Monday Musings. 8/2/16

Some men came and delivered our new sofa last week, making for arguably the worst possible use of annual leave. One of the men was balding with a tattooed neck. Over the last few months, I have come across a disproportionate amount of men who have neck tattoos. I’m not one to judge but what happens in your life to decide; “I know what I’ll do today — I’ll get a neck tattoo. That’s a good idea.”
 The men seemed annoyed with me that the sofa didn’t fit through the front door, which I suppose was a reasonable thing to be annoyed about. It must happen a lot in their line of work. I did at least have a contingency plan, informing the men that the back door is bigger and it should be fine. They were dismissive.
 “Have you measured it?”
 I hadn’t but it is quite obviously a much bigger door so an argument seemed futile. Eventually they begrudgingly believed me and heaved the sofa around the back where we had our second disagreement over an intrusive cat flap that I didn’t know how to remove. While I stood around feeling unwanted in my own home the two men eventually got the sofa in and dumped it, vertically, in the kitchen.
 “Right, there you are mate.”
 I wasn’t planning on keeping it in the kitchen.
 “Don’t want to be awkward but is there any chance you could move it through to the living room?”
 “We’ve gotta rush off.” Neck tattoo said unapologetically. “All you have to do is unscrew the legs and you’ll be able to take it through. No problem at all.”
 “Okay, thanks.”
 The other man then asked if he could use my toilet and walked upstairs with muddy boots on. At least seven minutes later, neck tattoo and I were still stood around in silence waiting for him.
 What rush?
 It turned out that the legs didn’t need to be taken off and I managed to wrestle it through the door and into its spot without flattening myself. This just about completes the essentials needed for our house although judging from the amount of time Louise spends excitedly trawling through the Homebase website, she disagrees.
 With the house nearly sorted and me now being legally allowed to drive, things are calming down and I’m hoping to settle into a bit of a routine. Over what has been a fairly hectic few weeks, the only constant seems to have been losing money on football accumulators. It may sound boring but I enjoy having a weekly routine of sorts; I reckon if you play a sport / go for a run twice a week and spending at least one day of the weekend not being hungover then you have a decent balance. And of course reading Monday Musings — an essential part of anyone’s week.
 My friends and I played basketball on Wednesday which I enjoyed and am hoping will become a regular fixture. It’s something a bit different and you are statistically much less likely to get deliberately kicked by a man from Beeston than you are when you play five-aside football. I do have a bad habit of doing things, enjoying them, saying I will do them again and then not doing them again though.
 In my early teenage years and in the wake of a lightening growth spurt, I used to play basketball a lot. One of my regular balling partners was a short, chubby guy who lived in a rough part of Leeds. On one occasion, a bunch of older kids had chased after three of us, presumably wanting to mug us or beat us up. Neither great options. 
 We managed to sprint to the relative safety of a corner shop but they just stood outside waiting. For ages. I made an arrangement with the shopkeeper that if I bought a 50p mix, we could stay in the shop to eat it but still the tough kids waited. They were annoyingly patient for hoodlums.
 Eventually we ran out, going for the reckless option of splitting up and going our separate ways; every man for himself. With energy levels boosted from fizzing lances and those weird 1p sherbet straw things, one friend and I managed to get away and back to the house. Our third pal was not so lucky though and got caught by one of the gang and punched a few times. Gladly, he wasn’t seriously hurt and in years to come, he went on to become friends with his assailant so I suppose that’s a happy ending of sorts? Kind of. Still, I’m really glad that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.
 The fear factor of the area was worth it though as my friend had skilfully constructed his own basketball hoop using some plywood and a car tyre. With the chunky rim, it was easy to get it in so we both wound up thinking we were much better than we actually were. My friend was adamant that he was going to move to the States and become professional and I’d decided I was good enough to warrant spending forty quid (four paper rounds) on a purple Toronto Raptors vest. In fairness, there was added incentive to buy it as Vince Carter was then the star player and we, of course, share a surname. Genius.
 My basketball career ended in a damp squib in the end. On account of being unusually tall rather than any good, I got asked to trials to play for Leeds. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the team and gave up. (This is one of those stories that I bring up after four pints and have bored most of my friends with numerous times — similar to a guy saying “I could have been a professional footballer but…”)
 I digressed a bit there. Didn’t realize I had so much to say about basketball.
 In another return to my roots, Louise, my dad and I worked on the bar at a beer festival that my brother helped to organize on Friday. Well ‘return to roots’ may be overplaying it a bit — I used to work at Headingley Stadium where the only drink we served was pints of Carlsberg or Tetley’s from a six-pint dispenser. All you had to do was press a green button so I can’t really claim to be a skilled barman. The only tricky part of the job was having to deal with complaining, beer-soaked customers after their flimsy cardboard beer-holders had broken.
 This happened a lot.
 I enjoyed being behind a bar again. After a shaky and emasculating opening ten minutes where I struggled to pour a decent pint and had to be individually tutored by a man called Jonathon from Theakston brewery, it was good fun. I befriended a guy working our bar who ran a car dealership — a fellow petrol head. I neglected to tell him that I had been on the road for nine days. Unimportant. We were actively encouraged to drink on the job which always helps a shift doesn’t it?
 A pet hate of mine is when you go to a bar and the bar staff are more interested in flirting with one another than serving you a drink. I am, alas, a terrible hypocrite and begun playing a game with Louise to see who could serve the most beers. Louise predictably proved more popular with punters. When I asked what beer he would like, one man replied: “I don’t care, as long as she serves me it.”
 With this blatant favouritism going on, I resorted to challenging customers to downing contests in order to get some attention; another example of me rolling back the years, this time to the maturity levels of a seventeen-year-old in Magaluf. The plan went well initially and I saw a steady increase in the amount of beer I served. This was until a muscular man tricked me and pretended that he was going to participate then didn’t down his beer, leaving me red faced and with Old Peculiar ale on my chin. Just to rub it in, he took a small, satisfied sip of his ale and made a quip to his mate about pacing yourself, citing the tortoise and the hare. With the Aesop’s fable reference prompting doubt, I stopped the downing contest tactic after this and reluctantly admitted that Louise is a better bar person than me.
 On the back of such a fun night, I’ve decided that I would like a part time bar job, possibly one or two nights a week? However, realistically this will be another case where I do something, enjoy it, say I will do it again and then don’t do it again.

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