Bah Humbug!

BILLY'S CONTRACT has a festive whinge

So this is Christmas ...and a bit of the New Year thrown in for good measure. The bride told me to keep the Sunday before Christmas free as we were going to have a treat. Treat consisted of going up to Newcastle (parking: £4.00), a wander around the shops in Eldon Square and bought 'nowt' ...this was becoming a 'rare treat indeed' (said sardonically.)

My feet, due to a pair of new shoes I was wearing, were beginning to ache. Things did picked up for a short while when we met up with the offspring and went to the top notch China buffet called Laos. We left here stuffed to the gills for a long 500/600 yard walk back to the car. Tempted to get a taxi as feet now in agony - felt like I was breaking my feet in and not my new shoes.

After dropping off the Young Master in The Heed I thought that we would be heading off home so I could soak my blistered feet in the bath. Not the case. I was told to drive the car to the Sage (parking: £4.50), where our treat awaited: Gareth bloody Malone, him of The Military Wives Choir fame.

I had relentlessly taken the mick out of my mate whose wife had booked them up to go to this show, even saying to him a couple of days before the show that once he got there he might actually enjoy it. He was shocked and delighted to see me at the same concert, and needless to say he let me have both barrels.

I was still trying to work out how this was 'my' treat as I had never given any indication that I liked Gareth Malone - Dick Malone maybe, but not Gareth Malone. Give the lad his due, he is good at what he does, but not my, nor my mate's cup of tea.

Following day we booked a short break to Dublin, don't know how, but we managed to get dates mixed up and now I'm going to miss the cup match against Derby, which might be for the best.

Christmas night TV was awful: Call the Midwife / Strictly and possibly Casualty. No sign of the traditional Christmas films we've come to expect such as The Great Escape or Zulu. On the the fourth day of Christmas I went down with Man Flu. Women just don't 'get this' do they? On the fifth day of Christmas the fan on the boiler packed in and so no central heating or hot water until the the spare part arrived - on the eleventh day of Christmas. My wife took the daily trip to the Forum baths not so much for a swim but for a shower!

Took me back to the days of my youth on the Headland when we had no central heating or hot water on tap, and turning the immersion heater on for any length of time was a mortal sin met with capital (?? ed.) punishment. Ice on the windows summer and winter. Getting dressed under the bed covers (covers, sorry I meant coats) in order to keep warm, and having to boil water on the cooker to bring upstairs to the bathroom to perform one's ablutions. Tell that to the youngsters today and they would not believe you (said in a broad Yorkshire accent.) Nay lad.
"I had never given any indication that I liked Gareth Malone - Dick Malone maybe, but not Gareth Malone."

During our 'cold spell' in the house the kids, in order to raise our spirits, decided to treat us to a local takeaway. Had to wait over an hour for it to be delivered and when it finally did arrive it was, to use the old Hartlepudlian adjective, 'Shan.' There was more grease on it than on Brad Walker's head. (For reference the food was from a Stockton takeaway and not a Poolie one.)

If for nothing else but to escape the cold of our now Ice Mansion, we were delighted to be invited to the grand bairn's birthday do at TGI Fridays in Thornaby. I won't go into detail but we were here nearly three and a bit hours and three out of the four meals we ordered had to be returned to the kitchens as under-cooked. (Actually my meal was okay. Overpriced but okay.) Check out my comments on Trip Advisor for full details. From here I journeyed to Hartlepool to meet my mates in one of the town's newer pubs. I won't name names but lets call it the Hart and Chimp. We were having a very enjoyable night here until the Karaoke kicked in. What made it worse however was that the Karaoke Meister sang most of the songs with no one else getting a look in. It's bad enough listening to Meatloaf but someone taking him off is even worse.

So all in all it was a tough old Christmas, what with one thing or another, but the straw that broke the camel's back in my case, and which was the biggest spoiler of them all for Christmas, was the postponement of our Boxing Day match against Notts County, not to mention the Carlisle game a few days later meeting a similar fate, though with a tad more water on the playing surface than at the Vic, it has to be said.

I really enjoyed Boxing Day matches, never mind The Morecambe and Wise Christmas special. The Boxing Day home game was for me what Christmas was all about. God bless you Tiny Tim and good cheer to your fellow man and all that, even to the refs! Whenever the fixture list came out at the beginning of each season the first thing I did after looking to see when we played Darlow was to see if we would be at home on Boxing Day (St Stephen's Day for our Irish readers), as well as Easter Monday.

I stand to be corrected but I think it is going on for 6/7 seasons since we have played at home on the 26th December. The postponement must have cost the club and local hostelries a few bob in lost revenue. For some drinking establishments around the ground Boxing Day represents the best part of a week's takings. Instead of bringing my nephew to his first ever Pools game, as intended (his Christmas present!), and quaffing a few pints before and after the match along with the traditional flask of hot mulled wine that my mate dispenses at half time, we were stuck at home making ourselves sick eating Inequality Street chocolates (have you seen the size of them these days), whilst waiting for the footy results to come in. You could say it was a case of Cold Turkey. Which was served up not long afterwards by the housekeeper.

To put the tin hat on it all Borer won, not once, but twice over the holiday period.

Truly a Bah Humbug Christmas and New Year of the highest order.