Day 400 – Marking milestones

It’s 400 days since SA embarked on its Coronavirus lockdown. Back then, we weren’t even allowed out of our property.
Since that day, we’ve been through two fairly horrendous waves of Covid-19, several alcohol and smoking bans, beach restrictions, economic disaster, and a stuttering, non-starting vaccination programme. Currently, our R number – marking the progress and pace (or not) of viral infections in the country – is sitting at 1.03, meaning that we’re ever so very slightly on the wrong side of where we’d like to be, but equally, that things aren’t nearly as terrible as they have been or could be. And that R number is currently being fuelled by minor outbreaks in the Northern Cape and the Free State. Touch wood, with the major centres doing ok at the moment, we’re still not seeing any sign of the expected Third Wave. Long may it continue.

Which does make one wonder why there’s still a midnight to 4am curfew.
Not that I had any plans for that particular period.
Other than sleeping.
Which is allowed.

Another milestone today: our wedding anniversary. The day each year when I sit back and reflect upon just why Mrs 6000, very much of Champions League standard, is still happily existing in my Sheffield & Hallamshire County Senior League Second Division company. I’ve no idea either, but I’m very happy that she still seems content with my muddy, clod-hopping, somewhat makeshift agricultural style. Not much skill, but a whole lot of effort. As the actress said to the Bishop.
We’re going out to celebrate at a very good restaurant this evening.
But we’ll be back before midnight, Cyril. I promise.

I have spent much of the day painting. Not in any artistic sense, more in the “I’m not old enough for this Antique Cream to seem anywhere near acceptable in my house” sense.
I’m obliterating it all with brilliant white. Or rather, I was, until I ran out of paint. Very frustrating.

Soundtrack to my endeavours was provided by The Streets. I went for their Spotify catalogue, which has loads of live stuff, remixes and collaborations. Really nice trip (no pun intended) down memory lane, and one which culminated in me singing Fit But You Know It to the somewhat bewildered beagle.

A proper highlight of a milestone day for all concerned.

Dry Your Eyes

Remember those teenage heartbreak moments?

Mike Skinner remembers those teenage heartbreak moments. Brilliantly.

This made a surprise appearance on a random iPod playlist on the way to school the other day. This morning, I pulled up in the Keystage 1 car park to drop my 7-year-old off to the dulcet tones of the Wildhearts Caffeine Bomb.

Wakey Wakey.

If I remember correctly, those soaring Dry Your Eyes strings were from a royalty free sample CD which Skinner picked up from a car-boot sale. Unbelievabeagle.

Additionally, for proper trivia buffs, it’s Brisbane Road, the Leyton Orient football ground, that he’s sitting in.
I don’t know anything about the laundrette or the swimming pool. Sorry.

Old Skool

I have been reliving the past a bit over the last day or two. These wholly unconnected events happened entirely by chance, but I felt them worth documenting because it brought back some decent memories and made me think about how my life has changed since those memories were made.

It started with a kiss an earworm: The 2002 track Stay Positive by The Streets:

I ain’t helping you climb the ladder
I’m busy climbing mine.
That’s how it’s been since the dawn of time.

that crept up on me one morning in the kitchen, like a beagle hoping for some cheese. I have no idea where it came from (the earworm, I’m all too aware of the beagle’s history), but it selected the soundtrack for the journey to and from work yesterday.

And the memories came flooding back. This was one of the albums that I used to listen to (on my minidisc player, nogal!) on the journeys from Oxford down to London to see my girlfriend (the same one what is now, happily, the long-suffering Mrs 6000). And suddenly, I was there again: back on the Oxford Tube on the M40 – weridly, very specifically at the Lewknor turn off.

At that time, I was living in Headington in Oxford with two really dodgynice… nice, but dodgy scientists. It was a bit of a lads’ house – we had standards, but if I’m completely honest, they did vary in height depending on how lazy we were feeling.
A typical evening in would be a microwave dinner, some red wine and several (or more) games of the latest FIFA release (probably 03). That is, of course, apart from Friday evenings. Friday evenings were given over to Dirty Sanchez on MTV. Now, if you haven’t heard of Dirty Sanchez, I’d advise you to carefully consider your options before looking it up. This was a UK series which took the nastiest and most dangerous bits of Jackass, and somehow made them worse. It was puerile at best, and downright offensively vulgar for the other 99% of the time. Here’s the wiki page, if you really want a starting point.

Last night, with Mrs 6000 unwell in bed, I was left to entertain myself (careful now). Ironically, it was actually as I was looking for my FIFA (15) game in the DVD drawer that I saw the 2005 box set of Series 3 of Dirty Sanchez. My fingers were pretty tired (careful now), and I was already dreading the injury news ahead of Fleetwood Town’s FA Cup first round replay with Hereford United, so the box set seemed like a good idea.
As I put it on, I was in two minds. Would I still find it funny, or had I outgrown it?
Well – maybe my results were swayed because I was consciously being analytical, but probably somewhere between the two. Not much of it made me laugh, but at the same time, I did find myself entertained. And at first, that was a bit worrying. But still quite fun – it seems that maybe I am still hanging on to a bit of my youth, and that’s no bad thing.

And then there was this morning. After an early morning trip into town to pick up some new kit (more of that to follow in due course), I found myself heading to work, breakfastless. And yes, there’s the office park canteen, but – guess what – it’s very much an office park canteen. So I made a last minute stop at the local McDonald’s drive-“thru”, and picked up the Sausage and Egg McMuffin meal that was standard for early mornings opposite the Regent Street campus of the University of Westminster (it’s still there), back in the day. It was my first one in SA, and I’ve been here nearly 12 years.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it tasted pretty much the same as it did back in the late 90’s. And that – much like musicians continuing to produce the same sort of music that made them popular – is no bad thing. It’s not going to win any Michelin stars, but it did stop me being hungry for a few hours. Job done.

The thing is, while I enjoyed being transported back to those halcyon, carefree days with their lack of responsibility and restrictions, I don’t really miss them. Sure, they were fun, but I didn’t realise back then how unfulfilling they were. That’s not my fault – things change as you get older: your needs are different, your goals aren’t the same, you need more stimulation from some things (carful now), less from others.

Put it this way, things may not be perfect right now, but me now would rather be me now than me then, if you see what I mean.

So I guess you could call that progress.

Bad News: too good

Look, I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but it’s all I’ve been listening to since I first heard it, so I’m sharing the wealth and putting it on here. The ideal way to play out the end of a long week.

Mike Skinner seems to have discovered a new talent in Elro, while further developing his relationship with Robert Harvey (Going Through Hell, Take The Long Road And Walk It) whose smooth chorus gives some breathing space amid the amazing lyrical flow of the initially somewhat bashful and apologetic rapper attempting to defend his behaviour at 200 words per minute.

You say nothing, but it’s clear to me that you’re fearing me ‘cos I’m weird, but, weird to me is not weird to you, but I accept I’m strange but the best must change, but I’m just engaged, I’m tired of games, I’m not deranged. I’m just, coming up with a new strategy to please and please hear me out, it’s beyond a doubt: I desire your effects and affections, I’m aware that the problems complex and, and I when I get to the best I can be but the best I can be doesn’t seem to fit the script and I’m less than appealing, sometimes feel there’s a mess and I’ve tested your patience; blatant, selfish acts can detract from men who mean well when there are egos attached. I can change myself, not the past.

Yeah, punctuating that was quite difficult.

Blip on a Screen

More from The Streets’ Computers and Blues (I’m going to end up putting the whole album on here if I’m not careful), and this one will strike a chord with currently expectant fathers (you know who you are) (I hope, anyway) and all those of us who have been there and done that. It’s a nervous and exciting journey.


And once again, the observations of Mike Skinner are spot on, deadly accurate. The hopes, the fears, the sudden overwhelming responsibility, the enforced introspection, the overriding uncertainty of the situation and the mammoth task that lies ahead – all bundled up in 3½ minutes of beats and poetry. Brilliant.

Early days, sure, but Computers and Blues is shaping up to be a strong contender for my album of the year. It’s certainly going to take some beating.