25/9/21 Blues v Preston North End, Blank Expression.

Even with not being able to watch Blues for almost a season and a half, home games are still no match for an away game. After last Saturday, I wasn’t ‘feeling it’. The performance, or lack of, had really left me flat. As I caught the bus into town, I’d no thoughts on how the game would turn out. Didn’t think we’d win, didn’t think we’d lose, nothing. Just nothing. Getting off in town, everything was getting geared up for the Gay Pride parade. I know they weren’t able to have one last year for obvious reasons, but it still seems to be growing larger every year. If I’m being honest, I don’t ‘get it’. I’m not homosexual and I’m not homophobic either. I just don’t understand the need to be ‘in your face’ with it. I would be just as happy with seeing a couple of the same gender, holding hands, as I am seeing a heterosexual couple holding hands. We have this romantic notion when we see an old couple holding hands, that they’re still ‘in love after all these years’. The fact that it could be a brand new relationship, never crosses our minds. It’s all preconception, and misconception. It’s the third millennium if you believe the date, scientists have proven that the world has actually been around a lot longer. Why can’t people of the same sex be able to show affection in public without fear of ridicule or threat of physical violence? It should just be seen as natural. Why does society think an old couple holding hands is ‘cute’, yet is repulsed by two people of the same sex doing exactly the same thing? Like it or not, all your beliefs are taught you. The more knowledge you have, the better decisions you can make. Is it intelligent to shut your mind to anything, just because it goes against what you thought you knew? We are forever evolving, always learning. We are human beings and we should thrive to continually improve. Never believing you are better or worse than the next person, because you’re not, you’re just different. Get on with it. I landed in the Welly, and unconsciously did the same trick as usual. I never look along the bar at the beer clips, instead, I immediately look at the VDU before making my choice. Having made my choice, inevitably, it almost always seems to be the pump straight in front of me on the bar. Daryl came in and almost straight after, so did Ian. Ian was being all political correct and attending the parade. It’s a byproduct. Firms and organisations have to be seen to support it or face the stigma of not supporting it. Like myself, Ian is neither homosexual or homophobic, but being high up in the RMT, he’s got to be seen as supporting it. That’s the stage we’re at. I can’t understand why we can’t live together in harmony, without the need for demonstrations of who we are and what we’re about. Ian had been to a ‘Peaky Blinders night’ at the Black Country living museum the previous night, and was waxing lyrical about it. It actually sounded really good. From what he was telling us, the museum might be worth visiting next summer. Several things put me off visiting museums. First of all, I worked at Ironbridge Gorge Museum and I know the tricks that are used. Things like exhibits that are made to look like cast iron, but are really fibre glass. Another thing that really puts me off is getting caught up in school parties. They’re just so extremely annoying. JK came in just before Ian left and then Steve came in, his face was a picture. (I didn’t take one, you’ll just have to take my word.) Steve is quite conservative in his views, but he was the same opinion as me with the parade. It wouldn’t matter where you were to try and head to, you would encounter it. Logistically speaking, it was a nightmare. Much as I really like the place, the Colemore was just easier to get to.

“Least it was colourful”

Same as the Welly, people were coming in from the parade, just to use the toilet facilities. Other than them, the pub was much more empty than usual. The parade may have attracted loads of people into the city centre, but it seemed to be having a detrimental impact on the usual Saturday business. Daryl and JK chose to go to the Woodmam next, me and Steve wanted to do Kilda. Getting there was to prove a mission almost impossible. The parade was in full swing and dodging through it so we didn’t get caught up on the wrong side of the barriers, on the wrong side of the road, meant we needed to move, and move fast. Much to both mine and Steve’s relief, we just managed it. Spoons was already in Kilda when we got there. He didn’t go to Peterborough, he’d been on a vintage diesel train down in Penzance. Spoons is a kaleidoscope of a personality and has a multitude of interests that you wouldn’t expect from someone with his dress sense. The more you get to know him, the more he reveals. He’s simply one of the most interesting people you’re ever likely to meet. I truly feel honoured to class him as a friend. I’ve stated many times that he doesn’t do technology and hasn’t got a mobile phone. He does however, have a small digital camera which he takes everywhere. He showed us some of the photos he’d taken of his trip. Taking photos isn’t my forte. When it was mechanical, I used to be quite good. Mobile phone wise, I don’t take a good one. It could be that I always feel self conscious when I’m taking a picture. I never like to be seen as a tourist obsessed with his phone and taking photos, so tend to end up rushing it. My Son on the other hand, takes an absolute brilliant photo. No small feat given that he is severely colour blind. He somehow always catches the light perfectly and his photos have a depth to them that I can never achieve. I know as a parent, you can be biased most, if not all of the time, but he could easily take it up professionally. Paul came in, yet another I hadn’t seen since before the virus. It was good to get an update on his health, as he’s had major problems with his heart. We took a walk down to Halton Turner. Badge was already there. Though not going to the game, he was hoping to see a Preston North End supporting mate of his. Ian had also finished watching the parade, and was now back in game mode. After having a rotten pint in the place last time, I wasn’t happy that not only was the chocolate stout not on, but the mango milkshake I fancied ran out just after ordering and paying for it, the next batch needing to be connected up before I could have it. I know it’s just bad luck, but it wasn’t exactly endearing me to the place. Ian Lake and Jinksy were outside Bob’s, Jinksy had been working and hadn’t been able to get out any earlier. Ian was out for a beer, but wasn’t going to the game. Ade was there boring everyone to death with that irritating nasal voice of his. It’s worse than white noise. I walked up to the ground on my own with the intention of getting a programme and a MIB. Again, Dave wasn’t there, he really must’ve stopped producing it, and the programmes had sold out again too.

For once, I made kickoff, though not through design. Like I’ve already intimated, I had no thoughts of how the game was going to pan out. Roberts had been replaced by the on loan, Sanderson due to injury, Hogan had replaced Jukiewicz, due to a tactical change and Friend because there was just no one else to replace Pedersen, who was also injured. I’m never happy when a centre defensive partnership is broken up for any reason other than a horrendous drop in form. It’s the one place on the pitch where you need excellent communication and trust. Even after shipping 7 goals in the previous 2 games, I hadn’t felt the partnership warranted breaking up. Injury is a different story. Something that couldn’t be helped. Hogan up front could give us something slightly different, but Friend at fullback was not something I wanted to see. Friend on the substitute bench is not something I want to see. In fact, Friend at Birmingham City is something I don’t want to see. I simply don’t trust him. I’m not expecting him to let us down everytime the ball goes anywhere near him, but sooner or later, he will. As a football supporter, you like to have trust in the defenders playing for your club. I wouldn’t trust Friend to post a letter for me if I could see the post box from the window. As games go, it wasn’t really one that will live long in the memory bank. It was hard fought, with chances at a premium. Neither team looked like they were ever going to score, and although 3 points would’ve been welcome to either side, the game didn’t deserve a winner. A clean sheet, the rot stopped, a point gained, but not really the flowing football I’ve seen and want to see from the team we’ve got. At times like this, you look for answers, look for reasons. Sometimes in your haste and passion, you can get it badly wrong. Point fingers of blame at the wrong places and the wrong people. As you’re reading this, no doubt you’ve Friend in mind as my whipping boy. He’s not, I just don’t trust him and thus haven’t high expectations of him. Tuesday night is another game, different opposition, and I’ll be there in West London watching it. None of the questions I wanted answering were resolved on Saturday. I’m too long in the tooth to know that it doesn’t happen overnight, but like Saturday, I have no idea how the game against Queens Park Rangers will go either.

Still with that feeling of disappointment, I went back to the Spotted Dog. The usual crowd were in there and the atmosphere was as flat as I was feeling. I suppose after not being able to go to Blues for 18 months, I should really be more grateful than I am, but then football is such an emotive game. It can make or break your week. Beer does help, I’m not going to lie. It blurs the edges, sort of puts life in perspective. It’s Blues, I should be used to it. It’s when you look around at your mates, at fellow fans. It’s then that you realise that you’re being daft letting disappointment effect your mood. It’s not like you haven’t been through it before, and it’s not like you won’t go through it again. Time to enjoy being who you are and what you’re about. Just don’t need a parade to show it. The one thing I really did want to do on Saturday, was visit the newly acquired and reopened White Swan. An ex Marston’s owned pub, it had been brought by the bloke who owns POV, the Welly, Woodman and Bull. One thing you know with Nige, he will always sell a good range of ale. The other thing is that he will look after the decor and it’s features. The White Swan is a beautiful pub and has been missed. I don’t suppose I was the only one in there thinking the same thing. Bugner, one of the places old regulars was in there, as was the Dog crew.

“The best tattoos in Bournemouth”

It had taken all day, but finally that old Blues feeling had returned.

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