Monday, 30 June 2014

Social Pariahs

Hell, being a yogurt eater is such hard work these days, we’re like social pariahs. It’s so annoying that since the yogurt ban came in, you’re not even allowed to eat yogurt inside rented accommodation. I was just out on the balcony now, eating a yogurt, and people were just giving me dirty looks.
In theory I like the yogurt ban, it has certainly improved public places, do you remember before it everyone was eating yogurts at their desks? It was horrible, especially for the non-eater, so even if you didn't eat yogurt you still went home smelling of it. It would get on your clothes, in your hair and god know what harm secondary yogurt eating did to your health. But I don’t understand why the ban extends to rented accommodation.
It’s such a pain having to go outside every time you fancy a yogurt. I'm lucky I only eat one a day okay sometimes maybe two but some of my friends eat much more and so they’re forever nipping out for a yogurt.
Not so bad now in the summer of course but in the winter it’s a right pain in the neck, putting on your coat and gloves just to have a yogurt.
The worst thing is having to make conversation with other yogurt eaters. Look mate just because we share the same vice doesn’t mean you can engage me with your narrow minded little Englander views. Leave me to eat my yogurt in peace.
People tell me I should give up yogurts all together but you know that is easier said than done, I have tried but each time I just end up having the odd one again and before I know it I’m back to being an eater.

Apparently you can get electronic yogurts now, but I’m not so sure they are any better really, who's to say they don't have dangerous toxins. So, I'll keep eating my yogurt out on the balcony like the good law abiding citizen that I am.

Friday, 27 June 2014


Another long summer’s day stretched out in front of me, it was only the start of the summer holidays and the weather forecasters had already promised no clouds until September. Back then, Barry was magical in the summer, the green grass of Romilly Park, the funfair, the sea, and of course the Knap Lido. But it was Romilly Park where Jo, Oscar and I spent our days, sitting in the shelter, making dams in the streams or robbing apples from the orchard; one girl two boys, the best company anyone could hope for. Jo was all skin and bone, blind as a bat, with big, glasses one lens much thicker than the other. She was soon to be beautiful, but back then she was just our mate. Oscar was not the brightest boy, he was never going to trouble Mensa, but his heart was in the right place and he was as strong as the incredible hunk. And then there was me, shy, nervous, only 14 but a silver streak in my hair already. I didn’t know it then but that day was the day that would change our lives forever. It was the day that Oscar and I discovered women. Well one woman in particular, Maria.

We always got to the park before Jo, it gave us chance to kick a ball around or play some cricket, things girls didn’t do in those days. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw Jo approaching with someone else. That wasn’t in the rules, it was meant to be the three of us, no interlopers, no strangers.
But as she got closer our jaws dropped for a different reason. The girl by Jo’s side was the most beautiful thing we’d ever seen, a bonny lass, blonde, blue eyes, a pale face, she could have been a doll.
‘Hi boys this is Maria, her parents have gone on a cruise so she’s staying with us a few days.’
Both Oscar and I stood motionless staring at the angel put in front of us. If we’d never believed in god before that day or after, for that few moments we certainly did.
‘Fred? Oscar? Are you going to say hello?’
‘Hello.’ we both said pathetically.
It turned out that Maria was 15, from Holland and had the most beautiful sing song voice.
After we’d recovered our composure we set about interrogating the newcomer. Poor old Jo was like Moses cast into the wilderness.
‘So how do you know Jo?’ I asked.
‘We met last year in Valencia. Her family had a Villa next to ours.’
‘How long are you staying here?’ It was Oscar’s turn.
‘Just three days, then I go and stay with my nanny and gramps in Essex.’
Three days, we only had three days.
Those three days were all about trying to impress Maria, Oscar and I put in sterling efforts, doing things that 14 year old boys think impress girls. We bought her coke, ice cream cones, sweets, it was getting costly. We took her rowing on the lake where Oscar called me a ponce for dropping the oar, much to his amusement and my annoyance. At night I talked to her about the stars and the constellation Orion this time it was Oscar’s turn to get frustration, this was getting messy.   Despite our best efforts  neither of us were getting any closer to the magical kiss we both craved. Finally we had to have Maria make a decision, so in the age old Barry tradition Oscar got a stone and drew a D on the ground.
‘Stand in the D Maria.’ he instructed. She did as she was told.
‘We both like you,’ he said, while I blushed. ‘So you have to make a decision, him’ he poked his thumb dismissively in my direction, ‘or me.’
She looked at Oscar and then at me, for a split second I was sure she was going to choose me but then we heard the noise of a Honda motorcycle, it was Jo’s brother Bernard.
Maria smiled then turned and then hopped on the back of the bike and pulled on Bernard’s spare helmet.
A cruel end to a beautiful few days.

For more Barry inspired stories click here    

This was the final story in my football themed week but how has this got anything to do with football?
Well this is a list of players who are in World Cup Squads, 

Di Maria, Messi, Valencia, Company, Hart, Hulk, Song, Ponce, Wright, Oar, Holland, Blind, Robben, (Robbing), Lens, Krul (Cruel), Villa, Silva, Kone, Barry, Bony, Honda, Shaw (sure), Sterling, Bone, Costly, Orion, Moses, Kroos (Cruise), Mensah, Boye, Nani, Green, Hazard, Oscar, Koke (coke), Fred, Bernard, Honda.
I’ve played around with the spelling or bastardised the pronunciation but how many of them can you spot in the story. My particular favouirte is Di Maria :-) 

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Dave could be an idiot at times, a complete idiot, and up until that moment he had been feeling so proud of himself.
He had never seen Silke smile in all the time he'd worked in the same company as her, not that is until Monday when she’d smiled at him, it was only a little smile, a flicker, a nanosmile, so tiny that to start with he'd thought he was imagining it, but then yesterday as they passed in the corridor there was that little smile again. So this morning when they passed and she smiled he made up his mind, he was not imagining it, it was a sign and he'd ask her out. So he did so, right there, right then and to his great surprise she said yes, how about tonight. So they made plans to go for a drink straight after work.
But they were plans that almost immediately changed when he got to his desk and his phone rang and Silke was on the other end.
‘I forgot I have to work late tonight.’ she said.
‘What time do you finish?’ the words were out of his mouth before Dave had a chance to realise this was her way of backing out.
‘Okay shall we meet at nine then?’ Dave was sure he blown it, too needy, too pushy but again, to his amazement, she said yes.
‘Okay outside the National Gallery 9pm?’
‘Deal,’ she said, her informal language in her German voice sounding so cute. 

It was now 9.12, and Dave called himself an idiot for the umpteenth time. He was still trying to battle his way across Trafalgar Square all the time keeping his eyes peeled for a petite German girl. But spotting her was not going to be easy. He’d never seen the square so crowded or heard it so noisy. How could he have forgotten England were playing football tonight. The thought of going on a date with Silke had snatched all other thoughts from his mind. He battled his way through the large men in England shirts drinking beer, singing songs and staring at the big screen where England were playing Germany in the semi final of Euro 96. Dave should have been 10 minutes early but the hoards were not very accommodating to a nerdy non football fan on a first date, so he was now running over 10 minutes late. He battled his way across the square, politely apologising every time a hooligan blocked his path. He was called all the names under the sun, most of them questioning his sexuality. He wondered what they have thought if they’d  known the nationality of the person he was meeting.
It was only then he realised how horrible it must be for Silke. Would she be scared, angry, worried, intimidated?
Another chorus of ‘two world wars and one World Cup’ rang out from the masses as England attacked. Dave put his head down and edged his way through the crowd.
He was now 17 minutes late, but he was just about at the gallery. He wouldn't have blamed Silke if she was long gone. He looked around. It was like trying to spot a needle in a haystack, a needle that might not even be there. He was beginning to panic now, he knew she was an adult and could look after herself but she was the adversary behind enemy lines.  He heard a loud groan of relief and saw a German on screen holding his head in his hands, but he couldn’t see his German in this crowd.
Then something caught his eye, a short women using her finger to brush her hair from her eyes before she brought the other hand up to light her cigarette.
He was about to call her name but remembering where he was decided better of it and instead pushed his way through the few reminding bodies blocking his path.
He tapped her on the shoulder.
‘What a fucking place to meet’ she said.
Dave smiled, he was going to like this woman.