Firstly, a very Happy New Year to you all. From my point of view it is already looking better than last year. Besides anything else Palace actually advanced beyond the third round of the F.A. Cup for once! By this point last year Palace were already out of the Cup, there had been a significant argument within Lorraine's family, Lorraine herself had taken two hypos and my boss had become the first person of the year to get knocked off my Christmas card list (which he went back on by the time I wrote my cards - I probably only rank behind Les Dennis in terms of forgiving people ridiculously easily).
Anyway, I'm sure you want to know what we got up to over the New Year period, so here's an update for you.
With Neil here on another visit and with Lorraine each having some annual leave to take, we had a few days of sightseeing and general relaxation. Neil really has "been there, done that" when it comes to most Scottish tourist attractions, so we had to think of somewhere new to take him. After much thought (and stockpiling of tapes for the car) we headed off to the reasonably new Loch Lomond visitor centre.
Now a lot of people have pondered over which of the three of us is the worst for directions. Well, on this afternoon the three of us combined suitably well, managing to drive about twenty miles beyond the visitor centre before stopping, consulting a map, and then turning back. Now that's what I call teamwork!
After an hour and a half of looking out on Loch Lomond in what was rapidly becoming darkness we headed home, had dinner, and then proceeded to put our heads together before coming to the decision that watching "Notting Hill" on DVD would be a good way to spend our evening. You'll know Neil's capacity for amusement with liquid refreshments already, needless to say that in a darkened room this only increases. I'll leave most of it to your imagination, but let's just say that there were a few instances where we were trying to stop Cookie (that's our dog, just in case you weren't paying attention) from drinking Neil's spillages from the kitchen floor.
New Year's Eve itself was relatively quiet. After seeing in the New Year with friends we headed back home to check on Cookie, and found that lots of idiots were still setting off fireworks, just what Cookie didn't want. He was petrified, so we ended up staying in for an hour to make sure he was okay.
From there we made our way to another friend's house, where a karaoke machine was setup. As you all know, Neil becomes a star when he gets a microphone in his hand. So while I was mucking around and trying to pass on the microphone as if it was a piece of radioactive waste, Neil was having a great time.
That was until Neil was preparing to sing a karaoke version of "I've Got You Babe" with a lady we know. Lots and lots of "This is the start coming up," and "You've got the first line," type comments, no singing, and just a few seconds before the end of the song another guest at the party spoke up and asked, "Is this an instrumental?" Excellent stuff.
On New Year's Day itself unfortunately Neil wasn't very well. No, nothing to do with the night before, just a cold/flu type bug he had picked up. Stuck under a duvet trying to get well, he was comforted by Cookie, who was determined to jump up beside him and look after him. I don't care if you don't like animals, or if dogs make you frightened, you have to love our dog! He's the best, I will not argue about this.
Neil left on the 2nd, and life returned to normal. However having seen Jamie Mitchell's death in "Eastenders" at my local Snooker Club, we were both sitting back on our respective sofas 400 miles apart for his funeral.
It promised to be tense, as his fianc?e Sonia arrived late, then gave an emotional speech. She was holding a stereo, ready to play the song that would have been played at their wedding. Would she have the strength to press the "play" button?
She just about made it, and in one of the most twisted twists I've ever seen out came "Evergreen" by Will Young. Will Young! If I was actor Jack Ryder I would have had to have made Jamie Mitchell do a Bobby Ewing. If a Will Young song came on at my funeral I'd be scratching desperately inside the coffin to get out. Over my dead body? No thanks!
As if I wasn't laughing enough already, Neil's take on proceedings only made me laugh more. He said he was reminded of the line "Drop that ghetto blaster!" from the old S Express song. A scene which should have been very poignant became side-splittingly funny (and before anyone think's I'm a sick person I should tell you that I'm not the only one who thought that).
Have a good week!