Howling Jake’s Caught The Bug (No, Not That One)

So this is my second blog in a matter of just days. I assume it is the novelty that will in time wear off. And thinking about it, really a blog is nothing more than just today’s fancy dan term for collecting and documenting your thoughts and opinions, not unlike writing a diary of yesteryear.

So yesterday I turned 60 years old. A bit of a milestone which puts me in reflective mood. An odd time really because you never actually think of yourself turning, in my case, 60. Forty years ago – where has the time gone – I was a young gun in my twenties doing what 20 year-olds do. Dispatch riding in London, attending music concerts (think the Stray Cats for which I dyed my hair blonde), carefree, few real responsibilities. That’s right, kids, us old guys were young guys once. Back then, I could not imagine myself at 60 just as today, should I get there, I can’t actually think of myself at 70 or 80 years-old for that matter. Try it yourself. Try to imagine an older you – I’ll bet that you can’t.

I think back on the stand out or flash back episodes in my life – seeing the actual Faberge eggs in the Kremlin museum; getting ruined on tequila in a Paris Novotel with work colleagues; getting ruined on grappa in Ravenna with those same work colleagues; an amazing all you can eat steakhouse buffet in Sao Paolo (given back in the day I could eat for England, they didn’t make any profit that night); eating just the biggest burger ever in a greasy spoon café, the Flying Pig, with my work wife Caroline Burden (I took her to all the best places); driving way too fast over the speed bumps into the head office car park of B&Q with good friend Richard Towers; catching the Ferry, sharing a cabin and driving across Holland and into Germany and then back again to Hellaby for a trade show in Frankfurt with kindred spirit Phil Glenister; accompanying Emma Ryde in a mobile product display to customers’ premises; attending Soulla’s wedding to Jim in London on route to America; busting a gut to return from a business trip in America to attend a supplier’s Christmas party because Roy Wood’s Wizzard were booked to play; attending my own wedding to Sandra with best man John Osman; attending Hans Juergen’s 60th birthday party in Germany; pre- and post match beers with Mick Malloy, beardy Phil and Festa  in an Estonian working men’s club near Valley Parade; meeting and marrying soul-mate and wife of 35 years Sandra, having son Howling bambino Samuel and welcoming his girlfriend Howling Ashlee. And the list goes on with so many more memories – 60 years’ worth – that each of us will have.

Am I proud of some of my achievements? Of course. Like getting my MBA to finally prove more to my father – long since passed away by then – than myself that I wasn’t an intellectual failure. Am I ashamed and do I regret some episodes in my life and some of  my behaviour? Hell, yes. Sadly, not all in the past. Still extremely short of patience and language that would surely make a miner blush.

But overall, not unlike the headmaster’s comments on too many of my school reports, “lacks concentration, inclined to be the class clown but on balance not bad maybe but could do better next term”. I am hoping that I have indeed a few more years left in the tank to “do better”. 

And on that pensive note, I will end today’s sermon. If you get chance and have the appetite, why not tune in to my radio show – the First Resort – most Tuesdays from 7-9pm. I am the Most Reverend Howling Jake Ryan. Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened. And until we meet again, peace be the journey.

Guest blog from Howling Jake Ryan

Don’t worry, we’ll get him the relevant pills when matron comes back. Here’s a guest blog from Howling Jake.

“So, where’s the blog that you promised us on a regular basis?” I asked station manager Roy.

“Point taken,” he replied. “But there is always room for a guest blog, if you feel so inclined,” he politely invited. Walked into that, didn’t I? Tucked up like a kipper, good and proper, as the saying goes. But not one to shirk a challenge, here goes with my first blog for OTB radio – or anywhere for that matter.

No introduction needed? Probably, actually yes as most won’t know me from Adam. But if I say, I am the most Reverend Howling Jake Ryan from the pulpit of love with my mixed and varied bag of musical treats, and on air most Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm that may clarify things – a bit.

So as I approach my 60th birthday – albeit during Lockdown 2 when I had instead planned to celebrate this milestone in Graceland, the home of the King in Memphis – I am in reflective and somewhat irked mood. 

Question. Is it an age thing or a gender thing that makes me go from 0 to “boiling lava” incensed in .4 of a second? I appreciate, of course, that there are far loftier topics to be concerned with (Covid/Brexit/climate change/world peace) and also that we may be getting into “Grumpy Old Man” territory and again that this may also be a bit contentious and inflammatory – but am I being overly judgemental? Is it just me? …

Adult men (mostly) (overweight – often) and (some) women – who frankly should know better – wearing replica football shirts when they are neither playing football nor at a football match. What’s that all about? You go abroad and it’s like spot the Brit. Not hard as he is wearing a Newcastle/Liverpool/Chelsea/Leeds/Celtic/Man U shirt. You stay in the UK, maybe go to a shopping centre, possibly White Rose or further afield for this “shandy-pants southerner and adopted son of Bradford” (I married a West Yorkshire lass) to Meadow Hell in Sheffield (rarely by the way) and guess what, there he is again in his club colours. What is the matter with you, man? Put on a proper shirt. PS – got to love the irony of tubby lads in sporting attire.

And whilst I’m on a roll and pet peeves: Not knowing what you want to order at KFC/Burger King/McDonalds when it’s your turn.  I mean, you’re stood waiting in the line for an age so plenty of time to study the menu – which incidentally hasn’t radically changed since you were 12 (I mean it’s still basically a burger, chips (correction fries) and a coke) – but no, the fellow in front of you only starts to look at the pictures above the server’s head when he’s asked “what can I get you?” And why, when Mr. Uncertain turns round, smiles and apologises for his indecision, do I just politely say: “Don’t worry, take your time, it’s not easy there’s a lot to choose from.”  When really I want to pull his head off and drop kick it over the goal posts and shout “Get out of the queue.” – or again is that just me and maybe a bit extreme. Oh! and then we get into the whole “do you want that super-sized” debate which is when I lose the will to live, rush out of the store, shouting “Kill me now!”

And genuinely, and I really am not a man prone to bursts of extreme violence, but when the “Team Member” (what’s that all about? Corporate speak gone mad) behind the counter at McDonalds corrects you when you order a burger.

Me – nice and polite: I’ll have a burger, regular fries and a regular diet coke to take out, please.

Team Member – with a slightly officious tone but compensated for with a smile like we’re having a joke and both in the know: It’s a Macburger and fries.

Me – count to 10. Eye starting to twitch. Slight hint of menace: I’m sorry. 

Tem Member – slightly less confident now: It’s a Macburger.

Me – with other customers shuffling away from the unbalanced guy in the proper not Bradford City shirt and yet somehow at the same time transfixed, and glued to the episode unfolding in front of them: Oh! Really. It’s a (pause) Macburger and fries. My mistake. And how would you like a Mac finger in the Mac eye?

In truth, as you can probably guess, a.) I’ve watched too many Dirty Harry movies and b.) I have to come clean that I haven’t actually been in a fast food joint in getting on for 10 years but it still stands as a “light the blue touch paper” moment.

And on that angry note, I will end today’s sermon. I am the Most Reverend Howling Jake Ryan. Don’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened. And until we meet again, peace be the journey.

Catch up with previous First Resorts on Mixcloud.