Friday, 8 January 2010

Passing the time

Saturday 9 January – Dronfield Town (home) Match postponed

I’m getting a bit fed up of this now. Even before today's lunchtime confirmation, the weekend fixtures were already doomed thanks to this seemingly never-ending “cawd” snap. Snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain and ice, lots and lots of bloody ice; it’s starting to really p___ me off!
The front cover of Issue 13 of ‘The East Ender’ is therefore about to undergo a third makeover, with all references to Dronfield being replaced by Phoenix Sports & Social, our next “scheduled” opponents. Thankfully, the lack of action involving our three teams means most of the stuff originally typed with Thorne Colliery in mind remains relevant…just!
And it’s not just the matches that are being lost. Sunday’s scheduled meeting for clubs involved in the CML Bonanza has been put back a week, while the league’s Mid-Season Meeting, due for Monday week in Glapwell, has also been postponed with no new date as yet arranged.
You may notice that I’ve recently added several more links to the side toolbar. One of them, local journalist/playwright Dave Windass’s “Killing Time” blog, is not only rapidly becoming something of a favourite but has also given me much-needed inspiration.
In his first post of the New Year Dave revealed he has set himself some “reading targets” so as to “fill in the missing gaps in my literary knowledge and atone for my reluctance…to read from the prescribed canon.” This set me thinking along similar lines.
Not that I’m talking books. That would be a task for which my chances of success would be on a par with all the other “fads” embarked upon at this time of year i.e. abandoned within days/weeks.
It’s a sad fact that I have no self-discipline at all when it comes to reading matter (even getting through The Daily Telegraph ranks as an achievement – usually there’s a pile of three or four still demanding my attention by the time Saturday’s supplement-filled edition arrives).
Therefore you won’t be surprised to learn that I currently have five books on the go, all at various stages of completion. (The figure was actually six up until the week before Christmas but, having originally bought “An Ordinary Soldier” by Doug Beattie MC as a 2008 Christmas present for Dad I decided I'd "whizz through it" myself first...and eventually crawled over the finishing line just in time to re-wrap it for his birthday this year - on 22 December!)
Of those remaining part-read, “Royal Flash” (the second instalment of George MacDonald Fraser’s twelve-volume Flashman series, which I bought as a complete set about three years ago) is the one nearest to a finish…although I don’t think I’ve read a page since March! Nick Hornby’s third novel, “How To Be Good”, Max Arthur’s “Forgotten Voices Of The Great War” and Major-General Julian Thompson’s “Dunkirk – Retreat To Victory” are all at various stages of completion.
Meanwhile the list omits those abandoned halfway through, in a sort of I’ll-come-back-to-you-when-I’ve-got-a-minute kind of way: “Wick To Wembley” (Andy Ollerenshaw), Michael Vaughan’s “Calling The Shots” , “Never Had It So Good – A History Of Britain From Suez To The Beatles” (Dominic Sandbrook) and the current Non-League Club Directory 2010.  Indeed Vaughan’s autobiography has been gathering dust for so long that he’s written another volume in the meantime – which really is no way at all to treat one of my all-time sporting heroes.
Oh, nearly forgot. Tomorrow sees my daughter’s dance class resume, which usually allows me chance for a coffee and a read while I wait for her. I’m currently halfway through “The India Rubber Man”, David Bond’s biography of legendary Hull City keeper Billy Bly…

My problem is that I’m a sucker for a new title. No sooner have I started a book than my eye (and credit card) spies another. One door opens as another shuts. Hence our bookcase strains under the weight of the unread titles.
Not all my books get abandoned part-way through. 2009’s completion list included Robert Lyman’s gripping account of “The Longest Siege: Tobruk – The Battle That Saved North Africa”, the equally enthralling “Aden Insurgency: The Savage War In South Arabia 1962-67” by Jonathan Walker and Pete Davies’ brilliant World Cup memoir, “All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia 90”.  Plus the Saul David trio of Victorian Era military history ("The Indian Mutiny 1857", "Zulu: The Heroism & Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879" & "Victoria's Wars - The Rise Of Empire") were real "can't put 'em down" jobs.
Before that there was Stephen Brumwell’s “White Devil” (the story of the raid that inspired ‘The Last of the Mohicans’), Mark Nicol's uncomfortable Iraq account "Last Round", David Downing’s “The Best of Enemies: England v Germany”, Richard Holmes’ biography of “Wellington” and Peter Guralnick’s seminal “Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm & Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom”. Eleven books in nearly four years; that’s not a great strike-rate!

My better half, Mrs Slush, is just the opposite. She goes through books quicker than I can get through a nice New World Shiraz. Almost. Ominously, one of her more recent titles was “13 Ways To Murder Your Husband”, while she is about to embark upon the Alistair McGowan/Roni Ancona collaboration: “A Matter of Life and Death or How To Wean A Man Off Football”.  Hmm.
So, unlike Mr Windass, I won’t even bother to set my self a reading list. However, his post of 2 January has inspired me to do something similar, something I’ve been meaning to get round to for some time. In a task which is being recorded on my other blog, I aim to re-visit the contents of my entire music collection with the aim of testing out the late John Peel’s oft-aired theory that the effect of doing so can be the same as when hearing those same sounds for the first time.
Perhaps I ought to apply the same method to reading books, would at least kill time while there's nothing else doing…

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