Saturday, 4 January 2020

The Saturday List #246 - Ten ways you realise you are really alive

We all muddle through life and sometimes, we daydream and wonder if we are really alive at all? We wonder if the world is simply a practical joke, in which we are the butt, or whether we are just an AI program, running Matrix style in a massive supercomputer in the sky, where we are simply a stream of binary consciousness in a warm, protected world behind a celestial firewall. And then something happens and you realise, no I am very much alive and very much a passenger on Planet Earth.

I thought, for my first list of 2020, as we all recover from our hangovers, I'd list ten moments that made me appreciate I was alive and a passenger on Planet Earth.

1. The Shower sketch.
I'm sure we've all done it. We awake in a daze in a hotel room. We run the shower until the temperature is just right and in we step. After a few minutes, we decide to adjust something. You reach for the control and shazam! You've switched on the hand shower, which drenches you in freezing cold water. Then you know you are alive.

2. The Wall.
Those of us who have played centre back in a Sunday League team will know this. A free kick is conceded at the edge of the box and you are the centre piece of the defensive wall. It is January, it is drizzling and it is about 1 degree over freezing. Up steps their star midfielder, who you all know can give a ball some welly, bend it like Beckham etc. Up he steps, wallop! But it's not a goal, it isn't craftily curved around the wall. He's wellied it straight into your nuts. You roll over in agony as team mate and foe alike snigger. There is no sympathy on a football field. You know you are alive.

3. The Zipper.
When you get to a certain age, two effects of Alcohol are more marked. You find you lose your spatial awareness more quickly and you need to visit the gents more regularly. This massively increases the risk of the most painful experience known to mankind, getting caught in a zipper. There is really nothing that compares. The worst bit is having to undo it, often with an audience. You will notice a certain silence. You will know you are alive.

4. The pie at football.
Those of us who love football, generally love a pie at half time. Football clubs are run by sadists who know that we are usually cold and hungry at half time. We come out for our pie and a pint and we are like lambs to the slaughter. You sit there balancing your pint and take a big mouthful of tasty pie, forgetting the golden rule. You see football clubs have secret thermo nuclear generators that heat pies to the temperature of the surface of the sun. No matter how long you wait or what you do, you will receive a third degree burn on your lip, tongue or both. You will be surrounded by poor fools who have done the same. The B******ds with hot dogs smugly smile. You know you are alive.

5. The Shower Sketch part II.
This one seems to be particularly prevalent in French hotels. It has never happened to me in the USA. You get up, slightly worse for wear due to the amazing wines, great food and ambience. You know that a nice shower is just what the doctor ordered, but you forget you are in France. You set the temperature and step in. It feels amazing, then you hear a loo flush in the next room. Having not been to France for a while, you pay no heed. Then it happens. Next door steps into their shower and bang, your one goes from toasty nice to absolutely freezing in a millisecond. If you are new to the game, you whack up the heat. Back to toasty roasty. Then next door steps out, in a millisecond, the temperature soars above boiling. You know you are alive.

6. The nice country walk.
We've all done this, usually for me in Cornwall. You are down for the weekend and there is a pub down the road. The sun is shining and you fancy a beer. It is warm and so you think "lets take a stroll". It is idyllic. The walk passes in no time. You have a pint and a pasty and you are feeling just fine. All too quickly, it is time to go back to your hotel. As you step out, you notice the weather has changed. But you only have a thin t-shirt on. A black cloud is bearing down on you. Can you make it back in time. It was only ten minutes walk down the hill. But now, going up the hill is like Mount Everest. Just as the hotel looms into sight, the heavens open. You get drenched and frozen, but at least you know you are alive.

7. The toe job.
When God made us, I've always wondered why He (she??) distributed our pain receptors in the manner they are arranged. An errant spike on a  tube train once gashed my head as I boarded. I didn't realise until everyone started screaming and handing me tissues. I needed nine stitches at The Middlesex Hospital A&E (back when it had one). I felt nothing. You'd think the head, which contains the brain would be the most sensitive spot on the body for pain? But no. On the other hand, the part of you that is most likely to come into contact with painful objects, the toe, has more pain receptors than anywhere else. How many times have you got up in the night in unfamiliar surroundings and stubbed your toe? And you get no sympathy, as it's just your toe. Take solace in the fact that you know you are alive.

8. The Jack Russell.
I'm a big fan of our four legged friends. We have two. But of all dogs, I think the one breed that you really don't want to cross is the humble Jack Russell. A friend of mine had one, a nice little chap called Duke. One day we were having a beer and Duke took a liking to my trouser leg. I tried to shoo him away, so he sunk his teeth into my finger. He didn't let go. It was probably only for a few seconds but it seemed like hours. I'm not a dog beater and he was tiny, so I felt I had top suffer it. I still have the scar, but at least I knew I was alive.

9. Chilli Fingers.
If like me you are a keen cook, you will know this one. I love spicy food and I love hot chillies. Sadly, I still forget that when you chop up hot chillies, your fingers become implements of death. Rub your eyes, scratch your nose or go to the loo without washing with carbolic soap and I assure you that you will know you are alive.

10. Agueroooooooooooooo!!!!!!!
I've saved best till last. The rest of this list cannot exactly be described as pleasant, but there are gorgeous, life affirming moments, fleeting, gone before you blink, where you celebrate the fact you are alive. These could be kissing your true love for the very first time and realising what life really means, seeing The Ramones at the Roundhouse in 1977 and finding what you've been looking for in life, but I've chosen the moment that Sergio Aguero scored the winner against QPR to deliver the Premiership to Manchester City. City had been 2-1 down at 90 mins with the title heading to United. Then Edin Dzeko nodded in what seemed like a consolation header. It seemed too little too late. City got the ball, piled forward, Balotelli toe poked it to Aguero who smashed it in.  Luckily it was pre VAR, no interminable reviews, no two minutes wait, a moment of true joy, a moment when every City fan knew they were alive.

Have a great weekend. I'm off to Manchester for the latest installment in the saga that is Manchester City FC

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