Sunday, 19 June 2011

(HOLLYWOOD STYLE DRAMA EDITION!) Day 535: Finding The Cure For 'Darts Back', The Evolution Of The Earlsdon Cottage Desperadoes, Humiliation And Heroism, Smashing The 70 Barrier, Strengthening The Mind At £20 A Time,The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Darter, and A Shameless Literary Plug

Hours Of Practice: 583
Miles Walked On The Oche: 466.4

Welcome back Darts Fans, and people who couldn't give a shit about darts but read this nonsense for some reason; thanks for coming. For those of you have been asking me where the next blog update was (there are actually people that do that) it's time to rejoice as this installment is a REALLY long one. So get comfortable. Make a cup of tea first. I'll wait.

This latest edition of Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune comes to you
via an all-new approach, specially formulated to give it that extra touch of spice! The Luke Smitherd Excitement Filter (tm) is being applied to this blog from here on in, to turn it from an
engrossing and highly arousing read to an explosive sex-fest of action, raunch, and hilarious things involving mainly darts. And TERRORISTS.

So what's been happening recently on the Tungsten Trail To Titanic Triumph? I'll tell you what; back pain, Darts Fans. Back pain. It's been a while, but the double header of an old gym-obsessive-
days training injury coming back to haunt me (right shoulder blade) as I took my guitar off at the end of a gig to feel it 'pop' and not really settle back in as usual, combined with a new, more
worrying addition of lower back pain on the right hand side (the exact point at which my body hinges as I lean forward on the oche) and getting sick of recent, constant neck stiffness, I made a
tough decision. Some money will have to be spent. Once I'd managed, after this realisation, to unclench my buttocks with the aid of a paramedic-standard set of 'Jaws Of Life', I went through Google and found someone professional, knowledgable, insightful, and cheap. My sports massage/physio appointment with Tanya was booked.

After a thorough session of prodding, probing, stretching, ande hardly any screaming like a girl, Tanya left the room after announcing she 'just wanted to check something to be sure.' When she came
back ten minutes later, to my great concern, her face was ashen, and her eyes were slightly watery. More worrying was the fact that this had nothing to do with the £10 note I'd confusedly tucked
into the waistband of my towel. Someone told me that's how physios prefer to be paid.
'You might need to sit down,' she said. I thought this unusual, as I was already lying on my stomach on the table, but I sat in the opposite chair anyway, pulling my towel tight and suddenly
feeling very aware of how cold it was in there.
'Luke', she said, looking at the floor. 'When I finished the assessment...I wanted to be certain before I said anything. So I put the results through the computer to be sure, and it's confirmed
everything. I've run the tests 3 times over, and the results are always the same.'
I sat there and said nothing. With a deep sigh, she continued.
'Every darts player runs the risk of Dartenisation-'
'Wait, what?'
'In layman's terms, Dartenisation occurs when a darts player combines a large amount of practice with an incredible amount of being sexy. It's very rare, but it happens. But yours is a case so
advanced that no-one has ever seen anything like it.'
' what are you saying?'
'I'm saying,' she said, her eyes welling up, 'That if you play as much as ONE MORE game of could die.'
Though the news hit me like a sledgehammer, it only strengthened my resolve, as I stood without a word.
'Thanks for the assessment Tanya, but if you'll excuse me, I have PRACTICE to do.'
'Weren't you listening?!' she cried, aghast, 'One more game and you could DIE!!'
'THEN I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL!!!' I screamed, producing a dart from somewhere inside my towel with a flourish and throwing it at the plate glass window, shattering it. Screaming heroically, I jumped
out of the third floor window frame, removing my towel and tying it around my neck like a cape in one swift movement, revealing my throbbing and

Sorry about that, the Luke Smitherd Excitement Filter (tm) seems to have a bit of a sensitive trigger today; I just nudged it and it flicked to maximum on the anecdote. Here's what actually

After the run through, I was getting dressed whilst Tanya was outside looking at her notes. When she came back in, she was carrying what looked like some kind of diagram.
'I want you to take a look at this,' she said, handing me what appeared to be an outline drawing of the human body, covered in small dots.
'What are these?' I asked, pointing at one.
'Representations.' she replied. 'This isn't your diagram, this is an example. But the dots represent where I've identified certain...findings in your musculoskeletal genetic make-up.'
'Woah, slow down there Einstein!'
'Ok. Luke, every human being has in their blood stream tiny particles called Tungstichlorians. Whether they play the game or not, these determine how much potential they have to be able to play
incredible Darts. Your count is 127.'
' that a lot?' I asked. She stared at me for a long moment, almost in disbelief. Finally, she spoke.
'Luke...the person whose diagram this is...their Tunstichlorian count is only 76.' She pointed to the name at the top of the sheet. I peered at it.
It read, 'P. Taylor.'
'Luke,' she said, wide eyed, 'You are going to be the greatest Darts player...of all time.'
'THEN I'LL SEE YOU IN HELL!!!' I screamed, producing a dart frommmmmmmmmmmmmm-

Fucking thing. I'll switch it off.

Basically, over three sessions, my lower back-which was 'rock hard with tension' has eased off nicely, my neck has been improved, and my shoulder blade is not a darting issue. She said, based on
the fact that I spent many hours a week leaning at the same point, it was unsurprising my lower back was so stiff. It made me wonder how many darts players who suffer from back issues-a very common
factor in the game-even consider getting a sports massage, perhaps embarrassed needing physio for a sport that is unathletic in the least. It's an endurance test at the highest level-absolutely no
doubt, both mentally and physically-but it is of course not a sport for 'athletes'. She recommended a few post-practice stretches to remove any tension that may develop, and I'll list these at the
end for anyone that's interested (including those kindly suggested by Shane Amadan via twitter; thankyou Shane. HE'S following on twitter folks...and you can TOO! Click the button above! YEAH!)

This talk of stretching may bring to mind the fairly recent ad in which a woman on a blind date with a 'comedy' darts enthusiast says 'Stretching? Really'? when she sees him 'hilariously' stretching before he shows off at darts. This is also the same ad when this woman, on a date with someone, whilst he's obviously a ringpiece, says 'Is darts even a sport?' A more true-to-life response from him would be 'Yes, stretching, because the human body isn't designed to stand rigidly at an angle for hours on end. And yes, as it's recognised as a sport by all the sporting bodies of the United Kingdom, then it officially is, as well as the fact that Darts requires muscle memory, throwing, walking, accuracy, and extreme hand-to-eye co-ordination, to answer both of your staggeringly rude fucking questions about something I'm clearly passionate and enthusiastic about, you fucking twat. Plus, you're not even really fit enough for me to consider brushing your ignorance off in the hope of a fuck, as frankly, you're not worth the effort,' before headbutting her and pissing on her unconscious face. That's what I'D have done, anyway.

So I'm now going to go back to Tanya once every 6 weeks for a back M.O.T., as the difference it's made to practice comfort has been pretty immense. Take my advice, darts players; google 'Sports Massage' for your local area and get yourself booked in. If you're in the West Midlands, visit They're great.

In the meantime...I've finally cracked the 70+ average barrier, in that I'm maintaining an average of 70 or over throughout a day's practice. Or rather...I was. Let me explain.
Whenever I sit down to write this blog, darts fans, I write a little list of subjects that I'm going to cover. This is because I know I'll take weeks, coming back and doing a little bit here and
there, and don't want to forget what I was going to cover. Any changes that occur in the meantime, or any relevant news, get added in later. And on the list for THIS blog was '70+ average,' and
this was a very big deal; actually hitting and going beyong the target I set in my '500 hours milestone' blog. But somewhere between starting this blog and now, something happened. And I blame the
fucking league darts...the best way to explain this is to move onto the next item on the list, 'Fucking league darts.'

Don't let the title make you think I'm negative about wednesday nights; I love it. I've been lucky enough to get a get bunch of chaps together for the team, we have a great laugh, attitude
throughout is very positive, and I'm genuinely cheered to see steady improvement through some of the players newer to the game. The whole thing is ace, and I ALWAYS look forward to it. BUT.
I've won 4 out of 7 league matches-not bad-the difference between practice performance and competitive performance is, quite frankly, staggering. I'm hardly unique in this-the most common threads on the darts forums by FAR are along the lines of 'Why do I play so bad in competition'/'Inability to produce so frustrating'/'I've just murdered my wife in a fit of darts induced rage. I'm going to do the neighbours now, please stop me'-so this might not be news, but the sheer LEVEL of discrepancy has been, at times, staggering. 100s and 80s in practice, 26s and even 11s in competition. THAT bad. Only some pretty flashy checking out-103 and 94-has saved my bacon. Even seem to have developed, on occasion (but on enough for it to have become a it to have become a running team joke) what  I refer to as the 'Hello Sailor' throw. I have a soft grip on my darts (helps maintain a nice release, but requires very grippy darts to balance it out, if that makes sense) and when I manage to hit that perfect form of 'letting go' of the dart mid throw, it drops into the lipstick at least 1 in 3 darts every time. EVERY TIME. It's great. But I've started an alarming habit of sometimes
letting go of the dart way too early, so if just kind of flops out of my hand and doesn't even reach the wall. The frustration/rage from this, combined with the aforementioned poor form has led me
to even turn from the oche and throw my darts into the floor out of frustration. I know. Embarrassing for me, and for the team. And especially risky given that the venue was a bouncy castle. But I

But the other annoying thing is that this has had an effect on my practice games, slowly driving me back into the mid to high 60s, perhaps due to a combination of anixiety over poor comp
performance, and over analysing my throw. It HAS meant I've discovered a few things-don't let my arm get lazy (maintain a fast motion in the arm) release a little earlier than feels 'right' to make
sure it hits the lipstick, and-this is a big one-take a moment on the oche in comp games. Take moment to settle and relax, and then just throw my own game as I would at hoe. Tried this in the
double-in format doubles game last night, and it made a big difference (112 check in. Great performance all round...and then the always reliable finishing cocked up. GNNNNNNNNNN....)
Still, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before this is all ironed out; the trick is to remember all the above (plus keeping the head still) without it being a CONSCIOUS thing. Just have to wait
until it's internalised, and I should be laughing. Fuck it, roll on the 80+.

But as ever, darts fans, the Straight Shooting One refuses to give in to adversity. Fuck THAT, darts fans. In a move that I described as 'insightful' and others have described as 'Buying Snake
Oil', I decided to tackle the mind problems head on. After some probing research (five minutes on the app store and google) I discovered a 4 cd download aimed at sportsmen and women-for just £20!!
Eh? Eh?-called 'Mind Of Steel.' Although the name could do with a bit of work (from, no doubt, the same people that brought you 'Penis Of Titanium' and 'Bowels Of Vesuvius') I decided that this
could well be handy on my journey to develop Instinct Of Tungsten. So I forked over my money (Eh? EH??) and downloaded it. I'm only halfway through so far, and have gleaned a few useful titbits-
sadly, nothing game changing yet-but so far there seems to be an alarming trend with the work of Dr. ShallRemainNameless (Dr. StateTheObvious) in that his 'lessons' seem to go along these lines:
"Your mood is vital to the outcome of your game. The wrong mood cam dramatically alter the standard of your play, and so you have to make sure your mood is correct." (He pauses briefly, and you wait to be told exactly how to achieve the correct mood. He then continues:) "Another important thing is energy..." What the fuck?!? TELL ME HOW TO CORRECT MY MOOD THEN IF IT'S SO IMPORTANT, YOU BLITHERING JACKASS!! And then it occurs to you that quite possibly, the blithering jackass if you, for handing over your £20 to this guy's Bank Account Of Adamantium. But I haven't finished it yet, so who knows? It might have the secret to a Mind Of Steel after all.

Speaking of the mind, that brings me nicely to the other issue I've been pondering at the moment. In a strange kind case of the opposite situation occuring in order for me to consider the current
situation-if that makes sense-Angela is currently inbetween jobs. This means that, at the moment, in the daytimes, instead of only having two dogs for company (and they sleep most of the time) I
suddenly have another person around all day (although again, Ange is either applying for jobs or getting jobs done around the flat, wanting to both make the most productive use of her free time and
to avoid distracting me from getting my own shit done. I am, unfortunately, very easily distracted. Excuse me, there's a blue car outside) and it's great, although I have to confess, despite our
best efforts, I'm not getting as much done as normal. It's so easy to get sidetracked, and take a little longer over meals, and lie in a little longer when you're cuddled up comfy with someone
else. All of which is ok, because it's nice, and it's only temporary. Something interesting that Ange said the other day-in her free time she's now made her own 'jobs' list of tasks to get done-
was that she knows what I mean about there not being enough hours in the day. She was referring to what I often find myself thinking when I get up early, have breakfast, do my morning darts, work
on whatever jobs need doing, have dinner, more time on whatever jobs, then afternoon darts, then it's 7pm (my usual sign off time.) I then think back on the day, and 9 times out of 10 think 'Where
the hell has the time gone? I haven't dawdled, messed around, or really slacked off today, and still I've got NOTHING done.' I always thought that maybe I just wasn't really working hard enough,
but Ange has the best work ethic of anyone I've ever known, and SHE says she finds herself thinking the same thing. It's just wierd how the time seems to evaporate out from under you.

But anyway, realising how much I'm already used to Angela being around has simultaneously made me realise how much worse it's going to be when she goes back to work. Before, I used to actually very much enjoy having these solo days, as I could kind of revel in waking up, focusing, and getting on with things, darts and otherwise, and then my day ends when Ange gets back from work or the gym
and we have our free time together. All good. But I'm now starting to dread her going back, as I can see a very dark period where I wake up to an empty and silent house...every day. It's ironic; I
chose the path of employment that I did because I couldn't stand the idea of routine, and being bound to the same place every single day on someone else's say so. But what I've actually ended up
with it's far, FAR more constricting than any job. In the week, I dedicate all my free time to getting things done, and if I don't, I become overwhelmed with guilt and self-loathing for letting
myself down and contributing to my life not progressing fast enough. Then the weekend comes-when the 9 to 5ers are off having a good time-and I go to work. And that is my life. Yes, this is all for
a reason, and it's all part of a bigger goal of getting somewhere better, be it through darts or other means...but it's a long, long road that stretches out in front of me, Darts Fans, and I can't
see the end, and there's too many days when that leaves me under a big, blackcloud. And the biggest sacrifice of all-by a huge percentage-is the darts. Because it's a big commitment time-wise, and
it's time I could be having a lunch in a nice pub, or watching a film, or doing whatever the hell I like (as most people assume I do I with all my free time. I wish I did. They have absolutely NO
idea) but I don't. Because if I'm not putting that time to good use-darts time or jobs time-then I'm not ever going to make the changes I want. I just hope to god it's all worth it in the end.
But whenever I get down about it-the time spent on darts-I remember that I love the game, and I look at the improvements I've made, and the things that need fixing that I KNOW are fixable, and I
put my head up. I truly believe I can go the distance to get into the big time, and there's a lot of people-friends and, disappointingly, close friends-that openly laugh at that, but fuck them.
What are they doing? What dreams are they chasing? None. And I'd rather have a laughable dream than no dream at all, and I'd rather say 'I tried this and failed' than 'I didn't bother.' It's just
hard, Darts Fans, to keep plugging away at something that all common sense says is a waste of an enormous amount of precious time, and you find yourself stopping and thinking 'hold on...what am I
doing?' (That's not self pity; I'm not trying to garner sympathy, just to explain a facet of the 'journey.') And not only that, but to think that even if I realised it was all a waste of time...could
I stop? After so much time invested in it-and FAR much more to go-could I walk away with nothing to show for it? Or would I have to keep going, despite knowing (if such a realisation occured) that
I was doomed to failure, because I couldn't live with not finishing a job I'd already put so much into? That's a hard question, darts fans.

But I will say this. I actively took a week off practice this week, not for any desire to get away from the game or anything, but because I'd gotten so little jobs done lately, and also because I
figured a week off would probably be a good thing regardless; ideally helping to keep my enthusiasm healthy, and just to check everything else was ok. And all week-despite getting lots of stuff
done, which has been great-you know what I've been absolutely itching to do, all day, every day?

Play darts, mo-fos. Play darts. I miss it, I love it, and I can't wait for tomorrow when the week off ends. So maybe all the above is just a load of bollocks after all. Time will tell. The blog
will either end with some kind of major trophy or a note that simply says '10,000 HOURS FOR FUCK ALL!!! GOODBYE!!!' and a headline somewhere...I do rather hope it's the former rather than the

And to continue the more positive theme, a mention must be made of this seasons online DartPro League. I THINK I've mentioned it in a previous blog, but via the always excellent darts forums, Skype, a webcam, and the free software DartPro, I've entered, for the second time, a season of the dartpro league, which, as the name suggests, is playing darts against a human opponent via the aforementioned soft and hardware. The first season, I don't think I won a game. THIS season, I've played, I think, 2 league games and 1 cup game-as well as 2 friendlies-and won them all, and all by some margin. 5 for 5. Don't get me wrong-they were close games, I didn't throw to my best average by a LONG chalk (see previous section on competitive league night games, GRRRR) but some tip-top finishing (including a 118 checkout) put me over well, I think the closest scoreline being 7-4. So if that doesn't say there's an improvement-no wins to 5 wins, and two against people who've beaten me soundly before-then what does?

So THAT's a nice place to leave this installment, Darts Fans, and what a nice long installment it's been. Let no-one says that Arrows Of Outrageous Fortune doesn't give you plenty of bang for your
no-bucks. Speaking of money's worth, if anyone needs to book well-priced live musical entertainment for whatever occasion, contact Barry Herbert at Mainstream Management, and say you want to book
Luke. Mention this blog, and he'll say 'That's interesting' and still charge you full price. BUT!! At over 100 downloads (and if any of them were from you, darts fans, I thank you sincerely from
the bottom of my heart) the free download of my book, The Physics Of The Dead, is going great guns. If you have a blackberry, or iPhone, or any kind of smartphone, get the FREE Kindle app on it
first and visit to get your copy. Let's face it; if you enjoy this meandering blather, then think how much you'll enjoy some carefully crafted, well-
structured, exciting mystery-driven fantastical realism in the same vein as Lost and Twin Peaks, all for FREE! UNLESS you fancy spending the £1.71 to buy the pay version from
(  You can at least see the cover here...and the 5 star review!!) For those of you who have sent me your very kind reviews, I am very, very grateful indeed. And for those that didn't like it and kept their opinions to themselves, that's probably best...

And to you, Darts Fan, book bullshit aside, thankyou for reading, as ever. According to my stat counter, this blog has now-God alone knows how-now has nearly 500 unique users. Of course this is
some kind of computer error, but it makes me happy. Thankyou. After I sign off, I shall list the stretches recommended by Tanya at Fire And Earth ( and Angela (don't worry, she's a qualified personal trainer. And a terrible drunk) and Shane's helpful twitter suggestions. I just need to find some internet photos to illustrate...

See you next time, Darts Fans.

Stay Hungry,

Straight Shooting Luke Smitherd

All these stretches are, of course, to be done POST practice. You should never stretch muscles that haven't been lightly warmed up. The whole lot should take you no more than about 3 minutes, and it's really worth it. Man with cap photos and text courtesy of

Lie down on your back and pull both knees up to your chest. Hold your arms under the knees, not over (that would put to much pressure on your knee joints). Slowly pull the knees toward your shoulders.
Sit in a chair or on a bench with both feet flat on the floor. Start by rotating your head and chest to one side, so that at least one hand touches the back of your chair. Keep your feet planted. After you place yourself in this position, take a big breathe and, on the exhalation, twist just a bit further. You can also do this standing about one foot in front of a wall (keep your back facing the wall). Place one or both hands on the wall behind you to stabilize your torso and brace against your hands to twist your spine further. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Interlace fingers with your palm facing inward. Drop shoulders, stand upright with your back straight, and push your hands forward. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
You don't have to do the shit with the bent elbow, this is the best  photo I could find. Basically, this, but seated upright, with your waist straight. Bend to the side at the waist with your extended arm up and over your head and to the side. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then swap sides. This will also turn you into a girl with a ponytail.
THIS ISN'T THE RIGHT PICTURE EITHER, BUT THE LEG POSITION IS RIGHT. Do the previous exercise, but with your legs like this. Ah, you'll work it out.


Can't find the right picture. Bollocks, I'll just describe it, it's mind numbingly easy.
Stand upright and turn your head to the right. Then push your left shoulder down as you stay looking right. Hold for 10 seconds, then swap sides. Piece of piss.


Flat Roofer Nottingham Derby