Category Archives: Sport

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.

Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)


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Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.

When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)



The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.


Public transport.

Sri Lanka.






New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.


Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.


Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.




The dictionary.






Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.


Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?


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Things I am grateful for #10 & 11

Softball & Baseball.

I first took up softball in Ireland back in 1992 when I was 28 and played for about 10 years. I absolutely loved  it.

For about 9 of those years I played for a team called The Thirteen Threes. (Named after the 13.3 second world record for running around a baseball diamond.) I actually did it in 13.1 seconds. No, seriously. But that was on a softball diamond which is about 30 yards shorter.

For the last year, I played for our arch nemesis – The Troops. But, to be fair, a lot of my mates played for them.

The highlight of the season was the summer cup competitions which were held over the weekend, either in Cork or Galway. For teams like us, it was just an excuse for a major piss-up. And it never failed to disappoint.

I was lucky enough to play shortstop for most of my softballing days. And saw myself very much like this…

How I see myself playing softball.

How I see myself playing softball.

I suspect this was closer to reality…

How I actually play softball.

How I actually play softball.

As I said, I loved playing the game, not just for the sport, but because of the team spirit and camaraderie, and the innumerable wonderful people I met whilst playing it.

Could’ve done without breaking most of my pinkies though. The worst was a double fracture and dislocation sliding into second base. Still, not as bad as having my palate fractured from taking a ball in the mouth. Or having my nose shattered for a similar reason. Both of which happened to teammates.

For that, I am truly grateful.

I got into watching baseball as a result of playing softball. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch it on TV over in the UK. (Not sure why American Football deserves that much more coverage.) So I buy the odd DVD or watch clips on YouTube and imagine I’m the one getting the triple play. (I use a hairbrush as a microphone on weekends.)


This was the Thirteen Threes in Cork in about 1993. That’s me, fag in hand, dipping under the railing. Not sure where I’m going. It certainly wasn’t onto the pitch as we were spectators. I think we might’ve actually been watching The Troops in the final. (We were all mates.)

From left to right: I think that’s Al O’Donohoe (with his sweet cheeks to camera), Peter somebody (he was new), John Flynn (the gaffer), Briain Wright, Ian Doherty, yours truly, Bernadette Dooley, Tony Purcell and Liz Flynn. No idea who the geezer is on the far right. So many more teammates not in this shot who I am still close friends with today.


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To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.


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Gold for London 2012 – A marathon event.

As you clever people probably know, the marathon sporting event got its name from The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC between the Persians, under Darius I, and Athens.

A force of 10,000 Athenians took on an estimated 600,000 invading Persians on the plains of Marathon, north east of Athens.

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Marathon today. (Or yesterday. Not sure when it was taken.)

Under cover of darkness the Athenian hoplites dished out some Greek whupass killing an estimated 6,500 Persians while suffering a meagre 200 dead in reply.

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Athenian hoplites

Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, was promptly dispatched from Marathon to Athens to herald their great victory over the Persians. And the distance? 26 miles, of course. Hence, why the marathon is 26 miles in length.

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You can still visit the Plains of Marathon where the battle took place. But, unfortunately, due to global realignment, it’s been renamed The Battle of Snickers.

That extremely clunky segue leads me on to the point of this post: London 2012 Olympic Games.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an ad by Channel 4 for the Paralympics called Meet the Superhumans, stating that I didn’t have much interest in the Olympics.

But, after Danny Boyle’s [et al] Olympic opening ceremony, I was absolutely gripped by London 2012 fever.

Diametrically apposed to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, this was a celebration of what makes Britain – its people. Everything from farmers and factory workers to suburban life and our glorious NHS.

Music, dance, literature, art, comedy, it was all there in surreal bucket loads. (Could’ve done without the whole Queen nonsense, mind.)

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London 2012 opening ceremony

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London 2012 opening ceremony

To me, the London 2012 Olympics have helped me define what it means to be British. Not whether I am English or part of a group of home nations called England, Scotland and Wales. But a veritable smorgasbord of eclectic cultures and diverse backgrounds from all over the globe.

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London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

The London 2012 Olympics made me feel proud to be British.

Our athletes are the true knights of the realm.

Not business people. Business people get money. That is their reward. That is what they strive for. They don’t do it for Britain. They do it for themselves. And that’s fine. That’s their path.

These athletes chose a different path. They have sacrificed everything just to be called an Olympian. And, maybe, just maybe, be great enough to win a medal.

On Mount Olympus, the mighty Zeus would have made Jessica Ennis a demi-goddess.

Here are just a few of my personal highlights, but I take nothing away from all the other athletes who took part and made it a festival of sport worthy of the ancient gods of Olympus.

I salute you all.

Mo Farah, 5k and 10k

Andy Murray after whuppin’ Federer.

Jade Jones, taekwondo.

Beth Tweddle, gymnastics.

Bradley Wiggins, cycling.

The Brownlee bros., triathlon.

Nicola Adams, first ever woman to win an Olympic medal in boxing. (And she’s from Leeds!)

Jason Kenny, riding a bike.

Laura Trott, going for a jaunt.

The legend – Victoria Pendleton sharing the love.

The demi-goddess, Jessica Ennis, heptathlon.


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