If you’re wondering why I’ve chosen such an insignificant game as this as framework, then I’ll admit that this particular post is more about me and less about Blues. So if you don’t want to know the score, then in time honoured news casting, look away now. If inexplicably, you find the story of my life enthralling, then get yourself comfortable, enjoy and I’ll try not to be too boring. So there I was, stuck in the suspended monotony of domestic bliss, and going nowhere painfully slowly. What transpired is completely and utterly true but will totally understand if you look incredulously at your device from time to time. Blues had been my outlet, my crutch. Indirectly, they were to prove to be my get out too. I’d got on speaking terms with one of the next generation Zulus, and after one particular home game, he introduced me to his Mom. However attractive she was, I never really gave her a second thought, a mate of mine at the time, saw his opportunity to hog the conversation and chat her up. I didn’t get a look in. My mate was one, that if he spotted a lamppost dressed in a skirt, he’d have had a go at chatting that up. Over the following home games, I found myself chatting to her more and more before a home game. Because she was actually attractive, (Probably still is) and much more intelligent than me, (She’d got a degree) I let my guard down, relaxed and was just normal with her. My view was, how on earth could she find me the least bit attractive and interesting? She was not only out of my league but was Premier League to my League Division Two, or that’s how I saw it anyway. Now I’ve written this much, I’d better tell you what her name was/is. Trudi with an ‘i’, not a ‘y’, was gorgeous. She did however, have a genetic medical condition that meant she needed a hip replacement. She’s actually six months younger than me, and was 39 at the time. Hip replacements are usually reserved for the retired. Such is life and the cards we are dealt. Just as she was due to have her operation, she handed me her phone number and requested I’d keep in touch. At this stage, I still saw her as a friend and thought absolutely nothing of it. Of course I’d stay in touch. I left it what I thought would be an approximate, appropriate time, and texted her, I had nothing back and again, thought nothing of it. At Fulham away, I bumped into her son who had originally introduced us, I told Liam about texting her and he advised me to text again, so I did. It was on the Friday before the last game of the season versus Blackburn at home and I was in the process of picking John up, I was on Tipton station, waiting for the train back to Wolverhampton. (I don’t understand why, but we remember specific details that are actually not at all significant or relevant) Although she was still recovering, she vowed to meet me in the St Andrews Tavern beer garden after the game. At this point, it still never once occurred to me that she liked me further more than just friendship. My nephew Dan came with me and John to that Blackburn game, a game we actually won handsomely although we were still relegated. It was a bitter sweet day for a lot of reasons, for a lot of people. The protracted takeover was really starting to get to the Blues support and the final whistle had brought a mass protest at the board of Spivs who owned us. Dan still rates it as one of his all time favourite days. Me? I was just in awe of Trudi explaining teaching, and how to, to Rav as he had just started a temporary teaching job at the very beginning of his career. What could I possibly offer? If I’m being honest, I felt extremely inferior, just a small town hick. In my eyes, she was getting more and more attractive. She was simply the coolest woman I’d ever met, and she’d taken time out to meet me. Little did I know, but I was completely smitten, and still completely oblivious of her attraction to me. The following week, we texted each other. the more she revealed about herself, the more I fell until it was too late. It culminated in the revelation that she didn’t realise I was with Gayle. I hadn’t purposely hidden that rather large fact, but just thought it irrelevant due to not ever believing Trudi could possibly be interesting in me, let alone attracted. It was dilemma time, did I tell her the truth about Gayle?, did I have the bravery to admit to Trudi that I’d fallen in love with her? Could I find sense to quash my feelings and take a step back? Well with a life long record of stupidity under my belt, that last bit was never going to happen. I plucked up the courage to admit to Trudi of my feelings towards her and laid myself bare to be smashed to pieces. The time it took between that fateful text and the reply felt like forever and as I waited, my heart had never beaten so fast. If the National Grid could’ve harnessed the energy that my racing heart beat was producing, it would’ve been enough to keep somewhere like Skegness going for a month. Finally, though it was actually in reality, quite a quick reply though not instant, my phone buzzed. She admitted she felt the same. So it was to the next step. We needed to talk, and talk properly. I quickly arranged to travel over to hers the next day. Work that night provided a welcome distraction for a change, but the day after didn’t go the way I was planning, expecting, or if my brain had anything to do with it, wanted. If my heart had been beating hard and fast enough to power Skegness, while I waited for the reply to that make or break text, it was nothing compared to how it was performing when I got off the bus at the Old Bill and Bull on the Coventry road. The plan was to talk openly and sensibly. (The sensible bit, something new for me, I have to admit) That went out of the window, well, back out of the front door I’d just gained access through. Without saying a word, I bent forward and kissed Trudi, it just felt so right and natural. She fully reciprocated. Until she’d opened the door and saw me standing there, her intentions had been as sensible as mine. To say my mind had been stuck in a food blender and switched to maximum, doesn’t really do it justice. She was the same, her circuitry had been blown. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but she ‘got rid’ of her daughter on some pretext, and we went to bed, it wasn’t to sleep. If the way everything had happened was quick, it was nothing to what was going to happen. Life just got quicker and more hectic. Within a month of the text from Tipton on the Friday, Gayle had found out, we’d split up and I moved in with Trudi. I carried on working nights, but was now commuting to Telford from Brum. A commute that consisted of a a bus into town, a train between Brum and Wolverhampton, and the works bus to the factory in Telford from Wolverhampton. The bizarre thing, the commute back on a Saturday morning actually took less time than the two bus Saturday commute to the council flat I’d shared in Telford with my brother Les. I’m actually quite a laid back character, and am happy to go with the flow. Living with Trudi and her kids was one intense, continuous, constant, lucid drama. They were both needy and expectant. It was both the most exciting time of my life and the most mentally draining. The commute to Telford lasted a month. A drop in production requirements forced major changes. I had been there for 11 years. On the Monday, the night shift on the particular line I was on was called into the main conference room to be told by management that we were to be disbanded and split between the double day shifts. I had no option but to tender my resignation. On the morning shift, making 7 o’clock wasn’t a problem, on the afternoon shift, finishing at 11 o’clock at night, would’ve meant me being potentially stranded in Wolverhampton. It was a risk I wasn’t prepared to take. Two days later, the whole of the companies night shift was called into that same conference room to be offered the chance of a severance agreement. I had jumped too early, and so missed out on £5,000. The agreement was by discretion of the management, and I wasn’t able to retract my resignation. Home life was rapidly changing by the day anyway, and although I now had the predicament of finding work as quickly as possible, I wouldn’t miss out on any of the excitement. What I didn’t realise, and because I’d been going with the flow, my actual role had been diminished to just a cameo. I was nothing more than a bit part in my own life. A general dogsbody without much self worth. We moved from the property in Kathleen road that belonged to a cousin of her ex husband that just so happened to be obsessed with her (The cousin, not the ex) to a council flat that she was able to get through help from her MP. (Seriously, I’m not making any of this up. In fact, there’s more, loads more. Things you just really wouldn’t believe) I don’t know how this transpired, or how it actually worked, but as her daughter had been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa and because of her hip, Trudi was classed as disabled, they both claimed benefit for being the others carer. Life was strange but compelling. Rules were bent, opportunities were grabbed. It gradually dawned on me that I had no say, let alone control over anything whatsoever. My physiological state was in freefall, depression welcomed me like it had never done before. I was an utter mess. I confided in the one person who I needed support from, should’ve had support from. Trudi cut me adrift. My world was in tatters. If you’re sat or stood reading this and thinking “Well it’s your own fault, you’ve deserved this”, then you’re right, I agree with you. I was getting my comeuppance. I was reaping what I’d sowed.
So to Blues then. Like I’ve already stated, we’d been relegated and were in the middle of a promotion campaign. Due to work, money and the simple fact that I followed whatever Trudi did or wanted, away games were nonexistent. I never even made Wolves. Even the home games were strange. It was nice being able to walk to or back from a game, but I wasn’t feeling part of it like I was. I felt like I was being watched when I was in the pub. That I should behave in a certain way, be seen by the right people, but was never truly relaxed like I had been. Felt as though I was on the periphery of things. None of my life was mine. I’d been programmed not to think for myself. The football Blues were playing under Mcleish was functional but productive, much like me, it hadn’t imagination, wasn’t allowed. Now I’ve always said that after a while, home games merge into one another, that a game has to really stand out to be memorable. This particular one finished 3:2 to Blues. I even had to look up the scorers. I don’t actually remember anything about the game, who I was with, and what I did. I just know I went.
I was in such a dark depression that I phoned my eldest sister up to get the number for my doctor with the intention of arranging an appointment, travelling back to Telford and getting help. Chris informed me that my doctor had actually died. The Watford game was to be my last game for over a year. I was due to attend the Reading home game, the last Saturday before Christmas. Me and Trudi had, what actually was, a petty disagreement, but yet again, my viewpoint was being trampled all over. it was the straw that broke this particular camel’s back. My place was brutally revealed to me and it broke my heart. I was still totally in love with Trudi, but to hold onto the last shred of sanity, I needed to leave. The rollercoaster had been fun, but I’d been thrown off. I needed to rebuild myself. Besides, the fronts of double decker buses were looking more and more appealing, and however much I wondered what it would feel like to be run over by one, I knew there wasn’t any guarantee that I wouldn’t survive, and I really didn’t want to survive. I walked out of the flat I shared with Trudi for the last time, in just the clothes I was stood up in. Me and John walked into town, but i needed to say one last good bye to Blues, stopping off at both The Victoria (No longer a pub), and The Forge (Again, no longer a pub), to check on the score (The game was actually televised, and we lost) I took John back to Trelayne, not knowing when I was going to be in any fit state to see him again, let alone have him to look after. On the train back to Telford, I phoned Chris, breaking down on the phone. I was to spend the next three days at hers in tears The flame that I had found so captivating, had enveloped me. See sub heading.