The Lion

It was the headline in The New York Times that finally brought the situation home to me. ‘UK Terror Attack.’ A phrase I’d heard plenty of times before. The London bombings of 7/7. Manchester. The nail-bomb in the bar of the Admiral Duncan in Soho. This one is different. This one strikes closer to home.

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Lunch During Lockdown (or yes, godsdammit, it’s soup again)

A level of routine is, as any fule kno, essential to getting through the long haul at home without going completely cuckoo-lala crazy. As a gentleman of a furloughed persuasion, I am led in that routine by TLC, who works from home and therefore finds her days filled with meaning and purpose (and endless Teams sessions and slow-loading document uploads and all the other pitfalls and nightmares surrounding the transition to domiciled employment).

Therefore, no lollygagging in bed. As TLC showers, I am making tea. As she breakfasts, I shower. A brace of coffees as she hits the network. Then I leave her to it, and start considering the next big event of the day—lunch.

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The September Read-easy!

Who doesn’t like a good book? Well, if you don’t, you’re in the wrong place this month!

Rob and Clive share the works of literary merit that have tickled their fancy recently, in a podcast that’s sure to appeal to those of you that enjoy slightly drunken rambling from two opinionated old geezers.

Pop your slippers on, pour yourself a sherry and join us as we crack open a volume or two…

(Clive mentioned The Doctor Who Book Club podcast: you can check that out here.)

Stacked: X&HT Visited The Astley Book Farm

Sometimes, you just have to make the most of a collapsed plan. We were all set to visit the Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire this weekend, until the weather did a dirty on us, and flooded the site the evening before it was due to open.

We found a silver lining to that rain-sodden cloud, tucked away in the lanes of rural Warwickshire. A bookshop that swallowed us whole and ejected us hours later, giddy and shine-eyed. 

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You won’t often get a football post out of me. I can think of only a couple in my entire blogging career, both of which were snarks at the so-called beautiful game.

Why, then, am I so saddened to hear that Reading had lost to Swansea in the playoffs for a place in next year’s Premiership? Considering the fact that I’ve never been to a match, even though the bus to the Madjeski Stadium runs from the bottom of our road. Even though I’d struggle to name more than a couple of our first team players.

I think it’s got a lot to do with the events of the past few years. Under the visionary Steve Coppell, Reading made their way into the Premiership in 2007 for the first time in their history. After a giddy couple of seasons in the top flight, they crashed out unceremoniously and faced tough times. Coppell left, to be replaced briefly by Swansea manager Brendon Rodgers, under whom the Royals couldn’t couldn’t seem to win a game. The first team was strip-mined of talent by Premiership clubs, and left in the hands of caretaker manager Brian McDermott. Saddled with a first team of untried youngsters, and a season that started with the team hovering a point or so off the bottom of the Championship, the glory days seemed like a very distant memory.

But this year, Reading seem to have hit their stride. Unbeaten in eleven games, striker Shane Long up for player of the year. McDermott’s quietly inspiring managership and a playing style that could best be described as “no surrender” (several games this season have been won in extra time), meant that the Royals suddenly looked like they had a good chance of getting back in the major leagues.

Yesterday’s 4-2 result was especially heartbreaking, then. Reading were 3-0 down at half-time, thanks to a penalty and a lucky deflection that seemed to knock all the fight out of the boys. It’s absolutely typical of them that they came out in the second half and fought back hard. It looked as if they could pull off a miracle, but luck and the run of the ball were simply against them. Jem Karacan’s strike smacked off the post, and a late penalty rang the final bell on Reading’s chances. It seems ironic that Rodger’s Swansea is the team to go up. Like Reading, they were suffering only a couple of seasons ago. The Royals’ loss would seem to be the Swan’s gain.

I don’t think any Reading fan can be anything but proud of their team today, though. They showed the spirit and determination that have turned them into a deeply respected team in the Championship, and the team to watch next season. The town and it’s community are behind them, and they are a true unifying force in Reading. It’s been a rollercoaster year for the Royals. Who knows what could happen in 2012?