Some addictions can be truly covered up from most eyes, some are held in esteem by other addicts. The people who don’t share the same addictions though, but who are the closest to the addicts will, at times, despair. If I’m being totally honest, this game was too soon. Anybody with a modicum of sense, could see it. Addicts have a continual battle with their own particular magnet, regardless of what it is. I’m no different obviously. The personal ambition of attending every Blues game this season had evaporated as the sirens and flashing blue lights had appeared. This game wasn’t about addiction, wasn’t about what had happened on planet Blues. It was very much the person trying to learn how to ride a bike after crashing. I was getting back on the bike. I came out of the flat and headed for the bus stop. The bus pulled up at the traffic lights at the start of my road. I would have to run for it. First true test. Would my feet trip me up before I’d had chance to even get into town. The accident had made me more clumsier than usual. I hadn’t been clumsy by nature before, so this was a new one. I caught the bus quite easily. Although I can always do without this sort of thing, I was actually quite proud of myself. I’d passed the first test. I was feeling ok too. Then when I was safely on the bus, I remembered I’d forgotten the days itinerary. This might not have been a new thing since the accident but it’s still infuriating. It takes around two hours to work out an itinerary for an away game. The ones you haven’t done before, longer, the many times ones, not that long. Cardiff might not have been a first, but I had still spent time on it. I would be having to do it from memory. I was feeling good though, so that was a good thing. I got to the station and came across the second problem I’d encountered since the accident. I get batches of double vision. Something that is definitely getting better every day. I tried to gauge from my advanced train ticket where my reservation was. Not only was I trying to read it with one eye shut, the print had decided to shrink on me. I got down onto the platform without too much hassle, not quite performing like I was before Vauxhall station sprawl, but definitely better. There wasn’t anyone I knew for the train, a few faces I recognised, but I felt like an interloper because I’d missed a meagre three games in a row and I was on my own. Attending games like I do, you find yourself getting these paranoid type feelings. Before the Brentford incident, I had got this game penciled in months previous. I had purchased my advanced train tickets, the previous payday and I wanted to meet up with my niece and her bloke for the first time since he’d popped the question. Not only that but Cardiff is just a great City to visit and it had been a no brainer for me when the fixtures came out. Places you visit just once a season have a tendency of changing slightly since your last touch down. Not something, when you’re mending, you really need. It’s the pretense that you know exactly what you’re doing, that you hope nobody notices. Memories kicking in well enough, I headed for the Gatekeeper. I was on safe ground with the Cardiff pub scene. I knew roughly, when places opened and where they were. The Gatekeeper is the best Wetherspoons in Cardiff and I’d arranged to meet Steve in there.
Not quite Ninian Park. Two of the biggest games in Blues history and I missed both through lack of money.
I had just sat at a table, when Darrell, J.K. and Steve came in. It was great to see them. Catch up, wasn’t a phrase that covered it. Darrell went upstairs to the toilet, It’s a Wetherspoons, they’re either up or down anyway. This one though, has a lift. Darrell used it. Surprised wasn’t the word. This lift could’ve traveled at the speed of light and Darrell would’ve still beaten it. He just fancied the experience of using a lift in a Wetherspoons. Not high on my list of ambitions but then, why not. Opportunities can present themselves when you least expect. Enjoy what you can and where. We moved on to the Queens Vaults. A cavernous place. Not only were Mikey and Spoons already in there, but they were playing pool. It had been the first time I’d ever seen Spoons play pool. I half wondered if it wasn’t a delayed affect from some of the medication I’d had in the King’s College hospital and I was hallucinating. I was expecting a pack of dogs dressed in waistcoats carrying pool cue’s to enter and ask to play. Again, it was good to see them and a big dose of catch up happened. I had taken a photo of Spoons and Mikey playing pool. I was still trying to work my phone back out and it, I hadn’t been able to take it properly. Shame, because I reckon it could quite easily be another decade before I see Spoons playing pool again. Mobile phones can be fantastic gizmos but not when you can’t work out how to use them. Sarah and Dave had text to say they were on their way. I greeted Dave as he spotted me from the car as I made my way to the Hop Bunker. Unfortunately, the Place wasn’t going to be open till 12. A quick text and It was off to the Owain Glyndwr. I usually get to this place a lot earlier, it was a lot closer to midday, the hungry of Cardiff had headed here. It had been way too long since I’d seen Sarah and Dave. The first time since he’d popped the all important question. This conversation was a lot more about how I was. There was no wool to be pulled over the eyes with this one. I learnt something I wasn’t expecting though, and it wasn’t about myself. It turns out that Sarah is prone to doing the same as I do with eating. I thought it was just me that gambles with his eating habits and I had certainly been gambling with since before Christmas. Was it the major factor of what happened?, it definitely won’t have helped, and it’s something I will be making a change with. Things you can change, change. Everything else is a lottery. I wasn’t going to miss out on The Hop Bunker though, I dragged the other two there. This is the best place in Cardiff. I would say Wales, but there’s places, I’ve yet to visit and there’s some utterly brilliant places I have, so I’m not going to exclaim that one, but it is fantastic. As I browsed through all the Wedding brochures they’d got and convinced them that I’d walk from England if I had to, the rest descended. Meeting and greetings over, the rest were off to drink round the Canton area of Cardiff. I must have been getting my feet back because I was really starting to get a taste for it again.
A family trait of ours, is an inability to find the right word at the right time. My Mom would substitute whichever word it was that had let her down, for “Whatchamacallit”. Two of them in a sentence, and it was harder than decrypting computer code. Despite protestations, my Brother has developed the word “Whatsit” as his substitute word of choice. It’s like he’s a reincarnation with two of them in a sentence. I had noticed, not so much a substitute invention, but a sub-conscious wrong word or name creeping in. It’s not a conscious thing because it’s never the same word. It’s like my mind is playing tricks on me. A scatter gun brain dictionary thing. Something I’d definitely got to keep under control. The family trait brain blip is and has always been there anyway, but until now, I’d always been moderately on top of it and I’m determined to not slip into the conscious word substitution now. I was definitely under Sarah’s watchful eye. The teacher was at the forefront. Even had I wanted to, I was never going to escape not getting something to eat. We made for a place that my Englishness had tripped me up on, when I was fairly proficient. It didn’t help with the fact that the place had changed hands since I was last in there having a go at the Welsh language. It’s close to the cricket ground, a place on my wish list. To Dave mirth, it’s part of the Brewhouse and Kitchen chain now and not, for a Welsh speaking novice, Mochyn Du. The food was really really good and the rebadged ale wasn’t bad either. It had been superb seeing them both and seeing their plans for next year. Their Wedding is going to clash with a game but I’m convinced now that after what happened to me, a full season just isn’t going to happen anyway. I almost got there though. After saying our goodbyes, I made my way to the ground. I may have been a lot better than I had been but I was no where near 100%. I’d done alright up till now. I had almost half expected to have to bail, but at least I would do the game.
Mrs Bournemouth, Carol was on the concourse. After the Brentford admittance, we talked Blues. Not only had I missed three games but Cotterill had been sacked in the meantime. How did I feel about it and Monk? I cared to a point. Jeff had joined us. Neither of us had been jumping for joy that Cotterill had been appointed in the first place. I liked Garry Monk, but I wasn’t really jumping for joy now. Last season had been one Hell of a rollercoaster, once Redknapp had been sacked this season, I had been expecting absolutely anything. Will we stay up, will we go down? I’ve had my eyes on the league below, way before any of the double vision was ever a couple of dots on the horizon. When I said about caring to a point, that point is getting further and further away, that regardless of double vision or not, I will give up even looking for it. Swapping the binoculars for a telescope will be beyond the effort. I saw Dave Moyna and wished him Happy Birthday. I had actually been away that long. For people like me, two weeks away, is like a couple of months. By the time I had found myself somewhere up the back and found the Noonans, Blues were losing. The manager might have changed, but the defending hadn’t and the defenders certainly hadn’t. It was 3:0 before I could breath all this in. It was good to be back. The Blues were losing and the fans were moaning. Good to see that things hadn’t changed. Truth is, Cardiff aren’t that great, but they were on their toes, just in case something dropped to them and they could get in there. Blues were just going through the motions. We got a penalty. Gardner stepped up. I was in two minds about whether I wanted him to score or not. He did, we did at least look more interested. Cardiff spent the second half hitting us on the counterattack. Personally, I’ve lost total faith with Blues staying up. Players, managers or owners, all a waste of time. I’m now at a stage where I was at almost 40 years ago when I first got interested in football. Every game is just a game. Back then, I was wound up tighter than the inside of a golf ball. Being able to go to a game, was like Christmas morning. I’m jaded now. Not for me, hopes of promotion or survival. It happens, it happens. A game is back to being just a game. I don’t get the Christmas morning thing I got as a kid. I get the Christmas morning thing as an adult. Each game as it comes. We made it 3:2 in injury time. I was back. I saw Tin Man coming out. Twice in a season.
I headed off towards The Landsdown. Another pub I like to visit. A locals boozer with a great range. When I say it’s a locals boozer, you won’t be amazed if I was to say that any locals that hadn’t already been made aware of me not being a local were under no illusions when Darrell phoned me. Quizzical eyes shot round. I was in there to catch the rugby as well as the beer. I’m not a huge fan of rugby but big enough to show an appreciative interest. It’s very much elitist in England and I’m not. Watching St Helens in the flesh is on my wish list but I like watching both codes. That’s a bit of a guilty secret when I’m talking to a true fan of either code though. Something I’d like to develop but Living in Brum, not easy. Pint finished and identity uncovered, I went back to the Hop Bunker. Darrell and Mikey were close to finishing, so I bought them another. I owed Mikey one anyway. One thing I find an impish delight with, is being part of a conversation that is conducted entirely in a Brummy accent. Like being harmless foreigners. I never tire seeing expressions of intrigue. Hearing other conversations accommodating the discovery, like we’re novelties. It was apparent that Darrell and Mikey had had a good trail. We made our way to the station. A bit of a staggered line. I was quite sober compared to the other two. I’d had a good day though. I had managed it. We got a table next to a couple of the older Blues. A couple of Carling brigade. Lads that have done the miles and years.