Many of you, I am sure, will have had and may still have an old banger. You can have a great time with one and, as far as car experiences go, for a lot of people it is the lasting love of their vehicle related lives. There is something comfy and reassuring about an old jalopy. You treat it with respect and all the loving care and attention you can muster. A nice cosy bond often develops because of the interest shown and the time spent on it. Alas, in spite of all efforts to keep it going, it regularly breaks down. But even then it is pretty difficult to fault the poor old thing as it chugs away in an effort to survive. In fact you find yourself worried and concerned at the potential loss of what has given you so much pleasure. Not only that, it has taught you a lot about the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts, the whys and wherefores and oh, so many other things about cars. It becomes your future benchmark when buying a car. Simply put, it is of great value and a joy to have. Unfortunately, the banger often toils under the weight of deterioration as some very jaded and tired parts succumb to wear and tear and simply stop the dear old thing from running properly. At such times repairs and replacements are inevitably required if the love-in with the endearing old wreck is to be kept alive. Sadly it can become a question of continuous repairs with work needed on one faulty part after another and then another. Each repair might help but none really solves the problem.
And so it is too with pensionerbhoys, loveable, with interesting stories (usually about the good old days when “men was men” and football was dominated by “green and white” and not “Whyte and Green”) and full of useless information that is often, though quite inexplicably, respectfully admired. Unfortunately, like old bangers they are also extremely prone to breaking down. Then it is necessary, a bit like the car, to have a look at the tailpipe to start with, anyway. In my case this merely led to the exposure of other failings. In the end the damage had spread to the full exhaust and silencer as well. As is often the case, the problems did not end there and with one series of repairs completed, numerous other weaknesses came to light that needed urgent attention. So, like a really old banger, battered and bruised by the constant effort to maintain an active lifestyle, I have been forced to book into the garage for the last few weeks to get several damaged parts repaired. Like the exhaust tailpipe syndrome, it started with a slight niggle in my back then expanded fairly rapidly into fully blown back trouble which meant I could not sit for any length of time in one place – just like when I was a wee boy. The start of my second childhood, perhaps. This particular problem spread from right to left, then left to right, up and down and all around, a bit like Broony in one of his headless-chicken-all-over-the-park games. In appearance I resembled more a pygmy Yeti discovered by Attenborough somewhere in the barren wastes or a Neanderthal relic dug up by Mr. Robinson and his Time Team than the strange bearded old gent at the top of the road that the kids find really scary. Consequently, as chairs are unsuitable for either creature, I have found it nay impossible to use my laptop. It certainly has curtailed my daily activities though my wife maintains she could detect no distinct difference given I was always an under-performer anyway. I have no idea how she could reach that conclusion given all her headaches.
As if that was not enough to keep the old dog down, I also developed problems in my fingers. Each morning I was waking up to blooded slashes on my finger tips as if I had become a somnambulant self-harmer during the night, but one who had not quite grasped the concept. Having hunkered my way to the doctors’ surgery, I was informed by the nurse that I had – wait for it – washing-up liquid poisoning, a clean cut diagnosis if ever there was one. Feeling anything but bubbly (ooooh!), I was given antiseptic cream to put on each day and a special soap to wash my hands. Understandably, this stopped me doing my thing on the keyboard but more disturbingly meant I could not “do the dishes”. I have had a hard time of it and it has been disturbing watching the wife doing everything, especially when she “under-performs” or “multi-tasks” i.e. starts doing many things all at the same time but actually finishes none! Thank God we do not have that talent, lads. I diverse as usual. The tips have not fully recovered but, out of sheer frustration, I am only using the cream when I have nothing to do – and I am off Fairy Liquid indefinitely of course (it could have been so much easier if it was Lent rather than Christmas time). I have now created a daily window for myself to scratch my bum, pick my nose and carry out any other essential tasks that require “fingering”.
You will all be familiar with the well used phrase that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Last weekend I though I was getting there when I began to see strange phenomena in front of my eyes. But rather than lights in a tunnel they were the early flushes of flu symptoms. I had intended to get back to commenting by the start of this week, but instead ended up sweating myself into the arid deserts of dehydration. I resorted to five bed covers, a hot water bottle, two Celtic T shirts, three strips, home, away and the ’67 hoops, two pairs of socks, all white and the black ones, just so there would be a good practical choice whatever the outcome of my illness, three Celtic scarves, each one of which my wife attempted to choke me with, and my Celtic tammy. To add to my depression, the wife ended up in bed with the same illness. I now know the severe difficulties of trying to make love with sixteen petticoats to rip off first. I can vouch that interest simply wanes relative to one’s progression from layer to layer. Yes, something droops then drops, psychologically speaking, of course. I think the study of ratios between feeling horny actually resulting in copulation in the Victorian era could be an interesting, if not even valuable subject for some post Graduate thesis. It might even take the graduates minds off sex. After my flu experience this week, it would be, for me at any rate, an exhilarating exploration into one of THE great mysteries of the 19th century. Anyhow, back to the matter at hand, the dreaded flu bug has floored me, among other things, for the last few days.
And now to today, when I finally have the energy, enthusiasm, physical posture and digits to reply to emails and make some comments once again. “Hooray”!, I hear some say. “Oh my God”!, I hear most exclaim. I must say that, in spite of feeling “lousy” and nearly depressed, I still managed to have the odd read on various websites. It was so reassuring that a lot of information was still being disseminated and that lively discussion and debate was still ongoing. It was encouraging to see that the internet bampots have lost none of their touch and that Charlie continues to dance uninhibited around the mulberry bush. It was frustrating not being able to respond. I pray the miserable period is over for now and I can get back to adding my nonsense once more to the intelligent offerings of others. Most fortunate of all, I have also been able to listen to the match commentaries on CTV so I have not missed any games. I was even happy to undergo the inevitable pain that would accompany any excessive, given the circumstances, celebrations of the magnificent win against Spartak and our progression to the last sixteen in the C.L. So it has not been all misery, even though last night’s offering at Arbroath sounded abysmal not helped by the commentary disappearing with about seven minutes still to go. I was so relieved to get the final score on CQN.
However, the most pleasing consequence of my recovery, without any shadow of a doubt whatsoever, is being fit enough to say a great big thank you to all of you on this and other sites who enquired about me and hoped I was all right. I guess that is what influenced my choice of heading for this wee article. I do feel part of a family. I know from personal circumstances that when illness debilitates someone, one of the most important aphrodisiacs and recovery aids is the support of family. I have always believed that there is, unquestionably, a Celtic family. I have witnessed it over many years and in so many ways at the club among the management and players but most of all among the fans. It has been expressed in the support given by so many to so many both on and off the field. It is especially noticeable in the charitable aid provided for those less fortunate throughout the whole world. Yes, I have witnessed it over decades and from many quarters but up till now, I had never actually experienced it myself. Today, I have. I have felt the care and anxiety of each of you when you have enquired about me. I have seen your invitations to hear from me gain – even though I will never understand why – and I have read your personal expressions of concern. I am the old banger who is normally content to get by day on day. However, as the years role on, I expect to be more and more in the garage for repairs. Servicing gets less and less effective and many of my replacement parts are well out of production. I am best off these days with some Gaffa tape and a few screws, yet the kindness shown to me here provides all the incentive I need to keep the old engine ticking over. Yes, without doubt, I really do feel proud and privileged to be part of the world-wide “Celtic family”. You, my bampot friends, are an essential part of that “family”. You are “family”.
Hail Hail and a happy Christmas to each and every one of you and yours.