The Duke - January 13, 2016

Director Quentin Tarantino
Director Quentin Tarantino
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I have a conundrum for you. When is it all right to stop wishing people a happy new year?

I mean, we are about half way through January, the days are supposedly getting a minute or two lighter, the vast majority of Christmas decorations have come down and most of the frozen turkey curry has reluctantly been eaten to take the pressure of the month’s grocery bills.

I only ask because normally the novelty of wishing all and sundry a “happy new year” – along with the sneaking suspicion that for most people it will be much the same as the previous one – has usually worn off before the last of Jools Holland’s pre-recorded New Year’s party guests has been put through their paces.

Obviously, things have changed over the years.

I can still remember when, as we hatefully call it, “back in the day” it took months to get round to wishing everyone had a good “new” year. Before every household had their own telephone (yes, kids, that’s before mobiles, iPhones and all the rest of modern “essentials”) we’d have to make a mental list of who we’d wished what to.

When landlines ruled the roost, the last minutes of New Year’s Eve and the first few of New Year’s Day became a mad scramble of telephoning the nearest and dearest before they won the brownie points and got to you first.

Mobiles made things easier, then texts meant you didn’t have to actually have to talk at all and now, of course, Facebook et al means you can get the whole good wishes thing over in one fell swoop – even to people you don’t know or even like all that much.

As for first footing across the threshold with lumps of coal and bits of wood or a tot of whisky, let’s just hope that our chums north of the border are keeping up that tradition because no-one down our street would dream of opening their front door to strangers at the midnight hour – even on December 31.

Anyway, this year I decided to go back to basics. I switched off my mobile and unplugged my laptop so I apologise now to anyone who feels I may have snubbed them by not sending slurry voiced good wishes at the appropriate time, and hereby belatedly hope that everyone has a great year (what’s left of it) – but I doubt the 12 months to come will be made any better or worse by any message from me.

I have, however, wished as many people as possible all the best in the old-fashioned way – face to face. I’ve probably wished the same people all the best several times.

Especially checkout operators in Booths.

I clearly worried my next door neighbours with last weekend’s overdue cheery greetings for 2016.

Adam seemed to think I was being sarcastic about their New Year’s Eve party (no, honestly, I’ve always liked the Hughes Corporation’s 1974 disco classic Rock The Boat – even at a volume which had my brother searching our house at 3am for a hidden stereo system). And his wife Jo seemed quite frightened when I bellowed my greetings as she headed out in the dark for a Chinese takeaway.

So what brought on my retro moments?

It was seeing four of the six people gathered round our dinner table fiddling around on their mobile devices instead of concentrating on conversation, and getting their food from the plates to their mouths without dropping it.

Well, if film maker Quentin Tarantino can successfully ban electronic equipment from his movie sets, I reckoned I could try it over dinner – and hopefully beyond.

For Tarantino, the gadget ban meant better communication, increased productivity and another box office hit.

For me? Everyone ate up twice as quickly and left the table sooner – with sulky faces.

A win or two is just the ticket

Having been a loyal Blackpool Football Club supporter for some 25 years – and a season ticket holder for many of them – I’ve got a problem looming.

If your favourite pub lets you down with a bad pint, or your restaurant of choice serves up a duff meal, you give them another chance. If they persist in letting you down, you move on to somewhere else.

So should it be the same with a football club?

Try as they might, at the moment the future doesn’t look bright for the men in Tangerine. Even the scoreboard has all but given up the ghost.

Most weeks – because the PA system isn’t state of the art either - I’ve no idea what our squad is. And as for the attendance stats... if any other business factored in who wasn’t there along with who was, they’d be in real trouble.

The Manager (mine, not the club’s) says she will cherry pick home matches next season if we (sorry, they) go down, the Only One says “not a penny more” (which is ironic because I’ve always paid for his tickets).

And that leaves me. Come on you Pool. Help me out.