A Short Jog

My light jog across the waste ground led yet again to another mishap. My foot caught a small rock and my knees buckled and for a few short seconds much to the amusement of the Spanish family walking behind me I gave an impression of someone attempting a late entry into the ministry of funny walks as I was still sort of jogging but in an almost crouching position, but this ended when my ankle turned over like a tranny on his first outing with heels that he can’t control. The forward roll that followed was one of my better ones and I think I have indeed nailed this movement now and almost feel like repeating it randomly in front of people. Then standing straight up and pretending to spot a plant that needed to be examined (This never fools anyone and they know you are soaked in embarrassment) it’s a bit like a cat that slips of a table and continues to clean itself while pretending that is what it meant to do. With one last look at the plant I jogged away lifting my knees slightly higher than necessary in a bid to not allow it to happen again in front of the Spanish family who had already had their quota of entertainment for the day. The parrots mocked me from their tree.

Andy (no pride left) Beveridge

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Golf Defies The Laws Of Physics.

Golf is one of those games that defies the laws of physics. You know the trajectory of the club head is correct and you also know that your grip is not too light but firm enough to keep control. You have eyed the green in the near distance and lined up everything up in exactly the same way as you did when you hit that wonderful shot about a year ago. The breeze is gentle and warm and will not be taking a part in the journey of this golf ball through the air.
The club head slices through the air in a controlled arc and is every bit as good as professionals look on the television or at least that is what your head says, because your friends stood behind you are seeing a different picture. For them result is inevitable as they can see you are facing slightly to the right and that aged old excuse of I tend to bring the ball round doesn’t cut it anymore.
You can actually fool yourself right up to the point of impact that it is going to be a great shot as up to that point there is no proof of anything different. Once club and ball make contact then all bets are off and the savageness of your incompetency knows no bounds. The head of the club follows through in a manner that you practiced so many times in the past and your torso twists and the club head although nowhere near where you think it is does end up behind you. The ball however reveals the truth of how your stance and setup were all misaligned.
You could forgive yourself if the ball had gone a few yards right of the green as you were already facing away as your friends will repeatedly tell you later on in the clubhouse, but the fact that somewhere deep down in your subconscious you knew this mistake made for another problem. It’s a tiny movement but to compensate and your subconscious knew it had to, there was an adjustment mid flow. A slice had been produced. Now the ball already destined even with the perfect stroke to land a few yards right of the green has now developed a beautiful spinning action and arcs itself away from the chosen target and seriously threatens golfers on another fairway.
Little smirks appear on the faces of fellow players as their job just got easier, because it is one of the quirks of playing golf that if someone has made a mistake that you will never feel as bad as they did. Of course, there will be a round of how unlucky and I thought you nailed that one. None of this course compensates for the complete lack of skills on display. Little reminders creep in about how you’re actually paying for this in cash. Sometimes you even look at the clubs and think it’s time you changed them especially when a friend hits the perfect shot with their brand-new club.
Golf is truly a frustrating game at times and it does seem to defy the law of physics, it certainly does not live up to the law of averages or at least how I play it anyway. Yet it is strangely addictive and it only takes one perfect contact with the ball to have you planning next week’s game.
There must be some life lessons to be learned from this but for the life of me I can’t think of any.

FORE!

Andy Beveridge

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I Have the Most Laid Back Cat in the World

It dawned on me the other day that I have very few photographs of my cat Billy Bob with his eyes open and I take a lot of pictures of him. This is because he is so chilled he sleeps most of the time.
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He has a gentle spirit and lives in a world where cats don’t hunt or spit at each other, no Billy Bob is more likely to share his stash of catnip on meeting another cat. I have seen doves edge him away from his water bowl.
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The only act of violence I ever saw in him was when he caught a wounded dragon fly and he ate it before I could get to him. This could have been a moment of madness on his part where he returned to his primeval roots but I prefer to think of it as an act of kindness as he put the poor creature out of its misery.
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He hates traveling but settles into any new home like he had it purposely made for him. “Put the sofa there and I will sleep while you unpack” He gives a lot of love and likes to be within about 20 feet of me all the time, strangely he does not like being picked up but loves sitting next to me with one paw on my arm.
He has his own Facebook page now where I often find myself writing on his behalf. You can check it out here if you so desire. My name is Billy Bob

Andy

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Parrots hate me and I don’t know why.

Now I like parrots, they are intelligent and colourful and for the most part quite cheerful. However, they dislike me with a passion, I don’t know why this, but even the most docile African grey can transform itself back into an ancient ancestor and  flip into velociraptor mode at the very sight of me.
I had a girlfriend who had a parrot and it was called Freddie and he seemed to like me because when we first met as he would come to the side of his cage and allow me to stroke the top of his head. This apparently was unusual as Freddie had previously shown a dislike to other would be suitors to his owner’s affection. In fact, my girlfriend was very impressed but none of us had any knowledge of Freddie’s real intentions.

After a few days of leading me into a false sense of security things suddenly took a turn for the worse as Freddie’s real plans were revealed. On this particular day my courage and confidence knew no bounds and I was eager to show off my latest party trick which basically was me allowing the parrot to groom my eyebrows through the bars of the cage. My girlfriend was suitable impressed as Freddie gently nibbled and tweaked away until almost in slow motion his head turned sideways and close up I saw his beak open and then close over the bridge of my nose.

For the next few seconds all hell broke loose as Freddie attempted to pull me through the bars, the less impressed girlfriend tried to prise his beak open as a stream of life blood flowed down my face. Then tiring of his game he suddenly let go and started preening himself like it was just a normal everyday thing. I swear he had an evil grin on his beak.

After that I allowed my eyebrows to grow wild and free and Freddie no longer liked me as he would shriek at me when I visited and to his pleasure my girlfriend and mysef split up a month later.
Another instance of the rage that I can produce in the parrot world was when we visited someone in Spain. They had two of the things that were allowed to fly around the house, I can’t remember what type they were but they were fairly small as parrots go. At first it was ok as they landed on me and sat on my shoulder or my head which everyone thought funny. I was quite happy with this mysef until I tried gently I might add to remove one from my head as its claws were scratching me. Outraged by this it closed its beak around my thumb and nigh on took it off. This spurred the other one into action and not to be outdone it pierced my ear in exactly the right place if I had wanted to wear an ear ring. The owner had to remove them and from that day forth they had to stay in their cage whenever I was present. They shrieked at me when I walked into the room so it was fairly obvious what the outcome would be if they were allowed to be free.

I have had several other minor displays of horror when parrots have set eyes on me. There was an old ladies African Grey that nearly decapitated itself trying to get to me and a few times when I have had to leave a pet store as my presence evoked chaos.

Now I live in Spain and to my horror there is a local population of parakeets which can number up to 30 or so. When I walk across the nature reserve I am aware of them watching me and waiting. Daphne De Maurier would surely have gained inspiration for the sequle to “The Birds”
If I ever go missing and after a search they find my lifeless body I am pretty certain you will find a few brightly colored feathers nearby.

Andy Beveridge

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The Quest for a New Car

It has always baffled me that back in Catalonia people thought the price they paid for their cars would still be obtainable many years later. The fact that no one ever looked after their vehicles added to the weirdness of their perceived value.
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I mean often these cars would look like the annual bull-run had taken place over them, wing mirrors were considered a luxury and often one just hanging down was clearly viewed as a selling point. The same car could be seen parading around with the for sale sign and over inflated price stuck in the back window for years. I fear often passed down to the next generation who had the same viewpoint in that their cars like their wine would increase in value through time.
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It is not quite as bad as that down here in Spain but still can be amusing. Take for instance a car I looked at the other day. The advert boasted that it was well maintained and immaculate in and out. On arrival I could only assume he meant his other car as this one did not match those bold claims.
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True the one hub cap that remained on the vehicle did look kind of clean, which prompted me to ask if the other ones were inside the house and being cleaned as we wait.
The immaculate inside fared no better, it looked like flock of pigeons had used it as a holiday home for several months, and then had employed a troop of untrained baboons to tidy it up.
*
“It’s got seat belts” he said, in a voice that was I think hit by the realisation that his previous well scripted description was now failing him. I pointed out that I could see one of them pocking out of the top of a Mcdonald container, the pigeons clearly ate out a lot.
*
Further inspection revealed the wing was really just a memory and the exhaust was held together by wire. I did offer a compliment at this point as it had already dawned on him that it was not going to be sold to me at any cost. I said, “Well done on being able to use so much wire and yet still make it look like it came with the original exhaust system”
*
The words “well if you don’t want it” were uttered and there was an awkward silence while I waited for him to finish the sentence with maybe you should take a look at the real car I am selling, but the wait was in vain.
*
Before departing I informed him that not only did I not want it but I feared for the safety of other vehicles nearby because there must be a risk of contamination.
No moral to the tale but be cautious when employing troops of untrained baboons to clean your car.
*
Andy

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The day I learned to swim

Some moments in life stay with us forever and one of those moments for me is when I first plucked up the courage to trust my buoyancy (Drummed into me by several teachers “You can’t sink boy if you just relax”) and attempt to swim in a fashion the width of the school swimming pool.
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The reward was a small red ribbon which at a later date could be sown onto the trunks by a parent. Although the blue ribbon was the ultimate prize, (an entire length of the pool was required for this) the red one was still a sought after by us none swimming oiks.
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Looking back as an adult, the distance was really just a few feet but even with my ridiculously long orangutan like arms it seemed like the width of the Thames.
This was another blight I had to suffer, my arms outgrew the rest of my body and remained that way to a degree into adulthood. Something that for a few years worked in my favour in the boxing ring, but for a sprat of a child this was a huge embarrassment.
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I will never forget that moment when I became the focus of attention of the entire class. Almost breathless as the chest deep water seemed to crush my lungs and that moment when the master blew the whistle and I fell forward into the blueness. For a moment all noise disappeared as my head went under although that was not in my plans. Then back up to the cheering and life giving air.
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My method of accomplishing the distance was kind of based on doggy paddle but leaned more towards drowning really. Arms and legs flaying out in all directions I somehow managed to get enough water under me or behind me to propel myself painfully slowly across the few feet required and then suddenly breathless and exhausted I touched the side.
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This was of course long before the days of camera phones, so my amazing feat was never recorded and I am glad about that as I am sure my parents would have been mortified to see a video of their child basically drowning.
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I now of course could separate myself from the boys who could not swim but was still looked down upon by the blue ribbon holders. A few days later I was handed over a certificate and the sought after red ribbon. They are long gone now but the memory stay with me. In fact when I achieved blue ribbon status a few weeks later it held less importance because by now I could swim and it seemed simple. It never held that dangerous fear of leaving the comfort zone like the first attempt.
*
True success often requires you to do that.
*
Andy Beveridge

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The case of the Jalapeno pepper

This post goes back to my bedsit days, I lived in a tiny street called Dolphin Street, and it was situated in the oldest part of Salisbury. I loved it there and when looking across the roofs from my bedroom window you were offered a view that not that many see. All the old buildings could be seen and when it snowed in particular it reminded me of a Dickens scene.
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It is also the scene of a very painful memory too.
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It was common place for me in those days to buy takeaway food in the evening and eat it cold in the morning for breakfast. Not good I know but I used to work late as a doorman and a couple of kebabs was all there was to buy. One on the way home and a cold one for breakfast get it?
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This day however I’d gone up market and purchased a pizza, the owner of the pizza place knew I liked peppers and used to sprinkle a few loose ones on top. I had eaten half of it as was the way and the rest lay by the side of the bed for the morning.
It was a Sunday morning and the sun streamed through the window pulling me away from slumber, I contemplated getting up and making my way down the three floors to the kitchen but I slumped back still tired from the late night before.
Then I remembered the pizza.
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Still half remained which was more than enough for breakfast but in truth I couldn’t be bothered to get up. I reached down a grabbed a slice and carefully raised it up to above my face. It was at this point that a Jalapeno pepper that had been placed there previously as an act of kindness chose its moment to make a break for freedom.
*
Why it chose my eye I will never know. There was a moment when time seemed to stand still, almost like everything was waiting for something to happen, and happen it did as the first fiery surge of stinging pain shot through my eye. The pizza slice went flying and stuck to the screen of my tv which I also felt was a bit mean.
*
Then almost at the same time I tried to escape the bed but my foot got tangled in the bed clothes and panic set in. I ended up with my shoulders in the remaining pizza and my legs tangled in a knot of sheets that even Houdini would have been pushed to escape from. The bedroom now looked like a war zone and even Kate Bush didn’t escape unharmed, well at least one of her records., because a beer bottle still half full managed to topple itself over in the melee and the golden liquid once named “Harvester’s moon” made its way slowly across the floor to the album cover. I watched almost in slow motion as Kate’s image greedily soaked up a good glug of Harvester’s moon and ruined its self.
*
I treat all chilli peppers with a little more respect now.

Andy

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Just some random thoughts about opinions, storms and Mozzies

I have strong opinions of that there is no doubt. They cover a wide range of topics like religion and moral values, we all have these thoughts and beliefs, and they often differ from other peoples. That kind of makes the world an interesting place to be honest.
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I do find myself from time to time having to adjust how I share those opinions with others, because I am aware that it is important to not try and force my values onto other people. Just because those are my thoughts does not mean they have to be other peoples too.
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This is easier said than done but I try because I recognise that we gain more from listening to each other. I am rarely offended by other people’s views but I find that my own often do put out a cat among the pigeons, especially where religion is concerned.
If we become blinkered and only focused on our own beliefs then we run the danger of becoming self-centred and it is important in (my opinion) to see it from all sides.
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This week we have had the usual pattern of intense heat followed by thunderstorms in the evenings. Where I currently live in the Pyrenees, it is perfectly positioned to create such weather. The last valley in France is surrounded by high foot hills and mountains and you can clearly watch the clouds gathering over these peaks as the cooler mountain air meets the warmer air rising up from the valley.
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The intensity of the following storms can be quite amazing and ever since childhood I have been in awe of such events. The fizz and crackle of lightening and the following clap of thunder is both beautiful and un nerving at the same time, and serves to remind me that nature still retains the power and can change our lives in seconds if she wants to.
Then that period after the storm where air becomes clear and steam rises from the ground to begin to fuel the whole process again. When I leave this area I will take that memory with me.
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Mosquitos like me, that is a fact. Actually they love me and I should start naming them because I am sure it is the same ones that follow me around all the time. You get to know these things after awhile, they all have their own little mannerisms and habits. Perhaps I should look on them as pets and this might make my acceptance of them a little easier. Even hidden in a crowd of people they spot me and before very long I have a little cloud of them circling above my head.
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It may be my head that is the attraction, being completed shorn of hair has its positives (easy to get ready in the morning) but I feel it makes a perfect landing pad for mozzies and house flies.
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I suppose as this is a summer thing then I could look on my head as being a kind of holiday resort for these little creatures. If only I could charge them rent!
I have tried covering myself in any number of things designed by clever people who see this as gullible market and then even more cleverly marketed by people who are the direct decedents of the snake oil sellers of the past.
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With natural Aloe Vera to sooth and infused with real lemon juice it said on the tube. My first worry was why I needed a soothing type component when the lemon part was supposed to keep them away in the first place.
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Then there is a product called “After bite” Now this felt pen type looking creation is supposed to offer relief straight after being bitten, but it fails miserably unless you consider that having a burning sensation is superior to having the original bite. It is like being bitten and then arming the mosquito with a red hot poker.
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There is also a device that sends a small electrical charge into the bite and renders it soothed. I have yet to try this one and have to admit that my nerve fails me. Judging by the success of the other products on the market, sending electric charges into my body no matter how small they are seems almost suicidal.
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No, it is better that I think of them as my little pack of airborne pets, you never know by the end of the summer I may have them doing tricks.
Andy

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My encounter with the hate monkey

We saw each other at the same time. One of those moments when even through the crowd and the noise and the lights a connection was made. He was a small hairy monkey (Species unknown) I was a small boy of five or six. The place was a fairground full of tinsel and tack.
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I already hated the fair, I didn’t like the noise and the rides offered me no comfort. I had already suffered massive humiliation on a previous visit the year before. Almost made to at least try something I chose the Helter Skelter. I regretted this within my first few steps, because although it might not seem that high to an adult, to me it was like climbing a sheer cliff face without a rope.
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My slow progress up the stairs built a back log of kids behind me and I could hear encouragement from my Dad that really was a desperate command. “Get up those stairs, you are nearly there”. That was quite clearly a lie because I could see ahead how many spiral stairs that awaited my nervous steps.
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Once at the top I was handed a rough hairy mat and told to sit on it and keep my hands off the side of the walls. The Helter Skelter is just a giant slide but to me at that very moment I may as well have been about to take on a Bobsleigh run, and that is why I disobeyed the orders from the fairground man and put out my arms before I reached the first bend. My theory was that by letting go in stops and starts I would build no real speed up thus arriving at the bottom to cheering crowds in perfect safety.
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I had not taken into account that other kids would follow so soon and quickly a build up of kids had formed. The fairground man was shouting at us by now but it fell on deaf ears because of the noise of the fairground and that one kid behind me had started to cry. I don’t know if what followed was the fairground man’s tactical display or just a random sequence of events, but the next kid to come down the slide was the size of Billy Bunter and the laws of physics would have had to be broken to have kept our kiddy dam intact.
The result was that we hurtled down the slide at break neck speed all arms and legs flaying in different directions. The mass of mats at the bottom was in no way designed for a mass landing and several kids flew off to the sides, I however did land in the middle and rolled forward in a straight line but it was no dadah! moment, as my hand was firmly grasped and I was pulled away into the crowd.
*
However back to the monkey incident. My parents this year were better equipped to deal or at least avoid helter skelter type situations, and to this effect I was steered clear of most of the intimidating rides.
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One side of the fairground was more interesting than the other as it had all the candy floss and toffee apple stalls plus some stuff that gave Fathers a chance to show off by winning coconuts or stuffed toys. However it was here that I met my hate monkey.
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The hate monkey in a way looked a lot like me, its arms were too long and it had a school cap on (Quite why I had to wear my school cap when out still mystifies me to this day)
The idea was that young children could hold the monkey and have a photograph taken and indeed proof of this existed in the line of happy children ahead. The monkey seemed to know what to do and although it was on a leash the owner didn’t have to do that much as the monkey happily settled on each child’s arm.
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The giveaway to the horror to come was that the hate monkey never took his eyes off me even for a second. Other kids came and went and my turn approached and despite my reluctance I once again was forced to do something that my gut feeling told me to avoid.
The creature shrieked and glared and showed his teeth and I resisted as best I could at having my arms pushed forward. Then for one moment a kind of peace seemed to wash across us, the hate monkey forgot where he was and calmly stepped on to my arm, the owner jumped at the chance and the camera clicked and flashed.
*
I blame the flash for bringing the hate monkey back to his real agenda. Another shriek followed and this time the monkey bared its teeth and promptly bit me on the arm. This would have been humiliation enough in the fact that it had singled me out amongst all the other children but to drive it home further it urinated on me as well.
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There is no getting away from such events, they leave triggers behind. I am forever reminded when I see a fairground being set up and I avoid them at all costs. I would think in modern times monkeys would not be abused in that way but the hate monkey lives on in my mind anyway.
Worth noting that my parents never took me to a fairground again.

Andy

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Music was my first love and it will be my last

I can, given the right inspiration write a good yarn or two, and usually have no problem expressing myself through the written word, but musically I am about as useless as a for sale sign stuck into a wheelbarrow full of sand in the Sahara.
Yet I love music, and often thought of myself years ago as poet who could write the lyrics that could change the world. All I needed to do was to learn to play an instrument of some sort.
The story though begins way back when I was a five year old boy and ready start my musical career off, all I needed was the right encouragement and guidance. I found however a conspiracy to halt my budding future before it had even a chance to take off.
It started with a glockenspiel which to me is a wooden version of xylophone. Not I admit the kind of instrument to get the heart pounding or inspire the latest Bob Dylan to surface, but class A of Meadow park infant’s school was never going to be that anyway.
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The girls seemed to be given all the favourable instruments and it seemed already that a life of possible percussion lay ahead of me. In fact I can remember it annoying me that flocks of girls skipped around the class with recorders seemingly already mastered. Were they born that way? The best I could do was to produce a high pitched shriek that killed songbirds from a distance. This was actually in my favour as I found out the recorder was really only meant for girls or future gay men.
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The accident that got me barred from further glockenspiel activities was I still feel to this day an injustice, I had been told to leave it alone but inspiration is hard to hold back in a five year old boy and I had watched in envy as a huddle of girls played simple little tunes like they were born to it. That was right up to the point when another lad pushed the instrument over and everyone ran away. I seized my chance and reinstated it to its rightful place and began to play or at least thump it when the door opened and in came the teacher who had previously told me to keep away from the ruddy thing. It was at that point that the glockenspiel chose to fall apart, obviously hideously wounded from its fall and in some way weakened further from my over enthusiastic playing. I can see how this looked but was terribly unfair.
I was made to stand outside and informed that my final humiliation would be to be demoted to what was deemed to be the second lowest of all instruments the cymbal in the up and coming school musical event.
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Rehearsals turned out to be another bad day in my music career. To cut a long story short I was sat behind the boy who pushed the glockenspiel over and he had become my arch enemy number one. He was at the bottom of the pecking order in holding the only musical instrument that ranked below the cymbal, the triangle.
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I don’t know what came over me but I chose my one and only opportunity to shine by clashing the cymbals together at the right moment but on his head. He was apparently quite deaf for a few days which I think was a serious advantage in that orchestra.
My punishment was to be demoted to the triangle but without the little wand to hit it with.
*
Later my challenges with the violin and guitar will be revealed

Andy Beveridge

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How a stubbed toe can turn you into the walking dead

It is well documented if you are a visitor to my Facebook timeline that I have been suffering an injury this week. I have chosen every possible moment to whinge about it including the middle of the night when the cat was the only listener.

It was caused by bashing my big toe against a step, the kind of accident that warrants thirty seconds of swearing and the overwhelming desire to be left alone, then disappears as quickly as it came.
Not this time though, because it had manifested itself overnight into gargantuan sized foot that bore no resemblance to what had carried me around the day before. Yet the x-ray revealed no broken bones, and yet I was so sure that it would have created an image so distorted with fragments of bone that it would have better been suited to representing an archaeological dig.
Apparently it is an impact injury (fairly obvious I thought) that crushed nerves and tore the cartilage surround the joint. This I am told is far more painful than a break and thus warrants extreme amounts of whinging. So there!

Treatment came in the shape of a couple of drugs one of which was Tramadol. I had never come across this medication before but I will surely remember it for some time to come.
The first tablet of which there were to be three a day brought on a mild and relaxing few hours. In fact I could have sat back in a field of poppies writing folk music or penned a medieval poem about dragons and kings. The second tablet taken just after mid day changed my mindset completely. This was more like the walking dead and I shuffled through the rest of the afternoon with my mind trying to desperately to remember who I once was. Even the cat became a bit wary as I lumbered across the room, one foot trailing behind.

The third tablet basically removed the few remaining brain cells left and turned me into a drooling mess. I watched television without knowledge of what the program was about, I stared at things like there were mysteries to be discovered inside of them.
However today is a whole different ball game, and I awoke bright and early with the foot almost back in shape and the pain reduced to just a low ache. With some of my brain cells returning I made the decision to not take the rest of the medication. Maybe one day when I need to sleep they might get a use. At the moment I have no desire to return to the ranks of the walking dead.
So, no more whinging I promise although I may share with you the story of how I once got a Jalapeno pepper in my eye.

Andy Beveridge

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A broken toe and a pretty mean mosquito

A broken toe or at least the knuckle part has rendered it almost impossible for me to walk across the room. I must look like a very poor surfer as I flay my arms out in every direction with each step.
The thing is I don’t really know how I did it. I mean I can remember stubbing my toe on the step the day before but that was one of those swear like mad for thirty seconds and then it was gone moments. Waking up this morning with my foot swollen and in so much pain does not make sense when related to that.

The Cat, who I rescued from a life in a hedgerow only a few months ago I might add, has shown his true colours by allowing me to sit down before demanding the door to be opened. I was expecting a little more in the sympathy stakes than that. Billy-Bob (Named because he has an almost toothless grin and was the only name I could think of that sounded like a hick name) has taken over the house and nothing would change my mind that they remember that they were once worshipped as Gods.
To add to my woes I have come across what must be the meanest mosquito in the Northern hemisphere. I have a six foot fourteen stone frame and yet she chose the one spot that would cause the most discomfort. You got it she bit me on my broken toe. I now can’t satisfy the overwhelming urge to itch it without sending a thousand volts of pain shooting up my leg.
Seeing as I have an almost Budistic way of thinking about the natural world it seems a little unfair to be honest.

Andy Beveridge

PS: Female because only they have mouth parts. Make what you will of that.

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