncoming lane just in time to see the venerable Foden logo of great British wagon building fill my vision.....bollocks!

     The next thing that I recall is reaching out and burning my hand upon the engine block of my beloved Viva, no I hadn't lifted the bonnet to check the oil, the engine block was happily sitting next to me where the passenger seat used to be, there was to be no quick getaway from this one I mused. An odd thought you may ask when I'm pleading innocence in this incident but the truth is I'd written several cars off before this happened all down to my fault so running from accidents had become a little bit of a habit at the time. A group of concerned folk had gathered around and helped me out of the mangled wreckage, thinking more clearly now I headed towards where an even larger group of people had gathered around a rather prone cyclist. Have to admit that my legs then failed me and I slumped onto the grass verge awaiting an ambulance and the inevitable sirens of police cars. 

     The first ambulance whisked the cyclist away which was fair enough then the second to arrive took the bloody wagon driver away as he was already complaining of neck pains! Neck bloody pains? It took his unladen wagon more distance to come to a halt than an fully laden ocean going tanker would need, his bloody skid marks didn't start until twenty yards after the point of impact and he's already trying to lay the groundwork for his insurance claim? Bastard. So I finally get my lift to the hospital in the ambulance and the questions about what hurts are fired at me. Well for a start my left foot feels like it's on fire with shooting pains lancing up my leg to my groin and I've got a headache too, bless. After cutting my trainer off the medic informed me that two of my toes were badly dislocated and also a rib had popped out, not too bad then me thinks. At this point my headache was really becoming annoying and seemed concentrated above my right eye so I did what came naturally and poked it with my finger. The medic's face changed from apathy to perhaps mild concern at this moment as he gently pulled my hand and its pokey finger away being as my finger had gone in a good half an inch farther than what a normal skull should allow, " guess you may have fractured your skull young man", well thank you Einstein.

     So finally arriving at the hospital  the ambulances' medic's diagnoses are confirmed by doctors and the like. Cheerfully I'm told that my head will just have to heal on its own (still got a slight dent), the popped rib? well we could bind it but it'll not make much difference so we won't bother (still raised), but the toes that are pointing over ninety degrees to wrong way we can fix them but by Christ it's going hurt, great. I find myself now stretched out in a hospital gown, very fetching, whilst the Paki doc attempts to examine and then rectify my by now screaming in searing agony toes.

     Whoaa, stop the press, did John just use the word 'Paki' then, is John some kind of racist zealot determined to stamp out all lesser beings.....err no. But I do admit using the word 'Paki' to describe the very nice doctor as much as I would use the word Aussie for an Australian, Brit for a British person, Yank for our American cousins, Paddy or Mic for an Irishman, Lass for an attractive woman, Scot for a Scottish man, idiot for a football fan, Taffy for a fellow Welshman (or sheep shagger upon occasion) and so forth. It's not racist it is my vocabulary and being the man I am I'll not be changing it to suit some peoples idea of political correctness, nor will I apologies for the use of such words because I do not use them as derogatory nor to insult, they are descriptive tools that my already meagre grasp of the English language that I require to describe things. Yes I could have just said doctor but by saying Paki the picture is completer, rightly or wrongly. Oh and one other thing why do so many people deride colored folk without even knowing them personally and then spend thousands of pounds to sit under a hot foreign sun to get a tan so making their skin darker? beats me.

    So the very nice Paki doctor informs that I won't need sedation as this will take but a second and the pain will be minimal....wrong! As soon as he laid his hands on my foot the pain was unbearable and it was obvious that something was going to have to be administered to assist the process. We'll give you a local anesthetic he quietly informed me, to which I shakily replied couldn't you just knock me out 'cause I don't think that'll work either? Local anesthetic administered and suitable time allowed for it to take effect once more the doc attempts to lay hands on my foot to find it snatched from his grasp a couple of times."Now don't be such a baby" he chides, to which I replied "Just knock me out cause that is just too much pain for me", reassuringly smiling he cobra like grasped my foot and proceeded to wrench away at my poor toes to which my knee jerk reaction was kick out with my other leg...bugger. The sight of the non plussed doc rising from the floor over the foot of the bed won't be easily forgotten. The little bugger was still smiling as he regained his glasses from the side of his face "we'll be knocking you out Mr. Wooldridge then".....

      I come to in the ward as the surrounding privacy curtains are pulled aside feeling slightly spaced out to say the least. The nurses do their final checks and leave me be to recover. Left to my own devices now I glance over to the bed upon my right hand side to be greeted by the sight of a middle aged man whose face is heavily bandaged, almost like it had come into contact with a hard surface at speed.... taking no notice of a little warning voice I asked him what had happened? He managed to mumble something about being knocked off his bike this morning, " was it a silver car by any chance I asked innocently?", to which he barely managed to nod his head....warning voice John, warning voice getting louder..." it was me" I cheerfully informed him, and that's when the trouble started........

       Five months down the line and in spite of a bundle of evidence to the contrary the whole sorry episode was deemed by the laziest of police work and a courtroom that was probably late for lunch to be entirely my fault and I ended up with a bloody ridiculous fine and a six month ban from driving being as this latest escapaide took my points well over the limit. Had to laugh though, my father accompanied me to the courts and all morning whilst we awaited my turn kept drilling into me the need for respect, to speak clearly and to stick to the truth. Damn thing as the penalties were being read out, head now bowed, all I could hear was my father's booming voice from the rear of the courtroom "call this effing justice you corrupt bastards" and that was the nicest thing he had to say. Needless to say he was eventually escorted out and ended up with his own fine, served him right for his snippet of wisdom regards hitting the biggest bugger first, could've told me that running away like a big girls blouse was another option couldn't he?

     Not really sure of the point of this tale, though I hope you enjoyed it if you got this far.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Have I mentioned my knees.....

     I arose from the pit this morning with more aches and pains in areas that should not really ache or give pain at all. Oh and regarding my mental state I would not go as far as to say that I am suicidal or for that matter being dragged down by the Dog of Black but by Christ I'm a right miserable bugger lately! Everything just seems to be too much of a bloody effort of late, only God knows what the effing hell is the matter with me. 

      Absolutely sod all seems to be going right at the moment. For instance, about a month or so ago I decided that I've been a fat bastard now for long enough and that it was about high time that I got my lardy arse off the sofa and did something about it. My first step was one of immense, even though I do say so myself, sensibleness with me going to the local nurse and getting myself MOT'd, so to speak. Well I am approaching the half century in years next birthday so I thought it would be a damned fine idea to ensure my aging body could cope with trying to regain a small modicom of fitness. So I allow myself to be prodded and pulled, weighed and measured and God knows how many blood samples taken and then, when my results returned, told that yep you're a fat bastard and your cholesterol is mucho higho, bugger! Oh alright the charming nurse didn't exactly put it across in those terms but that was the general gist of the conversation. But I remained positive as things could have been a damn sight worse m'thinks, so armed with a plethora of diet sheets and a referral to the local gym I set off with enthusiasm in my quest for the fountain of youth, or the dribble of reasonable healthy middle age at least. 

      Did I mention my Knees and how they have started to hurt like hell of late? Probably brought on by years of crawling under broken machinery and now exaggerated by the fact that I am a fat bastard! No? oh well never mind, perhaps I will later, anyways back to the plot, well as close to a plot as this whinging, rambling and moaning post could be that is. Anyways, did I mention that I hate gyms? The whole idea of been stuck in a sweaty room full of ' the beautiful people' whilst gasping for any spare molecule of oxygen my decrepit body screams out for as I pound away at the monotony of fixed bikes, treadmills, waterless rowing machines and cross trainers appeals to me less than being tarred and feathered and placed upon a medieval rack whilst having hot needles pushed under my fingernails and being forced to listen to Barry bloody Manilow! No? well thats how I felt when told to get my fat arse down there, the damn thing is though after the first few sessions I started feeling a buzz after the hours torture and actually found myself looking forward to it, especially as scales and the fit of my clothes began to tell me that progress indeed was being made. No longer did I consider my jeans as a set of cheese slicers awaiting to leave a red welt around my midriff, oh indeed not they were fast becoming something that fit and felt comfortable once more. Did I mention my knees? yes? well the bastards have rebelled and now I'm having to give the gym a miss because of them, the selfish bastards! Don't they realise that if they didn't have to carry so much lard they would feel so much better? selfish bastards!

    Then there's the diet sheets, cheese is out, white bread? nope, and just about everything else that gives me the pleasure of mastication has been suspended for the time being, bollocks! And yes I did say mastication although I'm beginning to get the feeling that even the simple pleasure of masterbation may well be taken away from me at this rate!

     Ah but there's always gentle walks with the Bear across gentile hills or smooth forest trails I hear you say, though then again I get so many bloody voices in my head these days it is difficult to know which ones are telling the truth. Thing is about said trails is that I love walking them whilst Bear zig zags away, quartering the area ahead as her deep down instincts compel her to do so, but the miserable little bitch has now come into season so I dare not risk her being impregnated by some shell suit wearing scouser's Pit Bull called 'Axe' whilst they're out on their Bear Grylls inspired yearly pilgrimage to the undiscovered wilderness that is the Welsh hills. Don't get me wrong, at least they do take their dog out once a year whilst braving the outdoors in the most unsuitable clothing ever imaginable, for Christ's sake I've even seen their 'moll' dressed up to the nines in high effing heels walking up Moel Famau! So yes they are at least trying to get 'out there', (very bloody trying indeed). Oh and did I mention my knees and the excruciating agony they subject me too if I even dare think about a gradient of more than one in a thousand? selfish bastards that they are, so now I'm subjected to dreary short walks on tarred paths around the local village. Oh and have you seen the bleedin state of the footpaths around here? there are more holes in them than a sieve that has been riddled by a tommy gun! Everytime I drag the Bear out, she hates the lead by the way, I end up jarring my knees countless times in these craters or having them twisted against their normal action of operation as Bear surges off at stupid angles just because she thinks something smells nice on that lamp post we passed ten yards back, the bitch.

     So I thinks to myself I'll put some bird feeders up, after all if my knees won't let me get to nature I'll get nature to come to me. So now, at no small expense might I say, there is an assortment of tempting feeders there awaiting a myriad of feathered visitors to lighten my mood and lift my spirits, yes? No, all I've had so far is two Jackdaws and a bloody rat hanging on for grim life to my luxury sun flower heart feeder which now sports the latest in rodent improvements because that the furry little bastard has chewed a effing big hole in it, bollocks!

     So this morning, on my second day recovery from the grind, I really could not be arsed in getting up to face the world. So I fed n watered Bear, made a brew and then preceded to feel sorry for myself and deliberate as to whether I could face another bloody bowl of cardboard Musli. I did consider taking a walk down a canal tow path but I'd probably only fall in, betrayed by my knees, and drown, entangled in an abandoned shopping trolley whilst the heavens opened and it pissed down and Bear takes no notice because she's sniffing at something disgusting again. Have I mentioned my knees........


Friday, 14 November 2014

At the dogs......

     It must be over thirty odd years since I have been to the dogs, and before yea start associating this post with le chien noir let me reassure you that these canine tales could not be further from my tales of an unhinged mind and a drowning soul. But in a way the Black dog is responsible for my forthcoming tales of ' At the dogs...' that will sometimes frequent these hallowed pages I scribe as the memories of the dogs came flooding back just the other week when visiting me mum and dad. They always inquire about my state of mind and worry far too much over my health, but that's parents I guess. They keep me informed of my brother's and sister's goings on but recently talk of my brother is somewhat strained between us as they see him as their son and as such forgive him all, as they do me, yet I have come to see him as something else, something estranged and lost to me. But maybe that will be a tale for more sombre times. These days, after the ritual of making sure that I am still just about sane, the conversation primarily falls to times past when the Wooldridge clan's worries seemed few and far between and that is how the subject of going the the dogs, 'flapping tracks' and of skullduggery arose. If ye have not already guessed the subject of  these soon to be forthcoming tales then I shall ease your suspense and tell you that it is the subject of greyhound racing to which I refer.

     Indeed for many years the Wooldridge clan were somewhat noteworthy and , dare I say, notorious in the greyhound racing fraternity of the North West of England. Our greyhounds raced at exotic locations such as Chester, Oldham, Bolton, Chesterfield and Winsford to name but a few. The majority of these tracks were flapping tracks, that is to say privately run tracks and not the glamorous arenas  to be seen upon the television upon occasion, where there was a semblance of civility presented to the viewing public. Oh no indeed, for the flapping tracks were where all the least desired of human 'virtues' such as greed, lies, cheating, dishonesty and sometimes violence shone out and were just part and parcel of 'going to the dogs'. So how did a basically honest family with a strong code of right and wrong thrive in such company without succumbing to these low virtues? I guess it came down to strength of character as well as physical strength plus a little devilment that seems to run through the Wooldridge blood. So hopefully my next few posts will enlighten you and provide even a wry smile or two as your education on the subject of 'the dogs' continues.....

Until the next time, take care....