Saturday, October 04, 2014

Early Autumn in Brighton and Hove

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there
Yes I will
You've got a friend

Carole King

Early Autumn is always a favourite time of year for me - the cusp betwixt Summer and Autumn proper when one enjoys the best of both seasons.

This year, it seems to have been particularly wonderful in Brighton and Hove, possibly because I am at home, rather than away 12 hours to 14 hours every working day on a London commute.

Indeed, I have been at home for some five months now and have not missed going into the Smoke one jot. I feel a lot closer to nature.

In the mornings, I try to go for a cycle ride along the seafront before starting my day's endeavour. I never tired of the skyscape and seascape. It is different every day and often spectacular.

I work long hours at my desk at home and, in truth, it is a struggle. When you try to find work, you realise the UK is not out of the woods of recession yet.

However, I am spurred on by the card on my wall - "A winner is just a loser who tried one more time" - and the overall improvement in my lifestyle.

Sadly, though, I have had to give up lunchtime basketball.

My knees have become a real issue and for months have woken me up at night with searing pain. The basketball - a hard contact sport - made it much worse, so now instead I cycle every day, which makes it better, and take some painkillers and sleeping pills. I hope I will not need an operation.

It is funny the things you see while cycling around, such as a little doggy at the steering wheel of a car.

My new life has allowed me to do a lot of thinking.

I want a sustainable way of working which cannot just end at any moment.

I want to be able to do work I am proud of and which I enjoy.

I want to do the sort of work my kids would be proud of.

Life may be a bunch of compromises but there comes a time when you have to put your health and sanity first.

Therefore, I have to be very careful about my next move.

It is always interesting to see people's reactions when your situation and supposed status suddenly changes for the worse.

True friends are solid and there for you; most people, however, are not seen for dust, not wanting to be infected by whatever has felled you. In this parlous and fickle world, I don't suppose one can blame them for putting self-interest first.

My partner, Laura, has been a great comfort as has Mr Cheeky.

He has become a local character in his manor, the four streets near our home.

Mr Cheeky and his dear friend Django spend a good deal of time in the local pub, entertaining the regulars.

He also likes to have a good sleep on the pub mantelpiece.

One of the regulars told me a funny story about Mr Cheeky. He said that his bedroom is on the top floor of his house and that he first made Mr Cheeky's acquaintance when he slept in one morning and awoke to find Mr Cheeky sleeping on his chest.

Mr Cheeky had apparently somehow got onto the roof of his house, jumped down onto his balcony and climbed in through the open window, before settling down for a kip on top of him.

Now he regularly enjoys tuna at his house!

Another local I also did not know came up to me in the street that said that Mr Cheeky often visited her and her small children at their home. "They absolutely adore him," she purred.

Mr Cheeky seems to have an enormous appetite and gallops everywhere, like a tiny racehorse.

He has put on some weight and matured, making more effort to avoid moving cars and generally look after his health better.

Mr Cheeky and I put a certain effort into campaigning (online) for a No vote in Scotland - to keep the Union together.

He took the name, Mr McCheeky Wilson, for the period of the campaign, producing his own manifesto to persuade wavering Scots. I like to think we did our little bit for the United Kingdom.

The McCheekster has developed a desire to go on trips in Laura's car, jumping when the window is open and making himself comfortable, sometimes falling asleep.

I was almost late for an interview the other day because of having difficulty getting him out of the back of the car.

We go to see my dad and mum every fortnight.

To be frank, Dad's condition is not good. His memory is very poor now. Real confusion has set in.

All the same, I enjoy our trips to see him and Mum. They are coping well, despite all.

My brothers also visit regularly so that there is one of us there every weekend.

Nic comes over from Ireland as often as he can and it is always good to see him.

He and his wife have taken on a dog, like their late daughter Emily always wanted.

Life is a strange, hard-to-tame beast.

You can only make the most of the cards you are dealt.

The year will go into free fall: Hallowe'en, Bonfire, Christmas, New Year, the misery of January to March. It could be tough.

I heard from my old friend, Midders, the other day. He says he has a serious health scare (the usual one), so I am hoping and praying he gets through it.

The other day, I saw a very good poster on social media. It read: "Never let the sadness of my past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present". Another one for the wall, methinks. Every moment is precious and sacred.

One piece of great news is that the Battle of Hove Park was won!

The political animal of a head teacher switched sides at the last minute in, my considered view, to save his own skin.

Hove Park School will not become a wretched Academy!

We were invited to a joyous victory celebration at comrades Natasha and Mark Steel's home.

It was great! We oldies chatted outside while the kids danced to Freebird and Let's Dance inside.

I was very impressed that the kids of today know these great classics of my era.

My moderate drinking regime is going very well. It is now 38 weeks since I last drank too much or had a hangover. Now I am in the groove, I am a truly committed moderate drinker.

Well, that's about it for now.

It is almost my bedtime. I will do the dishes, read a bit of my Saint novel (excellent bedtime reading) and get an early night.

I am off to Oxford bright and early tomorrow morning.

I just hope Mr Cheeky does not sneak into the car.

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