Deferred gratification

I know.
IOU 2 blogs.
The non-existent dog might have eaten my Whitehawk blog…OR more likely the trixy and uncooperative Cotswolds wifi intervened and then once back in the civilised world of internet connection the world of work thoughtlessly took over. So hush now, sit back and enjoy two blogs for the click of one.

Bob Ralph the Builder

My Grandad wasn’t that much of a football fan. He was a builder by trade, one half of the mighty two man band that was Newman Brothers, jointly owned with his brother Eric. They were old skool, working on site with brick dust encrusted shirt and tie, hard hat eschewed (BOOM!) in favour of the flat cap, with a small pencil wedged behind the ear. Suckers of teeth, occasional tramplers of flower beds and scaffolding supremoes. Were they good builders? Couldn’t attempt a tripadviser styley review me having been a whippersnapper when they were building things, but my mum’s house hasn’t fallen down yet so they must have been alright.

Anyway even though the football wouldn’t have interested him I think a trip to Whitewhawk might just have appealed. Consisting as it does of a sloping pitch (more from left to right than one goal to the other), a big grass bank and two main stands which are largely well….scaffolding. Even its name has a touch of the builders about it; ‘The Enclosed Ground’. The ‘Out of the bloomin way and even when you are off the bus, it’s a bit of a walk Ground’ would be more accurate.

He liked a train journey too and so I think he would have joined us, Brighton being, for those of you less than intimate with the joys of Thameslink a handily direct journey from St Albans. It takes a mere two hours or to put it another way, two cans of Amstel outward bound and three pints of Stella on the return leg (I’d got into my stride by then).

He also liked a drink (preferably someone else’s) and would I am sure have enjoyed the liquid refreshment, bonhomie and company of Julie and also her husband and youngest son who, when they are not being very good company, are what is commonly known as the Hemel Scum (THS). THS were going somewhere that involved a change of Haywards Heath, further details were not required.

We weren’t really enjoying the football so I doubt he would have but he had a sense of humour and so would have appreciated the baiting of Whitehawk’s keeper and also the haranguing of the dog walker who chose to swerve the £12 entry fee by ‘walking his dog’ on the grassy bank that counts as the fourth stand.

The goal when it came was a cracker, sadly Saints couldn’t capitalise on that and an injury time left us all feeling a bit flat. My Grandad probably wouldn’t have noticed; he’d have been examining the quality of their scaffolding – each to their own.

Grassy bank - dog walker not included

Grassy bank – dog walker not included

Can she build it? Yes she can Fox

Dingle Belles

While I am generally a pretty FFZ-averse kind of a TLF, there are some weekends when it is an acceptable state of affairs.

The annual Green Room Committee weekend away falls into this category. Long term followers will know the drill – 8 wimmin, one large cottage, hot tub in the garden, excess supply of cake, cheese, snackage &booze; SCD, a classic film and one country walk to ease the guilt of the excess. This was year Severrnnnn and the GRC found itself spending a fantastic long weekend at the Dingle, in Great Rollright (Cameron country – we didn’t bump into him; probably for the best).

Truth is there is a simple but winning formula that ensures a good time is had by all and TLF likes to think that one or two football managers could learn a few things from us:

If it ain’t broke….other than a yearly change of venue and the introduction of the hot tub element in 2013 the weekends follow the same pattern and everyone keeps coming back for more.

A regular squad. While there are the occasional absences down to unforeseen events it’s the same squad, year in year out. The formation may change, i.e who snags the double room to themselves but other than that, the personnel remain the same.

A simple game plan that the team understand and adhere to – Arrive, explore, talk, drink, It takes 2, eat, sleep. Tea/coffee, talk, hot tub, talk, pub lunch, shop, drink, talk, Strictly, eat, drink, watch film, bad dancing impressions (optional), drink, talk, sleep. Repeat previous day but replace pub lunch with big walk, a roast dinner and Strictly Results show. Come home and start to agree a date for next year’s shenanigans.

Open communication within the squad – When the question asked by Lisa (resident qualified massage specialist), “You’ve all got the same tight spot in the shoulder. What does that say?” Prompts the response from Maria, “It says shut the f#ck up.” Lisa takes it on the chin and we get to watch Strictly in peace – no harm done.

Clearly defined roles – TLF will be the one getting angsty when a further pot of coffee is proposed, thereby further delaying Satday’s pub lunch. Deborah will be the coffee police keeping a close eye on coffee strength.. Lisa & Marina will spend longer in the hot tub than anyone else. Everyone will at some point lose their glasses/phone/iPad.

A strict nutrition and refuelling regime – small intake but often. And while the occasional vegetable or piece of fruit is to be encouraged they need to be at all times preceded or followed by salty snackage, cake based products, wine or tea (early grey if you insist…or as TLF describes it ‘perfume in a cup’).

OK so all of the above might not help them win the Premier League or keep the Chairman happy…but they might not look so miserable on MOTD.

(Better late than never)

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