Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Cat on the Bonnet

It was cold this morning leaving my flat, probably any other flat would have been the same. And the cat was sat on my car bonnet, keen not to be disturbed.

I said hello, and he/she said nothing. He/she/it is a cat, but still they could have made the effort. “You’re gonna have to move, I need to go to work.” I stated shrugging apologetically.

Maybe the cat didn’t understand me, maybe because it’s a cat, but that excuse was wearing thin. A push of the button on my key and the locks unlocked and finally the cat stirred, stretching like a cat does. A slow rotation of its head, and the cat’s eyes made the welcome effort of catching mine. With a confused and irritated cat like look, it asked me what I thought I was doing.

“Get off my car, I have to drive to work.”

The unimpressed cat looked unimpressed and told me how unimpressed it was. “I’m unimpressed” it said.

“Why are you unimpressed?”, I said talking to a cat.

Carefully, with the speed of a sleepy cat, the sleepy cat rose to its feet and sat down upright on the cold bonnet surveying the countless parked cars parked on the street in which it mainly slept. “Why do you have to use this one, there’s all those other ones I’m not resting on.”

“You wouldn’t understand, you’re a cat.”, and I sat down in the drivers seat and started the engine.

The cat stood and looked at me through the windscreen. “I will leave this car now. Not because I want to, and not because you want me to, but because I have a dignity as a cat that you as not a cat will never understand or enjoy.”

“Get the f*** off my car!”, I shouted beeping the horn; and slowly the cat dismounted and wandered off to find a Vauxhall.

Monday, February 20, 2006

At Least with Tennis You Use a Racquet

“Football’s just eleven men running around a field chasing a white sphere, what‘s interesting about that?”, she said reading an article about Posh Spice’s breasts.

“It’s not eleven men, it’s twenty two men as there‘s two teams. Then of course there’s the referee, who doesn’t specifically chase the ball but has to remain in its approximate vicinity.” I replied boring even myself.

“It’s not as if there’s any real point to it.”, she continued flicking the page over to an article on coloured contact lenses. “I mean at least with tennis you use a racquet.” I ignored this comment, partly because I was sure I saw the point in football, and partly because I didn’t understand the relevance of the racquet.

And a couple of days later I settled down in the pub to watch the not so mighty Southampton take on a team, though not as mighty as a mighty team, considerably higher up the ladder of mightiness than Southampton; who‘s position on the mighty ladder is at the bottom holding it while every other team climbs up. The whistle blew, and the game started.

Southampton attacked, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement. Matt Oakley (Southampton midfielder) held onto the ball for what I felt was too long. “Pass it!”, I screamed at the television assuming it was fitted with a microphone that would relay my message to the relevant party. Oakley was easily tackled and my suspicions that no direct method of communication existed between me in a pub in Bristol and players on a pitch in Southampton was given more credence.

I sat back down, jiggling my feet, ready to shout again. Then I moved the pint glass to my lips, drank a little, and flicked my eyes back up to the screen and I saw it for the first time. Football really is just twenty-two men chasing a white sphere around a field. I glanced around the room; a hundred people sitting in smoke, inhibiting their higher brain functions with fermented chemical shite.

I put down my beer. I saw the Emperor’s New Clothes fade away leaving an ugly fat spotty truth. There’s a billion billion planets in the universe and the only one I can see is just a small spot of light in the night sky.

Then Southampton got the ball. Dyer had it on the edge of the area, he paused. “Shoot” I shouted, “Hit it!”. He was soon tackled and I held my head in my hands, picked up my pint and thought about what could have been.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Blood-Mobile comes to Work

There's always a moment of pride. The Iron content test. Before you go into the main session they take you aside into a little room prick your finger and extract a drop of blood in a little transparent straw-like thing. This drop of blood is then dropped into the test-tube, and the nurse times the amount of time it takes to reach the bottom of the test tube.

My drops of blood throughout my doning career have always performed incredibly well, thrashing the specified time-limit.. The various nurses have always exclaimed or faked a slightly surprised compliment as it bangs into the bottom of the tube such as "Well there's definitely no problem there" or "That was very quick.". I always try to look like I'm not bothered by their praise, not surprised by this further indication of me possibly being a close relation of God or Daley Thompson. But a little self-satisfied grin is always bubbling just under the surface.

All was going as normal, and a single drop of my championship blood was dropped into the test-tube by a nurse I'd never seen before. Down it went, with speed and with grace. I looked on proudly, then up to the nurse, who quickly glanced at the test-tube then back to her notes. "Just hold that over your finger while I get a plaster" she said and then with the plaster on, "If you'd like to come with me Mr Gracie."

"What?" I said unable to hide my outrage at her apathy to my Premier League blood drop performance.

"You can come through now." She said slightly raising her eyebrows.


"Is there a problem Mr...ehhhh?" she said walking out into the main doning area so all my work colleagues could hear, then she looked at me with a ’It’s ok to be scared of the needle, you don’t have to go through with it look’

“No, I’m definitely not scared of the needle, I was just disappointed with your reaction to my excellent Iron test result” is what I, thank god, stopped myself from staying instead I went, a little too enthusiastically, with “No I’m fine.”

An elder colleague was on the bed opposite, “It’s ok”, he nodded, “it doesn’t really hurt.”
“I know,” I replied ,”This is my fifteenth time.”

“Well this is my forty second time, but who’s counting” replied, a man who was clearly counting, but was annoyed at my overly short and sharp answer.

“I didn’t mean that was anything special, I just…..” and a new nurse arrived before I could dig myself further in yet another hole. I was relieved she hadn’t brought me over the cuddly blood toy.

“Hi, I’ve never inserted the needle before, do you mind if I…?”

I looked around, caught the eye of 42-times-Bob, who smiled at me in a ‘you aren’t scared are you manner?’

“Not a problem”, I nod and as she calls over another nurse to supervise. I can’t watch, I stare out of the window, and watch a bird peck at Vauxhall Corsa while they take the blood away