A morning with Matt, afternoon with Phil and evening with wine. Plus ‘teaching’ on the fly.

4 Apr

It’s been a bit of an up and down week this time around. And we’re the lucky ones – I’m well, well aware of that. We’ve a park across the road from the house and I’ve been able to get out to both do running solo and exercise (football) with Harry. He’s now decided that he’s David Raya whilst I’m anything but Sam Saunders. “Sam Stupid more like, dad”, as another precision free kick is expertly stopped by the young Spanish wannabe or, more usually, sliced dangerously close to those invisible two metre exclusion zones orbiting others who are out and about. We should be preparing for Brentford v Wigan. Instead, we’re reduced to channeling our inner heroes as the floodlights loom over us from  the other side of St. Paul’s Park. Offering up a teasing reminder that football is so close yet so far. The nearest I got to that was doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson on Absolute Radio this week, for the best possible reasons…

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‘Raya’ models his 2021/22 shirt during designated ‘exercise’ time as ‘Stupid’ spoons one wide.

Things could be a lot, lot worse. Reading stories in the press about people trapped in cramped hostel accommodation or even just looking out of the front room window to the tower blocks on the horizon, one can’t even begin to imagine how tough it is out there. Likewise, abroad where conditions everywhere from Italy to India make our situation seem like a stroll in the park. No pun intended.

Instead, my challenge is that of trying to combine being a teacher, good husband, quiz master, motivator (H is taking all of this really hard – especially the not being able to mix with other kids part ) with that of working ten hour days online and trying to maintain some form of normality. Whether that be in terms of routine or cooking. The later something I normally love and now has an added element of ‘challenge’ given the supply situation and no longer being able to “Just nip down to the shops” for those essential items that we’re always short of. Cripes, let’s add menu planning and preparation to the list of first world problems.

Then again, necessity is the mother of invention. The bread machine that has sat on the side for the last few years has suddenly sprung back in to life. Thanks only to an ongoing commitment, and failure, to use the thing so we’ve had a permanent supply of flour and yeast in the house which has gone untouched. All of a sudden it’s worth it’s weight in unintentional gold.  Sadly, those supplies seem very finite with no chance of being replaced although at least we have some form of toast and sandwiches. Of all the luxuries I’d miss it is alcohol, peanut butter and fresh bread which are very much at the top of the list.

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History lessons

But we digress. Food and booze. It’s where my mind is at the moment. I have both at the moment. I have exercise. I have a family around me . Albeit one who are finding this tough. Harry is carrying the monkey he’s had since birth around with him all the time, even to class. We’re really winging it as teachers. Some of which is fun and some of which is hard work. History lessons very much becoming case of fact mixed with fiction. Of being told that my original iPod “looks so old fashioned dad” . Art lessons are loaded on to YouTube by my brother. Inspiration for creative writing coming from author Lisa Thompson every Monday morning at 9.30am on Instagram live. 

People keep banging on about Joe Wicks. It’s good to see him branching out since that stint on TV’s Eastenders but not for me. Or Harry – and he has tried but told me that he got tired after a minute. Hmm. This is the same Harry who complains when the hour in the park is over or who is launching himself into Mrs. Bruzon’s DIY bootcamp sessions in the back yard? But stick Lisa in front of him and he’s engaged. Asking questions online and writing stories all week. You can find her page, here.

So we’re winging it. We’re lucky, all things considered. But this is still nowhere near ‘normal’ life. When home doubles up as both the office and the classroom it’s hard to separate the day as the various aspects of modern life all bleed in to each other. When do work or education end and fun begin? How on earth do you play or socialise when trapped between four walls? Especially trapped with me  – I do feel for Mrs B at times. 

Well, like most of life these days a lot of it is happening online. Zoom and house party video conferencing is very much the way forward. Harry is on with various groups of friends every afternoon – mixed results there. Sometimes you can’t shut them up. At others, it’s like watching a bunch of Star Trek fans trying to make small talk with the opposite sex. Although at least they have the social distancing part bang on. 

For the grown ups, there’s wine (presumably, we’re all drinking more at the moment and it’s not just us?) and chat in the evenings. Something which is nowhere near as cringe as I first thought it would be. Quite the opposite. There’s only so much we can talk about at home given the lack of external stimulus and so still being able to catch up with friends and family is really helping to keep us sane.

This afternoon, Saturday, we’ve got the big Brentford Zoom chat. The GPG have arranged the online session with Phil Giles. We should be playing Wigan. Instead, we at least have the opportunity to quiz our director of football on all things Griffin Park. This, something we’ve always done well and is probably even more crucial now. At least, in keeping fans informed and morale up. All the details on this one are below.

Then there was the letter from Jon Varney, Cliff Crown and the board yesterday. And the posts on Twitter. With the EFL declaring that the season has been suspended indefinitely, it really was informative and open stuff from the club. I’m presuming we’ve all read it but if not, the link is here. Please do take the time out to read it. Great work all round. I’d give anything for life to be back to normal and us all meeting up at Griffin Park once more. Until that can happen, I take huge consolation from what we are doing.

The weekend is here and, on a personal note, it feels like any other morning. At present. An early start with coffee. Sat in front of a keyboard but at least no school or work to prepare for. The radio is on, as ever, and with a bit of focus, it can feel like a ‘regular’ day at this time. Top tunes are playing, I’m sat here in pants/dressing gown combo and there’s the chance to throw some nonsense out on to the internet. It’s just like any other 6am. 

On that subject, I’d love to offer huge thanks to Absolute Radio for allowing yours truly onto Dave Berry’s breakfast show on Tuesday. We said at the top end of the article about it being an up and down week. This bit was very much in the ‘up’ part. Doubling up with Nottingham Forest fan Matt Dyson to try and win five grand. In theory for me but money that would have gone elsewhere. Our quite wonderful NHS who, and I apologise if anybody heard it, I think I may have gone in to one about. In a positive sense. It’s here, otherwise, and is worth it alone for Elton John doing Only Fools and Horses.

What the station does is just magnificent at the best of times, let alone now. Mental health has been a topic high on their agenda over the last year and is something they continue to promote. To remind people that we will get through this and it is ok to be anxious about everything that is unfolding around us. I’m not too proud to admit that radio is really helping to keep me going at present. Even moreso than ever. With DJs all broadcasting from home, the technology to keep the service and quality is quite incredible.

Whomever you listen to, keep it on. Keep that external input into your lives going and don’t underestimate how valuable a service is being provided at present. I do miss working next to people but one ‘positive’ is that at least I can do my job alongside that voice at the other end of the wireless and anybody from The Bluetones to Ash ; The Charlatans to Supergrass. But definitely no Mick Hucknall. Under any circumstances.

And it is another voice at the end of said medium that I need to offer up huge thanks to this Saturday morning. Not Absolute but the BBC and, of course, the quite wonderful Billy Reeves.

Aside from afternoon chat with Phil, the other Zoom activity in our house is an online quiz being hosted this evening. And, as ever, things have been left ‘last minute’. A tweet out to our man asking for a question has been met with not just one brainteaser but an entire section – the mother of all fiendish music rounds. With other Brentford fans also picking in off the back of this with questions, Cinderella will goto the virtual ball. Or, at least, the spangly jacket can come out of the wardrobe later.

But enough  about the chat with Phil.

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BBC Billy doing his thing in happier times

Stay safe everybody. I hope you are all bearing up. DMs are open if anybody wants to chat about anything. Football related or otherwise. Not that I’m really much good at this – I’m just a Brentford fan with limited knowledge about life who uses Twitter far too much –  but, as Bob Hoskins used to say. “It’s good to talk”.

Whatever gets you through this. Now go turn on the radio. Oh, and please send a quiz question via Twitter if you are bored: @NickBruzon.  Hey, I might even host one next week if anybody wants to play?

Just a thought….

Nick Bruzon

5 Responses to “A morning with Matt, afternoon with Phil and evening with wine. Plus ‘teaching’ on the fly.”

  1. t0mbee69 at 10:47 am #

    How about an online event via zoom for all the participants in your fantasy football league to review our respective seasons to date and connect with our head to head opponents.

  2. richard allen at 6:34 am #

    Hi Nick,

    Really loving your updates during this difficult time and particularly appreciating the positivity you’re putting on all things Brentford!!!

    Just one thing that I’ve been a bit uncomfortable with though. In your Last Word article here you make mention of “a park across the road from the house and I’ve been able to get out to both do running solo and exercise (football) with Harry.” and “sliced dangerously close to those invisible two metre exclusion zones orbiting others who are out and about”. While in one of your latest tweets you say: “Great job, Brentford x. That, or we’re just really lazy in TW8. Park across the road is the busiest it’s been all day” (i.e empty) and “Very pleasantly surprised to see people doing the right thing today. Great work”.
    While I appreciate the difficulties of entertaining and exercising a youngster, I’m finding it difficult to reconcile it being OK for you and ‘H’ to go out and play footie on Friday, with you applauding the fact no-one is doing it at the weekend. What if everyone else (as individuals) thought it was OK for them to do it at the weekend?
    For the record, as per current guidance, my thoughts are that no-one should be exercising in an area where they might come into contact with others.

    • nickbruzon at 12:08 pm #

      Many thanks indeed for taking the time to get in touch and also cross refer my Twitter feed to my articles. The fact of the matter is that I am taking my son out for exercise as mandated by the govt advice . Moreso, and doing so at a time when usually there is nobody around.
      I’m also crap at football and so, occasionally, don’t always hit the ball where it is intended. Kids footballs can also fly quite a distance. That doesn’t mean I’m going up to other people to retrieve it. Quite frankly, seeing the TV shots of Richmond, Primrose Hill etc it makes me really uncomfortable seeing people abuse the right to exercise. I empathise with you for feeling the same but would also ask that you please do check facts.

      • Richard Allen at 6:35 pm #

        Nick,
        I really don’t want to get into an argument about this, as I genuinely do appreciate the time and effort you put into your postings/columns. Which are regularly excellent.
        However (and you knew there would be one!!!) I can’t really leave your comment about “checking facts” without a reply.
        I would ask how much “fact checking” you, I or most others for that matter have done, with all those ‘other (bad) people’ who flout the rules? Perhaps they have, like you, got ‘genuine’ reasons behind their actions…..Maybe, maybe not….
        Surely you can see that while in one breath saying it was OK for you to go and play on the park, and in another applauding everyone else for NOT doing the same, might come across as a bit hypocritical?
        Anyway, no more from me after this. I’ll leave the Last Word to you if required.
        Look forward to reading more of your postings and to happier times at GP or LR!!!

  3. nickbruzon at 8:34 pm #

    Richard – if you have an issue with me then why not contact direct? As noted in the same article you are criticising me for “DMs are open if anybody wants to chat about anything. “.
    The same article that also showed our photo of us being near nobody but a dog walker.

    The simple fact of the matter is that people are allowed out for exercise – this is what I’ve been doing with my family.

    People are not allowed out to meet socially or catch a tan – something which we’ve seen loads of on TV. I’ve done nothing but denounce this all the way through my Twitter feed and articles if you would continue our cross checking of my social media and posts.

    Frankly, I was amazed but proud of how the people in our park yesterday were using it just for sporadic exercise rather than those other scenes we’ve been ,quite rightly, getting so upset about.

    I’ve got to say I’m really disappointed that you (incorrectly) call me out in public but then come back for round 2. At the same time, this is an emotive time for everybody so perhaps just leave it here as you say

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