Life, good or bad, happens. Some things are instant and come as a complete surprise, some things are drawn out and how ever much you want to stop them, they will still happen. You can put contingency plans in place, try and prepare yourself as best you can emotionally and physically, but they’ll still find a way of tripping you up. Get as many parenting help books as you want, (And there’s hundreds) your child will still unwittingly find something that isn’t in any of them. Guaranteed, that none of their siblings will ever do or be, exactly the same either. A very good workmate of mine had been pestering me to claim for P.P.I., as he had done the same and he’d found himself in possession of a substantial amount of compensation. My Mom like me, was a pessimist. It was something born out of a life that hadn’t been very fortuitous towards her. Because she’d been burnt badly with a claim for a discount on a pair of spectacles, (They’d cost her £70 and after filling out an in depth claim form, she had been awarded the pricely sum of 70 pence) forever after, although entitled to anything, she wouldn’t claim. I’d been nurtured/influenced to be the same. In the end, just to shut my mate up, I went down to a branch of my bank and asked about claiming. To my utter disbelief, instead of the teller setting the alarm off and calling for security, she couldn’t have been more helpful. She gave me all the details of loans I’d had, and the phone number for the claim line. I phoned up, had forms sent to me to sign, it was up and running. A few weeks later, I had a letter informing me I had been successful with my claim and that I was being reimbursed. I read the letter several times, kept focusing on the sum of money that was heading back into my account. Even with paying off the rest of my last outstanding debt, (Ironically, a loan I had from the same bank) I was in clover. This is why I say life happens, good or bad and it’s the way it’s supposed to be. No point getting stressed, just relax and react as best you can. If my bank balance was looking more healthier than it had ever had, my Mom was the least healthy she’d ever been. She’d been admitted to hospital for what would be the last time. Me, Les and Chris shared visiting as much as we could. Val was travelling up from where she lives just outside London, as many times as hubby John’s shifts would allow. She was still working herself as it was. I myself, was visiting every day when I was on early shift, but couldn’t when I was on afternoon shift. Had I not had my P.P.I back, I’m not sure how I would’ve coped, if I’m being honest. Either financially or emotionally. As stated, I can’t drive. It was train to Shrewsbury, bus to the hospital. That doesn’t exactly sound much of an effort, but watching your Mom crumble away in front of you, is.
I didn’t resent making the regular trip to see her in hospital, I didn’t resent making the trip, only for her to be asleep. I’d wait patiently for her to awake, before giving up and catching the bus back into town. A lot of visits included me requesting of the nurses to tell my Mom that I’d been there. As many visits had me talking to a husk of a woman whose hearing was nonexistent. Sometimes, she was alert and fully able to communicate. Those particular beautiful days became rarer as her health faded. Us kids kept in touch with updates of our own visits, but she was disappearing fast. I resented what life had done to her worn out body. I used an awful lot of the P.P.I. money on beer in the pubs of Shrewsbury, just to soften the edges. I was not only losing my Mom, but I was losing the one person who understood the depression we both suffered from. I’m not whinging and whining about it, just stating fact. I’m not going to wax lyrical about how great my Mom was, because quite simply, she wasn’t. Like every other normal person, she had her hang-ups. Like everyone else, she had her faults and qualities, but she was my Mom, our Mom, just Mom. I loved her, we loved her. I’m not going to relay the day she died, only that it had a strange kind of symmetry to it. As did when in the year she died. Again, I’m going to keep that within the family, because it’s really only special to us, and Mom WAS special to us. Right, enough of that, on to Blues and Yeovil. Like I said in my last awful post, Lee Clark was hog tied at Blues. The important players contracts had finished, and they walked off to pastures new. Jack Butland, the only real bright spot, had been sold just to keep us going. Clark and his number two, Malcolm Crosby, worked ridiculously hard, bringing in a ragtag group of misfits on far less wages than the ones leaving. We were a world away from the League Cup win. it had been less than 3 years ago, yet it might as well have been 30. Yeovil on the other hand, had only been promoted into the league 10 years previously. After winning promotion through the playoffs the previous season, they were now in the Championship with us. Yeovil is an average sized town. A typical back water type of place. That’s not being disrespectful to the place, I’m sure it’s a lovely place to live, but in footballing terms, they’re a small club. Tiny compared to us, minuscule compared to the likes of Arsenal or Newcastle. Why am I making the comparison? Only Yeovil had a lower wage bill than us in the division. Not only was a transfer fee out of the question, but so were decent wages for decent players. Clark in all honesty, was trying to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just flip-flops. Halfway through the walk/season, he was to have his coat taken off him. It was hammering it down with rain. So what of this back water place called Yeovil? The win in the playoffs had me scrambling for the G.B.G. (Yes, I’d treated myself to one, and I had started to plan my away trips) I was immensely disappointed to find that there was only one entry. I found out that Yeovil had two train stations, neither was situated in the town centre, nor was the ground itself. To make it even more inhospitable for an away fan, neither station was anywhere near the ground. It was however, a ‘must do’, novelty of a game, and tickets sold out quickly. I was always going to get a season ticket, the P.P.I. just made it easier. I managed to get a ticket for the game. I travelled down through Bristol and after touching down, traipsed from the main station to the centre of town. I met up with Badger in the William Dampier Wetherspoons before we went in search of the only G.B.G. entry. He’d got a rough map, but we were getting lost. When I was young, my Mom always said that if you wanted directions to somewhere, the best thing to do, was ask a policeman. (It was before the political correctness of today). I know from experience, that it’s rubbish advice. I was to learn off Badge, that the best person to ask, is a postal worker if you were to spot one on their round. The Postal workers of an area, are far better than any local constabulary. I’d also noticed that we’d been getting plenty of looks as we’d walked through the town centre. At first, I thought it was because we stood out because we were Brummie and they could tell by our dress sense. It dawned on me that Badge was the only black person. They weren’t looking at us, he was the novelty. After help from the postman we’d asked, (Yes, he was a he………..I think. There wasn’t a medical examination involved though) we rocked up at The Quicksilver Mail. In truth, the selection wasn’t the best, but was well kept. We were informed by the owner, a long term active Manchester City fan, that “There’s more of you lot outside”. We went outside to where they were. Badge knew them. Thing is with Badger, everyone seems to know him. You can not go anywhere with him, without him knowing someone, or more importantly, someone knowing him. It was the first time I was to meet Russell, Nick and a couple of their Royal Mail crew. I instantly understood the directions tip. As with what was actually a gorgeous summer’s day, it was nice being out in the garden. I’m actually quite a shy person, so spent most of the time laughing more than joining in. One particular member of the crew was enthralling with his amusing anecdotes. I actually remembered him from the silly hat brigade that used to stand near the back and centre of the Kop. There had been 4 of them, and they wore hand knitted blue and white hooped skull caps. The rest ordered something off the menu whilst we were all being plagued by wasps. Although it did look nice, I wasn’t hungry. It was soon time to get to the ground. While we waited for the taxi, bizarrely, a car drove on to the carpark, stopped near us, asked if we were going to the game, which we said yes, they then turned the car round, waved and drove off. We made the ground ok. How we were going to get back, I wasn’t sure.
It was Yeovil’s first home game in the Championship, and they were determined to mark the occasion. It was a proper Lord Mayor’s show, complete with some kind of local opera singer. It felt like Shrewsbury all those years ago, but with a woman warbling. The match itself was a poor game, between poor players. If ever the phrase ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show’ was coined for anything disappointing after a spectacular opening ceremony, it was thought up for this. 0:0 at half time, I went to sit on the grass behind the away end. I was not surprisingly, in a reflective mood. The second half started, and almost immediately, the only goal of the game was scored. I was going to write winning goal, but that alludes to it being a thing of opportunism, of guile, of effort. It wasn’t just an own goal, but it was a scrappy own goal. Thankfully for the travelling Blues support, it was chalked up for the away team. It may have actually been the only way that we were going to score in all honesty. it certainly wasn’t a goal that befitted the occasion. Combined, inept finishing and desperate defending, enabled the points to travel back to civilisation. There was, however, a good chance that if the points were going back to Brum on the back of a horse and cart, they’d have still got back before any of the support did.
I walked out of the ground and couldn’t see any of the lads I’d been with. I attempted to follow the home support in the belief that they were heading back into town. the more I walked, the more I was getting lost. I needed to take drastic action. I veered down a road that looked promising, before ducking into a pub called The Royal Standard. Looking along the bar, I noticed that they at least had proper cider. (Not that fizzy vinegar that is labelled up as Strongbow or Woodpecker) in fairness to the locals in there, they couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful. I needed a taxi to the station, there was no way I was going to make it by walking. Even Daryl wouldn’t have made it. One of the locals phoned his taxi driving mate, who got me back to the station in time. The train was late, and got later. Blues fans who had had the sense to stop in Weymouth for the weekend, waved at us from their train when it arrived. Our train got later and later. It was now apparent, we weren’t going to make the connection from Bristol. We were told that the train was on its way, but would only take us to the next station as it had mechanical problems. The plan was at Bristol, we would be transferred onto coaches (As there was far more than just one coach load of us) to take us back to Brum. The train eventually made it and duly dumped us all at the next station. It was a small station, in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Yet there was fixed crowd control barriers and ramps. it was odd to say the least. A few months later, I watched a documentary that featured the station. It turned out to be the nearest station to where they hold Glastonbury music festival. That explained all the measures that were in place. One Blues fan worked out that if we stayed on the train to Reading, instead of getting off at Bristol, we could then get a connection back to Brum. No having to be cramped up on a coach. So that’s what we all did. We managed to get home and we’d won. We then went and got drawn away against them in the League Cup. Unsurprisingly, a lot gave that particular game a miss.
FOOTNOTE:- There wasn’t a dry eye at my Mom’s well attended funeral a few days later. She’d left quite an impression on people. R.I.P. Mom.