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Birtley Breather

With my wife Karen currently spending time in County Durham caring for her recently widowed dad, I’ll be home alone this week. A time I aim to spend constructively by waxing lyrical, scratching around and nattering over Emu’s fate since Rod Hull’s untimely demise.

My wife’s home town Birtley located just south of the Angel of the North, bisected by Durham Road as it leads south to Chester-Le-Street and (would you believe) Durham.

That being said, when she and I last lived in the area (32 years ago) the iconic angel sculpture was but a sparkle in the eye of it’s designer Anthony Gormley. His contemporary design, an amalgam of Spitfire-like wings and torso of TV presenter Richard Madeley, only at the drawing board stage when I followed Norman Tebbit’s advice of ‘getting on my bike’ to seek employment elsewhere.

Birtley, a bustling citadel where legend has it the Geordie continuity announcer from tabloid TV show Big Brother recently stopped for a coffee. This impromptu comfort break taken on the way to a book signing in Shiny Row to mark ‘The Neet In The Big Brutha Hoose‘ reaching number 38 in the South Lumley Journal’s best sellers list.

Worryingly for Karen, yesterday her dad took a tumble close to the Birtley cenotaph during an angina attack. Thankfully for her pater, though, a passing couple saw the incident and kindly drove him home. The strangers thoughtfully waiting with him until the ambulance attended, or they grew tired of his story about drunkenly losing his shoes in mud …… Whichever came first.


Anyhow, as a consequence of this unexpected incident, on Saturday lunchtime the missus travelled the 90 miles north to her ville natal to care for of her stricken father. It wasn’t the lunch of shredded lamb on pitta bread we’d planned, but hey s**t happens.

With yours truly still being in the relatively early stages of post-cardiac arrest recuperation, lots of people have kindly offered their support during my spouses absence. I don’t know any of these people but it was thoughtful of them nonetheless.

One positive is since last Friday I’m allowed to drive again; or at least will be when my son Jonny returns my car on Tuesday. This four weeks enforced hiatus from sitting behind the wheel the consequence of my heart attack in mid-January.

Hopefully, my twentysomething lad has been utilising the vehicle for the purposes god created (well, General Motors). Not his threatened use of converting the automobile into makeshift kennels to earn a few quid.

That being said, I’m not going to fret about my offspring’s actions during his tenure as driver. After all, Jonny’s a sensible, caring and respectful lad…… I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for the newly fitted car caging, along with the ‘Strachan & Son Pooch Pampering’ signage he’s had emblazoned on my car doors.

Anyhow, from Tuesday I’ll have reached another small step in my recuperation in the shape of once again enjoying the greater independence an automobile brings – Even if the interior is covered in dog hair and smells of pooch pee.

Right, I need to bring this narrative to a close and embark on all the jobs Karen ordinarily undertakes when she’s chez Strachan in situ. Everything that is apart from the daily forty five minute phone call with my mum gabbing about the progress of Glenda Partridge’s foot rot.

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