With what appears to be usual now, I walked into town, as I got there, I found myself with ‘Ghost Town’ by the Specials echoing round my near empty head. I hadn’t got my headphones on, it’s just what the Covid Gestapo have created for Brum. The shops are open, but there’s hardly anyone in them, same as the pubs.
The hirsute barmaid wasn’t working, so checking progress was postponed. Taffy arrived, remarking how good last week’s rubbish was. I am vain enough to check how many people read this, but couldn’t tell you whether it’s popular or not. I’m only ever baffled that it’s read at all. What really astonishes me, is when it’s visited by people living in different countries around the world. I can’t imagine what they must think of the strange little bloke that writes this thing. In all fairness, I too often wonder about me. I honestly don’t blame them for smashing the mould after they made me. Had I been aware of the process at the time, I’d have probably been the one wielding the lump hammer. One of me is far too much, two would be just catastrophic. Thankfully they jettisoned random pieces of the mould deep into space, and the rest, they encased in lead and sank to the bottom of several different oceans. Jinksy came in but too late for a pint before the train, turned out that he was meeting the two lads from last week. So me and Taff left the Welly and went and caught the train. The older I get, the more sense I make of things in life. Life is a balance, a series of tradeoffs. The Chinese worked this out centuries ago. It’s taken me a few centuries of being on this planet myself, but I’ve got there. Yin and Yang, it basically means something like the balance needed between two opposites for those opposites to co-exist. I grew up a staunch Socialist and for a period of time, bordered on militancy. I’m still very much a Socialist, but now realise you have to have an opposite political philosophy for it to work. You can’t have too much dominance by either side before things start to fall apart. If you’re wondering where the Hell I’m going with this, it’s this. The vast majority of humanity is totally unaware of their mental health, it’s taboo, it’s embarrassing, it gets hidden, pushed down, out of sight. I’m no expert on mental health but am now at a stage given my own experience of my own mental health and other people’s states, that I seem to know a great deal more than the average person apparently does. There’s three main states in various stages. Psychosis which is dangerous to other people and extremely acute, and the two most common ones, Depression and Anxiety. Unless you’re completely self aware and can actually cope, you’re probably oblivious to which one you’re affected by, but you’ll be affected by one of them. Deny it all you want, but it’s just part of human nature. Blame your parents, it’s in your DNA. While you’re at it, blame your Grandparents and your Great Grandparents too. Blame anyone but admit to your own failings if you want, but it’ll dawn on you eventually. Right, here’s the crux of the matter, the Yin and Yang. This virus and the devastation it’s caused has created an imbalance between the sufferers of Depression and Anxiety. A situation has developed where the anxiety sufferers are not only in the ascendancy but are now ruling the country. They’re ruling with fear, using the potential of death as their threat. There’s only a hairs breath difference between what’s going on and stories of Stalin’s paranoia (An obvious sufferer of anxiety by the way) The country is being subjected to ‘gaslighting’ by them. They’re touching everything in life. If you think that’s ‘far fetched’, then have a really good think about it. Is it any wonder that the sudden sharp increase in recorded infections coincided with the kids going back to school? Schools are traditional breeding grounds for disease. Know anyone that works in a school? They forever ill by any chance? The increase in infections hasn’t resulted in a comparable influx of admittances to hospital, and thus, the ICUs aren’t back up to bursting point and the cemetery shovels and crematorium fires aren’t being overworked again. The anxiety ridden Mayor of Brum has burdened us with extra restrictions. The second biggest city in the country with a population of 1,100,000 didn’t record a single death in the week that preceded the extra restrictions, yet we’re being subjected to them. Our media has been infiltrated by anxiety sufferers. The Birmingham Mail who reported the lack of a fatality, led with the headline of a doubling of patients in ICU. No numbers were announced, the damage was done with the word ‘doubled’. It’s sensationalism at its worst. Even the television producers are at it. Any programmes that are either live or have been filmed post Lockdown, have ‘socially distanced’ presenters. Do you really believe that they stay socially distanced off camera? Course not, it’s to aid with gaslighting the masses. Even the mask thing. Depressives are being denied vital connections with fellow human beings. A smile means a lot. Is it any wonder that when an anxiety sufferer has a panic attack, they reach for a bag to breathe into? What is a mask if you’re not breathing in your own carbon dioxide? Anxiety sufferers are actually reveling in this virus as the depressives become more withdrawn. The walls to their lives are being pushed in by the anxiety sufferers. Anyway, after a train ride chatting about excuses made during marriage to get us out of situations of our own making, me and Taffy touched down in Hednesford. Don’t worry Taff, no indiscretions will be revealed on here mate. We walked up from the station to The Bridge Inn. A couple of Salopian beers had made it over the border into Staffordshire. The one, I hadn’t seen before, the barman (Another camp one) let us have a taster, Taff was impressed, and had a pint, I decided to stick with one of their stock brews that was more to my liking. Taffy got a phone call from Ian Lake, he’d just touched down himself. Instead of him coming to us, I suggested meeting up with him at the Hedd’s Ford, a little micro pub. I somehow did the usual and contrived to go the wrong way. it wasn’t the first time, wasn’t to be the last time before we got the train home and no doubt, it’ll happen in the future. As we watched a couple of tumbleweeds get blown down the main, and really, only street of Hednesford at a time it should’ve been busy with Saturday shoppers, we spotted Ian, who informed us that the micro pub was shut. We decided to cut our losses and head for the Cross Keys. A pub near to where Hednesford Towns old ground used to be located. One time player and assistant manager, Chris Brinley, still runs the place. The front bar was full with no anti-social distancing and included a couple of lads in Blues tops. We migrated to the lounge where we found somewhere we could watch the Baggies getting beaten by Everton, but not until after we’d checked in. I’m not even sure if it’s a way of detecting whether someone has had too much to drink. Something else for the Covid Gestapo to stamp down on. A first pint of Dark Drake from the Dancing Duck brewery drank, Jinksy landed. We had another, Ian told us a few stories of a couple of the rougher pubs in the suburbs of Brum. My sides genuinely hurt from laughing at one story of one licensee having to bar her own brother for fighting in her own pub. We walked up to the ground.
Ian informed us that Hednesford were in the process of just having been taking over and that things were starting to look a bit more rosier. I remembered back in the early part of this millennium, Andy Shaw leaving Hednesford in the lurch to pitch up at Telford United, where his money ran out before his ambitions did. His legacy however, are two quite substantial and in Non-League terms, well equipped football grounds.
There weren’t any programmes being sold due to Coronavirus. I didn’t bother arguing that a smaller club like Shifnal could produce them with no lame virus excuses, it’s just another rubbish thing we’re having to put up with in all this created chaos. It wasn’t long after we’d settled down to watch the game, that the first incident happened and was to ultimately change the outcome of the match. The home side were reduced to 10 men after the referee had brandished the red card, deeming the challenge bad enough to warrant a punishment that was befitting. I’ve since seen the challenge on YouTube, courtesy of a link that Jinksy put on our WhatsApp group, (Look at me sounding like I’ve been hit with the technology stick) and it’s a harsh decision to say the least. The away side took the lead, we could just make out Jim and Jarrod going barmy amongst the 125 travelling contingent. It was just nice to be at a game where there was definitely both home and away fans, albeit Covid Gestapo limited. The attendance had been limited to 800. A figure that no doubt would have been double given natural circumstances. Hednesford managed to regroup, got a break and equalised. 1:1 was how the half ended. We went to get a drink at the bar. There’s no clamour round a bar anymore. You have to queue. I was reminded of what it must’ve felt like in bread queues when there was a shortage. Was this how it was for countries behind the Iron curtain, or during World War 2? The new owners mingled round the room, spreading their gospel and receiving feedback. Doing it separately so they could cover more ground, well carpet anyway. The longer we were in the queue, the more determined we were to get a drink and the less time we had to drink it in. By the time we’d finished and got back outside, Stourbridge had retaken the lead.
Taffy told us that Hednesford were down to 10 men. Somehow, that nugget of information had bypassed him when it had actually happened. Unsurprisingly, we gleefully pointed this out to our, now red faced, friend. A Covid Gestapo steward asked us to move apart. We were having none of that, and successfully argued the point. Defeated, he moved off to harass other groups of fans. The Glassboy’s started to impose their numerical advantage, and stretched their lead even further. Soon after, they added a fourth. The dubious sending off had done its damage.
We went back to the Cross Keys for one before we went our different ways. Jinksy teamed back up with Jim, Jarrod and the lads he’d been drinking with before, me and Taff went back to the station. We’d have got back to the station earlier had I not done my usual, and taken a wrong turning. It didn’t do Taffy any good and he was soon having to reach for his inhaler. I may not have the speed of Daryl, but I’m not shabby when it comes to walking at pace. I had two options, either give Taff a piggy back, or slow down. I slowed down. I’d remarked on my blog post for the Highgate game that as Wrexham wasn’t renowned for its mines, it was for other reasons for his breathing. Taff has rightly informed me of my gap in knowledge. On a personal note for him, it was cement that did for him. Not taking it as sugar in his tea but working with it when he was a lot younger. He won’t mind me saying this, but it pales in to insignificance compared to the Gresford mining disaster that happened 86 years ago on the 22nd of this month. Gresford mine was within the borough of Wrexham and 266 brave miners lost their lives in an underground explosion there. It’s utterly disgraceful that the authorities decided to leave 255 bodies where they fell, denying them and their families a proper funeral. It’s a horrific disaster that is largely forgotten, possibly due to the outbreak of the Second World war 5 short years later, but one that needs to be remembered. Catching the train, I noticed someone had dumped the box their new trainers had come in, with their old trainers now in it. I didn’t pay much attention to it if I’m being honest but it was to prove a Godsend to one of the women who got on at Cannock. Apparently, prosecco had got the better of one of them, and they’d painted the old trainers with prosecco and diced carrots. I have to say though, she had enough class to take the mess with her when they both got off at Bloxwich. Me and Taffy carried on, touching down back at New Street. It felt strangely reassuring to see so many people getting off and milling around the concourse without those abominable masks on. Like we were starting to reclaim life back. One with freedom and choice. One without the oppressive control we’re now under, with its unnecessary restrictions. Me and Taffy split, before I made my way to the Brummie drinking oasis. The Wagon and Horses. (Confused? Good, you should be)
If you actually see any references to the Bull in the photo above, please ignore them, they’re just being loaned. There’s many things I’m utterly and inexplicably useless at, remembering people’s names is one of them. The infuriating thing for me personally, is that I remember loads about a person, but the ability to remember their actual name escapes me. First of all, it’s not Jean but Fran (I renamed her as Jean in my Highgate post). Thankfully, at least I managed to miss calling her the wrong name before remembering her right name. Anyway, I remarked on her team Coventry doing well the previous evening. See, I discover things about people, instantly remember them, just not their name. After a Churchend Coffin stout and a chat to Bob, (Probably only remember that because he has the same name as my eldest sisters long suffering husband) I toddled off home.