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April 5th 2017
On Saturday I was at Molineux the first time this season, watching the mighty Wolves take on Cardiff with my cousin Jake. It was great fun to spend time with him - and his wife Amy, and their son Reuben - and all the more so as it was his first visit to the home of football. I also help run a football predictions competition at work, picking the fixtures each week, and although I usually draw them at random I do have a tendency to include any match that I happen to be at. So it was that I contributed the following match report to the 'Super 6' competitors today, and I thought I'd share it with you as well.

Wolves 3-1 Cardiff City
The sun shone brightly in Wolverhampton, as it always does, as Wolves took on Cardiff in a mid-table-if-you're-generous clash of the titans. There was very little focus on the match itself, though, as all the talk in the stands beforehand was of the exciting prospect of a Coventry victory in the Checkatrade Trophy the next day. For those brief moments we could tear ourselves away from such speculation, though, we were treated to four goals as Wolves ran out 3-1 victors, for a fourth win in a row.
Both teams were most threatening from crosses Wolves, in particular, looked dangerous from set pieces and the first three goals all came from close-range headers. The Cardiff one looked suspiciously offside, from my vantage point low behind the goal on the exact opposite side of the pitch. This threat from the wings made it all the more surprising that Wolves focused their approach mainly on aimless long balls forward a perennial tactic, in fairness but I suppose it wouldn't do to win too comfortably at this stage of the season.
Anyway, with less than ten minutes to go the victory was sealed by a lovely goal from 13m January signing Helder Costa, a Portuguese winger who is clearly too good for us and will no doubt be sold into Premier League obscurity before long.

Me, Jake & a random bloke in the background



April 17th 2017
I used to work with someone - a few years younger than me - who thought it was hilarious to ask new people how old they thought I was. When, inevitably, they guessed too high an age, much merriment ensued on his part, while I looked on balefully. I'll be honest, this doesn't actually bother me too much, but generally people are very apologetic and try to cover the over-estimation with references to my beard (usually), wisdom (rarely) or hairline (just my good friend Ben, who kindly added that this was not my fault). Anyways, let the record show that I am merely 31 years old - well, closing in on 31 and a half - whatever you may think, and even if, as was the case with one former colleague, you flatly refuse to believe me.
I bring this up because a friend of mine has recently started writing a not-bucket list: like a bucket list, but with less dying at the end of it. A '40 things to do before 40' list, if you prefer (albeit with only 25 slots filled so far - allowing space for new ideas). I liked this notion a lot, so I thought I'd make my own. All that stuff about my age was to reassure you that I still have time to achieve these things.
I've got a vague feeling that bucket lists aren't supposed to include things that are out of your control - I have watched the Morgan Freeman / Jack Nicholson film The Bucket List, but don't remember the particulars, so I can't be sure about this - but what are you gonna do? It's my list. Here goes.

1. Get married - let's be honest.
2. Watch Wolves at Wembley - because if we're doing this, let's do this.
3. Watch Stenhousemuir F.C. - at last, an achievable one. Stenny are my Dad's team, for convoluted reasons involving a Subbuteo set, and I'd like to see them live someday. Maybe in his retirement - how about it, Dad?
4. Go to a rugby match - I've seen a few different sports, but never rugby (at least, not professional rugby). I'd like to give it a whirl. This one seems really easy.
5. Stroke a pigeon - somewhere around the age of three, this was my dearest ambition. I'll be honest, as the years have passed I've put less and less effort into it, but maybe now's the time.
6. Get a Listener crossword published - I've been a devoted solver of the Listener crossword for a couple of years, and recently (inspired by talking to setters) I've been putting together a crossword for submission. So hopefully I'll be able to tick this one off within the year. If it doesn't get rejected.
7. Achieve an all-correct year of Listener crosswords - I got 48/52 in my first year, and 43/53 in my second year, so I'm getting worse. But I can turn this around. I almost put my goal to win the prize for the most correct in a row ("Solver Silver Salver") but that might be over-ambitious.
8. Reach the Grand Final of the Times Crossword Championship - I would have made it last year, were it not for 'ichneumon'. So I reckon I can do this.
9. Meet a famous actor/actress - I'm sure I would be incredibly uncool in this scenario. But you never know. The dream scenario is that I tell them how much I loved their performance in an excellent but under-rated film; they then realise that I, unlike the masses, am a true film fan and a firm friendship is established. I'm thinking Felicity Jones / Northanger Abbey, but I'll take Jamie Bell / Nicholas Nickleby if I have to.
10. Karaoke - this is a weird one, because the notion of karaoke kinda horrifies me, and I have routinely rejected to opportunity to take part. But a small part of me thinks that it would be fun. So...
11. Visit Northern Ireland - I'm not a huge traveller but I am a bit of a completist, and since I've been to England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland I feel I should complete the set.
12. Pay off my mortgage - I'm sure this isn't how these lists are supposed to work, and I may have outed myself as the most boring man on the internet. But it would be nice to be mortgage-free. According to the terms of my contract this would be in my mid-forties, but with some judicious over-payments I reckon I can do it by 40.
13. Become confident in how to pronounce 'minutiae' - all those vowels, man.
14. Persuade someone to name their child Colin - how I've tried. So far I have failed in every case. Even if you just count the boys, that's at least 14 attempts missed (Asher, Augustus, Boaz, Charlie, Edward, George, Johnny, Josiah, Montgomery, Nathaniel, Reuben, Samuel, Thomas & Zebedee).
15. See Les Misérables on stage - I loved the film, and listened to the soundtrack from it obsessively for months, but I've not had the true West End experience.
16. Buy a ladder - a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a ladder.
17. See the Eagles live - I've seen two Eagles tribute bands, but I'd love to see the real thing. Unfortunately Glenn Frey passed away last year, so it can't be as good as it might have been, but the rest of them are still touring.
18. Compete on Countdown - Simon did it over a decade ago and acquitted himself well, but if I'm honest I'd be terrified of falling apart under the pressure. Still, what's the worst that could happen?
19. Go back to the Edinburgh festival - I had a great time at the festival last summer, but I'd like to go back again and spend more time there, since we only really had one day.
20. Do an improv course - I came close to signing up for one at the beginning of 2016, but it clashed with joining a drama group so I couldn't do both. Hopefully I'll be able to find another opportunity.

Well, I'm halfway through the list and running out of inspiration, so perhaps I'll come back to this another time. Judging by the new things I've done since I turned 30, though - some of which you'll have seen mentioned in my annual round-up on this page - much of the best stuff isn't really planned in advance. So I'm hoping that the next eight-and-a-half-and-a-bit years hold plenty of surprises as well.

what was I listening to?
Acoustic Love - Various Artists
what was I reading?
Murder on the Orient Express - Agatha Christie
what was I watching?
Nerve
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