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Sunday 16th December, 2018

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 7th August 2006
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
So did the remainder of 1996 get any better? Not really.

As a result of not obtaining graduate employment I got a temporary job. The problem was that I didn't ask for it and it happened to be with my parents. My parents' office wasn't exactly high-tech. It was freezing cold in the winter and roasting in the summer, and my parents worked long hours there.

Working with my parents wasn't the only problem I had with them at the time. I was back to living with them after being at university. Just about everyone I've spoken to who has been in that position said that it has been the time they had the most arguments with their parents, and I was no exception to that. Not good times.

In fact things were so bad I actually booked myself on a train and proceeded to take a second disastrous trip to Scotland. Following on from February's fun-filled trip I then managed to out-do myself and tell an old female friend that everyone she knew in Portsmouth thought she was a big liar (a fact, by the way). It is one thing to do this in a home setting, to do so on a day trip to Edinburgh was an especially bad idea. She spent the train journey back west filing and polishing her nails in complete silence.

In my entire life I don't think I had ever managed to stuff up so much with the fairer sex. I finally got to the point where I was so fed up that I swore off women for a year (unsurprisingly no-one ever noticed). A pretty interesting comparison to make is what my friend Scott was doing at the time.

All friends at some point take different routes in life, and that was especially true of Scott and I. We took drastically different paths, as by the end of the year Scott was married. Did I mention that he got married in Romania? So along with everything else my best mate (at the time) moved overseas and denied me any opportunity to be a best man thanks to my working for my parents for free. Incidentally the weather on the day that Scott got married was heavy snow and -20c temperature, maybe that was a lucky break for me that I couldn't afford to go.

(Ten years on and I've still not had the chance to be a best man. It could be 1996's lasting curse on me. By the way, I don't believe in curses and have a university degree. Back to the article.)

At least by the end of the year I was hernia-free. I had my operation in mid-September, complete with the necessary arrows drawn on my leg to show where the surgeon needed to cut. This was after countless check-ups, the best of which had to have been when I was examined by a student. The student diagnosed me, and then proceeded to have a conversation with the doctor about what might happen if they didn't operate. It was the closest I've ever been to fainting in my entire life.

The timing for my operation was pretty bad. It prevented my Step-Dad from attending all of a conference in Birmingham (he left while I was coming out of the anaesthetic), I missed the news that Dave Bassett wasn't leaving Palace for Manchester City (only for him to go to Nottingham Forest six months later) and most of all I missed my friends, as most had returned to university while I recuperated. Even the letters from my Scottish friends dried up, I only received one while I recovered (thank you, Mrs McCabe).

For those of you who remember the six-a-side team my friends and I used to have I should also add in how we did in the tournament we played in that summer. We played eight games, lost all eight, scored three goals and conceded thirty-eight. We lost our last game 8-0. Half the team had been brought in by my old friend Zimmer and spent most of the day mucking about and smoking (probably not just tobacco either). Not fun.

So what was the best thing about 1996? Eventually it ended, and when it did so I had the house to myself, a car to drive and my loyal friends to share my problems and look forward to the coming year with. It was the last New Year's Eve I spent in England, and everyone left my parents' house before 1am. Pity, as I stuck on some music and watched the New Year celebrated live in New York. 5am. Lightweight by Scottish standards.


There were some good things that happened in 1996. Maybe one day I'll remember enough of them to properly redress the balance in a similar article here. The best thing I can say is that when times are bad you find out who your friends are. For everyone who remembers any of these incidents in my life please know that I remember you being there for me, and I hope that I've been as much of a friend to you as you've been for me.

Have a good week!

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