14 December 2011

Not That I'm One To Complain ............

............ but in an effort to avoid the crowded car park and queues at the checkout I offered to do the Xmas "big-shop" online

Click to enlarge

'kin useless :(

EDIT Now I've got into site and no delivery slots available from Tuesday 20th till the morning of 27th
Double 'kin useless

15 November 2011

Time To Dig Out The Thermals

Following a glorious autumnal day (see Sunday's post), today, only two days later,  it appears winter may finally have arrived. For the first time this year I had to scrape ice from my car windscreen this morning. Not quite to the extent in this photo but ice nevertheless.
Time to dig out those hats gloves and thermals

02 November 2011

Saved By A Spanish Super-Hero

Last week I had a very enjoyable week in Spain with the family. Not content with sitting on the beach all week, one day we took a drive up into the mountains of the Sierra de Espuña. Whist there we came across the village of Aledo seemingly clinging to the edge a steep slope just asking to be explored. Our hire car was a Seat Ibiza, not the biggest of cars but certainly no micro-mini, and as we drove around the almost medieval looking village the streets, presumably designed for donkeys not cars, became narrower and narrower. Soon we had literally inches to spare on either side, and just as I was contemplating folding in the wing mirrors we came upon a right angled left-hand bend. The picture below is one I have found online, I can't be certain but I am pretty sure it was this bend, with us approaching from the right and turning towards the camera position.

The picture, if anything, makes the road look a lot wider than it did at the time, and as I tried to negotiate the turn I soon realised I was wedged - any further progress would result in a crumpled right front bumper or left wing (or both). I wasn't worried about causing a traffic jam, the whole village was deserted, presumably on afternoon siesta. Reversing though simply wasn't an option, and I was already thanking my lucky stars I had been talked into the extra insurance at the car hire desk.

Suddenly a dark curly haired Spaniard appeared in front of the car. There were 4 of us in the car, none saw where he came from . He was just there as if by magic! In rapid, incomprehensible to us, Spanish he gave me instructions, signalling with his hands which way to turn the steering wheel, whilst dancing from side to side inspecting the sides of the car every couple of inches. I still don't know the Spanish for stop, but language wasn't a barrier, I sure knew when he was telling me not to go any further.

After half a dozen or so manoeuvres we were round the bend. I stopped so that I could at least wave him a thank you. But he was gone. There was hardly room for the car to have even passed him, yet he had simply vanished. Not one of us saw where he went.

He may have only been wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, no cape or mask, but to us you were our Spanish Super-Hero. If by some chance you ever read this, a big muchas gracias. If you even exist at all that is !

09 October 2011

Pumpkin Picked

A quick update to my earlier post my first attempt at growing a pumpkin has been picked, weighing in at a decent 35lb 12oz .

07 October 2011

Charity begins at home

In a few weeks time I am off on holiday . My weeks routine of rest and relaxation usually involves getting stuck into a good book or two, whilst in bed, on the balcony or at the beach. To avoid the overpriced book shops at the airport I generally pay a visit to the local charity shop and select 2 or 3 paperbacks . The advantage is twofold. Cheap enough, usually 50p each or 3 for £1, it doesn't matter if I don't enjoy them or ruin them by dropping then in the pool and once read I don't need to bother bringing them home. Also the purchase price, albeit a small one, goes to a good cause.
Today, in a spare 5 minutes I popped in and selected 3 clearly second hand paper backs. I handed them to the lady behind the counter and delved into my pocketful of change as she rung in £1.50. Ah well, clearly the 3 for a £ no longer applied. Then she picked up the second book and rung in another £1.50. Then done the same with the third before asking me for a total if £4.50.
I was so shocked I handed over a fiver and, mouth agape, silently accepted my 50p change .
When I got outside I checked and indeed all 3 had £1.50 pencilled inside the cover. This despite being second hand and donated freely, and one of them still bearing its  original brand new price sticker of £1.99 or 3 for £5.
I have no objection to donating to good causes but this is simply taking the piss. This is the same shop where I once saw a man's shirt in the window priced at £4.99, still in its original Asda wrapper marked £2.99. Indeed charity begins at home, but in future I will stay at home at buy my holiday reading on Amazon.

11 September 2011

Heavy Plant Crossing ?

A few months ago I was out with several friends when one announced that we should have a pumpkin growing competition and produced a handful of small brown envelopes each containing  a single seed. (A risky procedure in a crowded pub) I thought I might as well play along and took one.
Not being a gardener - the occasional lawn mowing is about my limit - I went out into the back garden, made a small hole in the ground with a bit of twig, dropped the seed in and covered it over. Except for the occasional watering during a dry spell (you remember, back in April/May when it didn't rain for ... well a couple of days) that was my sole contribution to what followed.
After a couple of weeks a shoot broke through the surface roughly in the area I remembered burying the seed, leaves quickly followed, and day by day it proceeded to get bigger. As the plant spread along the ground, several yellow flowers appeared and eventually what was clearly a fruit (or is it a vegatable? or a gourd?) started to appear. The pumpkin visibily increased in size by the day and the plant carried on growing untill last week it had reached about 12ft in length and had run out of garden as it was now up against the fence and could go no further.
This is where the things took a strange turn (if you'll pardon the pun). As you will see from the video below, unable to extend any further the plant has decided to make a left turn and is now growing at right angles across a concrete path. Meanwhile the pumpkin continues to expand.
I've no idea when it is time to harvest my "crop", I assume it must be around Halloween time. It should make a few pies, some pumpkin soup and a decent Jack-o-Lantern by then, but it does leave me wondering how big the plant might have got if I'd looked after it.
Next year I'll be changing my name to Jack and planting a bean stalk!

07 September 2011

...And Relax !

The school holidays are over. 

As a kid they seemed to go on for ever but never for long enough. As an adult I hate them twofold.
Firstly because my shop's business includes selling school uniforms, which builds to a peak of frantic stressed parents panicking because the "back to school" day has caught them unaware. Year after year I take a secret smug satisfaction in having sold out of an item that a parent needs "now" because Little Johny/Jane starts school in five minutes and nobody told them what day they started / what uniform they needed /  where to get it. Despite 99% of other parents in the school knowing all this, of course it's never their fault. And why they think if they repeat the words "What am I going to do now" over and over again I'll be able to magic one out of thin air I've never understood.

But frantic as it all becomes, it's a necessary part of business. My second, but much bigger "hate" is the fact that my wife works as a teaching assistant. Not only can she spend the beautiful summer days lazing around sunbathing in the garden (well not this year obviously) she gets to have 6 weeks of lie ins. Accustomed as I am to having a nice "wake-me-up" cup of tea brought to me in bed (who are you calling spoilt ?) I spend the summer weeks getting myself up and - shock horror - having to make my own cuppa.

Now it's all over for another year - normality is resumed.

17 August 2011

What A Difference 37.5 Years Makes

2nd February 1974
Old Division 1
Ipswich 7 Southampton 0
What footballers used to look like
Saints had travelled to Ipswich (if my memory serves me correctly it was a Saturday night time match for reasons I can't remember) and put up not much of a display at all in a 7-0 thrashing which I listened to in my bedroom. Much later that night, possibly into the early hours of the morning, I awoke to the noise of the party that my parents were hosting. I started to wander downstairs in my pyjamas to see what all the noise was about only to find my way blocked by none other than Eric Martin, the Saints goalkeeper who had let in 7 earlier that evening, and a few other players from the same team.
I was incensed (or as incensed as a young half asleep child in his pyjamas can be when unexpectedly coming across one of his heroes in his own home) and started ripping into Eric telling him what a disgrace it was that they were out enjoying themselves after playing so badly and letting the team down blah blah blah.
Eric calmly stopped his conversation with his team mates, drew on his fag, dipped two fingers into what I (probably naively) assumed was lemonade, and with a quick flick of the wrist shot  drink into both my eyes, whilst uttering, in his broad Scottish accent, the immortal words "Fuck off kid"
So I did.:(

Fast forward 37.5 years
16th August 2011
Championship (Old Div 2)
Ipswich 2 Southampton 5  
Modern day version
We've played each other and beaten each other many times since, but last night we finally gave them the long awaited thrashing in revenge. Listening on the radio the final scoreline flattered Ipswich. But more importantly is the total professionalism of the players nowadays. The club has been through a terrible few years, it's actual existence being in doubt only just over 2 years ago. Since then the club has been transformed from top to bottom and the whole ethos is reflecting in the way the team plays. Back in 74 a professional footballer was just a very good footballer (this didn't necessarily apply in Southampton's case) who got paid to play. Now they have so much scientific research into their fitness and diets there is simply no comparison.  I doubt any footballer with any respect for his profession would be caught smoking nowadays, although I'm sure they still partake in the odd after match lemonnade or two (all in the interest of team spirit of course).
In years gone by a Tuesday night Saints away game was a home banker whoever the opposition. Now our 9th consecutive league victory has smashed club records and had me casting an eye on the all time record (6 more needed for that). A 7-0 thrashing by any side simply seems out of the question at the moment.
There was one similarity with 37 odd years ago though. I once again listened to the game in my (considerably bigger) pyjamas. Some things never change.

15 August 2011

Carlsberg don't do Saturdays ..................

..............But if they did England cricket would go top of the world, Southampton would go top of the league, Pompey would lose at home after missing a last minute penalty and I would win the lottery.

Clearly Carlsberg can only influence sporting events.

13 August 2011

That's It - Times Up

The deadline has been and gone. The annual obsession that Fantasy Football has now started. The cut off time for making changes to my start of season line-up has passed. I am stuck with the team I have (apart from the allowed one a week transfers). Not a ball has been kicked in earnest yet, but my team already bears little resemblance to my original selection. With one game featuring two of my players called off, one player sold, one listed as injured and four listed as doubtful there's already been a lot of head scratching and tinkering going on.

The next 9 months will be full of statistic studying, watching games I have no interest in, regular checking of rival players teams, a tweak here or there and no doubt wholesale changes within the rules of the game. For what reason? None, other than the satisfaction of picking a team capable of beating mates in our private league. 

My biggest complaint about premiership football is the sheer predictability of it all. But if that's really the case how come I can never win the damn game !

The Week That Was - Why?

As every one knows by now parts of England suffered some of it's worst civil unrest in living memory. There's no point going over it again, we've all read about it, we've all seen the pictures, some readers may even have been directly affected. The question that needs answering is who was to blame. Absolutely no doubt in my mind, the people that took part. Plain and simple.

The bigger question, and the one that needs serious action to resolve, is who is to blame for those taking part thinking that it is ok for them to act in such a manner. Unfortunately the answer, in my opinion, is all of us. The majority apprehended so far appear to have been in the late-teen age group so are what could loosely be described as  a generation. Keeping (as best I can) political bias out of the following list, this is a generation that has grown up with (in no particular order):-
  • Parents that have been allowed to shirk their responsibilities in teaching their children the difference between right and wrong and the true meaning of respect for themselves and others. Children have grown up thinking that they can act as they like without any responsibility for the consequences (some even seem unaware that actions have consequences)
  • Teachers who are unable to force a child to behave and/or knuckle down and learn because they may be accused of infringing the child's "human rights".
  • Schools wasting more resources on the disruptive minority than the majority who are there to learn.
  • Police who must be sick to death of apprehending criminals (especially juveniles) only to see the courts hand out the softest of punishments (if any at all) sending out the message that breaking the rules doesn't really matter. And afraid to take split second decisions when urgent action is needed for fear of later prosecutions if anything goes wrong.
  • A system of benefits and tax credits that have almost enslaved a portion of society to non-employment. Even those that genuinely want to work find that to take a job means that due to loss of benefits they would actually be worse off.
  • Unrestricted immigration which means that many that are prepared to work find that jobs have already been filled by others coming here from other countries.
  • No sense of true leadership in the country. Agree or disgree with her policies can you think of any PM, or MP even for that matter that has truly given the impression of being a Leader capable of being in charge of the country since Thatcher?. The expenses scandal also lost a lot of respect for the government, many seeing it as "them getting away with it"
  • Concentration of academic acheivement at the expense of vocational training. Admittedly everyone has the same opportunity in our education system, but there are some who are simply not capable of (or not interested in) academic acheivement. They may well be capable of laying bricks (just one random example) and earn good money from it but where is the vocational training in schools to help direct them down a more suitable path?
  • A growing culture of instant gratification, an "I want it and I want it now" attitude.  Reward without effort. We've all seen reports of how much the likes of (for example) Wayne Rooney or Rio Ferdinand earns How many that aspire to his lifestyle have been shown the dedication time and effort it took them to get to the top of their profession to be able to earn it.
  • The banking crisis has caused economic difficulty which can breed resentment. The banks had to be bailed out, the alternative would have been far worse. Yet I have never seen an official version of why, set out in a simple everyday language to help people understand the situation. Lack of understanding fuels resentment
  • An environment where "political correctness" often over rules common sense, and the "rights" of criminals seem to take precedence over the rights of victims.
I have long said that allowing a section of our society to grow up with the attitudes of those seen causing the problems this week is a bigger threat to our country than any terrorist group.  Maybe this week was the wake up call the country needs. I said above we are all to blame, what I meant is that, in general, we have all allowed the  above factors to happen with no real protest. Maybe the country as a whole needs to be a bit more pro-active when it is clear that things are going wrong with society, instead of moaning about it amongst ourselves but effectively burying our heads in the sand. Although I am now treading on dangerous ground, some would say that is exactly what has been going on this week.

What are the answers? I don't have them. It's often said that National Service bred respect and responsibility. I can't see that ever being reintroduced, but maybe some form of Citizenship test should be passed before a child is considered an adult?. Punish parents for the actions of their children? Maybe parents need to pass a test before they can actually have children.? It should be ensured that no-one who actively wants to work should be worse off by taking it. No-one should be able to simply avoid work (out of choice) and live off the state without contributing something back. And above and beyond somehow a sense of community, of togetherness, or responsibility and respect to ones neighbourhood needs to be installed. Maybe the Krays and their like had the right idea all along?

It's important to remember that despite the huge media frenzy over the disturbances those taking part are still in the vast majority in our country. I'd like to think that the picture below of one of the many clean up operations by volunteers still represents the true England.  But, if problems continue to be ignored, for how long?

Broom Army photo by @Lawcol888

01 August 2011

Picture problems ?

Hmmm. It appears the 2 pictures in the previous posts uploaded directly from my phone via the blogger app aren't of the best quality. I'll have to see what's gone wrong. No doubt there'll be a setting somewhere that needs a tweak or two. Having said that, the signal in the areas they were sent from, surrounded by high cliffs, was so hit and miss I'm amazed they ever got uploaded at all !

24 July 2011

Take Me Down To The Ball Park

This year, thanks to receiving ESPN America and excellent coverage on the internet via MLB   I have finally got to understand the game of baseball. At the start of the season I picked a team to follow at random and went for the Seattle Mariners . A team that as I later found out , have never really done anything , being one of only two teams never to have reached a (over inflated ego style titled ) World Series.
Following the games has been easy . The time difference means most are played whilst I sleep but a quick check on my phone every morning tells me all I need to know. The statistics give a comprehensive indication of how the game went ( more like cricket than football in that respect )  with video highlights of all the major incidents . Game by game the rules and tactics all started to make sense.
Just like Southampton my football team always seem to do, they started the season badly. A good recovery saw them challenging for a play off place untill suddenly things went off the rails . Now 100 games into the 162 game season they are currently on an unwanted team equaling  record of 14 defeats in a row . I'd imagine that they will be going into todays game with some trepidation.
I'll follow the rest of the season with interest. The question is, having absolutely no connection with Seattle do I stick with them forever or pick a new team to follow next year. After all I entered their free ticket competition on Twitter explaining that I deserved 2 free tickets to a game because they were my newly adopted team in a new sport and a real life game would only help me appreciate them and the sport even more, but travel expenses would need to be included. I didn't win - maybe another team would appreciate my support a bit more.

22 July 2011

Lucky Escape.

He didn't really look like this
Whilst driving last night I rounded a bend and could see about 200 yards ahead of me the aftermath of an accident, with 2 cars off road on a forecourt being attended by an ambulance. As I approached a policeman stood out in the road, hand raised. I pulled up, assuming he was asking me to stop to let the ambulance pull out. I then spotted the exasperated look on his face and realised he was waving me in to the side of the road. I pulled in and wound down the window.
" What is the speed limit on this stretch of road sir? " He asked
"40" I replied confidently
"No it's 30"
My expression changed from confusion to slow realisation as out of the corner of my eye I spotted the 40 sign set in a big yellow square another 100 yards down the road "Oh shit!" (possibly not the best expression to have used at the time) " No! 40 starts just down there doesn't it "
He nodded knowingly showing me his hand held thing displaying 39m.p.h. (gulp!) and then went on to point out that he was only there to deal with the accident caused by others going too fast.
He then asked " Do you really want your evening to end with 3 points and a £60 fine?" I guess the question was really rhetorical but before my brain could stop it my mouth had already sprung into action with  " I'd sooner not if you don't mind".
Thankfully he smiled and waved me on my way with a gentle warning to take more care in future.

Thinking afterwards, the gentle warning was just as, if not more, effective than the speeding fine I received after being caught by an anonymous camera van 4 or 5 years ago. Having the accident itself pointed out as an outcome of excessive speed was testimony enough. And being shown the speed at the time whilst the road layout was still fresh in my mind made me realise that the S bend I'd just come round immediately followed by a junction, a pub car park exit, an awkward junction (scene of the accident) next to a forecourt with another 2 junctions (one half hidden) and another pub car park all within about 400 yards or so actually did warrant a 30mph limit. (Local readers may be able to work out the location from that). I was surprised I had actually reached 39mph - and possibly more as I would have still been accelerating when he "zapped" me - so soon after the previous right turn (although I had spent the entire journey accelerating quickly after reading that my 1.8 engine would be more economical if you accelerate hard up to 5th gear speeds as quickly as possible instead of driving like a granny with gentle acceleration in the lower gears). Instead of the annoyance that I felt when previously caught on camera, the personal approach left me feeling relieved to be let off but also that I actually owed it to the officer to take a bit more care in future.

As I drove off I could see him in my mirror already back out in the road, stopping cars heading towards him in the opposite direction to me - I hope he was as lenient with all of them.

10 July 2011

Reclaiming The Dead

This morning I dropped my wife and a friend over at Southampton Common as they were taking part in the annual Race For Life event. With an hour or so to kill till they were done, I decided to wander around with my camera. One lone man taking photos amongst 7500 pink clad women was likely to gain a few suspicious glances (or worse) so I headed away from the main event and into the Old Cemetery.

Despite having lived in the Southampton area all my life this was a place I had never visited. I was surprised by how overgrown it all was, appearances would suggest deliberately so. Having visited plenty of cemeteries with perfectly manicured lawns and colourful flower displays, this one had a completely different atmosphere. It was as if nature was reclaiming the place, and the dead with it. There was undergrowth rapidly becoming overgrowth, tangling around headstones, almost obliterating them from view in places, and some even breaking graves open. Thankfully, with the sun shining and some jazz tunes playing in my headphones it was difficult to let my imagination run away with me. But no way will I be revisiting the place at night !

(Press Play for slideshow)

06 July 2011

Thailand Comes To Town

I've never had the opportunity to visit to Thailand but on Sunday we popped into town and paid a visit to the Thai Food & Craft Festival 2011.

My overall impression:
  • music that seemed like it was trying to blend varying styles unsuccesfully;
  • women in a beauty contest that seemed to lack that essential ingredient
  • food absolutely wonderful, can't wait to try more
Not enough to persuade me to travel half way round the world but it killed an hour or so on a Sunday afternoon.

Don't think my review will trouble Lonely Planet or Rough Guides but here are some of my photos from the afternoon

02 July 2011

Mobile Blogger

I used to be quite happy with my previous mobile. Then I was offered a free upgrade to an HTC Desire S. Wow ! It's like going from a calculator to a lap top ! In my completely non-techie  opinion it's an awesome handset . The downside is that since I've had it I've hardly touched the pc , apart from work there's simply been no need. Blog posts have , as a result , become few and far between. But I've just discovered the android Blogger app which if it works  ( and if you are reading this it must do ) enables me to blog on the phone.

So be prepared have the pants bored right off you on a much more frequent basis .

21 June 2011

Happy Midsummer's Day

Today is of course the summer solstice (for us in the Northern hemisphere anyway). A quick google search for an image to illustrate the occasion brought up the following as the top selection - I couldn't have put it better myself.

20 June 2011

My All Time XI

I was recently asked by the editor of the excellent Southampton FC blog georgeweahscousin ( a name only Saints fans and Graemme Souness are likely to understand), to provide a list of my all time best (and worst) Saints XI. The point of the request was to prove a point that the answer will vary depending on age , and he needed an old man's selection (although I was pleased to see he managed to find one older than me.) The article appears HERE and proves the point nicely. Although there are a few recurring picks, the all-time best XI clearly does depend on your age and the era you feel was the best period during your life as a fan. 

It's all opinion of course, there's no way of physically comparing a player from the 70s with a player today. Statistics can only tell us so much, and also hide a lot more, and will continue to be the subject of pub (or blog) conversations for years to come. And that, more than anything else is what makes football, and any other sport for that matter, such a favourite pass time and talking point.

For the record my selection is as below, (at least at the time of writing any way) Spoiler Alert: Small clue appears on the left.  Chances are if I was asked to pick it again tomorrow I may make a couple of changes. It's was quite a shock realising how many superb players I had had to leave out. Why not have a go at picking yours, but do it before you read mine.

GK Peter Shilton – “Didn’t have to do a lot, he was so dominant the defence was scared to make a mistake. When they did he was like another one man defensive line all on his own. Still England’s record cap holder (125) should have been much higher but for a job-share arrangement with Ray Clemence. Booze, birds but still simply the best. Crap on Strictly Come Dancing.”
RB Ivan Golac – “First of the modern day foreign imports after we finally got round work permit problems, and possibly still the best value for money foreigner to this day. Took no prisoners in defence, and was even better going forwards . Scored a thunderbolt against WBA from at least 75 yards that their keeper never even saw. Used feigned lack of English to keep himself out of trouble with the ref, was the first foreigner to play in a Wembley final.”
CH Mark Wright – “A very good youngster who got better and better thanks to being paired with and learning from some experienced greats. Looked too frail to be a centre half but had great positional play and perfect timing. Reminiscent of Bobby Moore as, with head up, he would bring the ball out of defence and always look to pass, never hoof . Can still hear the sound his (frail looking) leg made as it snapped in the 86 semi final. Sadly ginger.”
LB Steve Mills – “England international in the making (he played for the Under 23s), it was clear we had unearthed a new star before his career was cruelly cut short after only 60 appearances first by injuries sustained in a car crash and then later developing (and sadly passing away from) leukaemia. Fast, tough tackling, intelligent passer and capable of a quick overlap and getting back again in no time. For younger fans imagine Wayne Bridge but twice as good. Maybe three times.”
LBRBCHRMLMCMRWLWCFS Nick Holmes - ”I’d play him just in front of the CH behind the Midfield, put as the positional initials show he played virtually every position for Saints except keeper and never ever let us down. Never received the international recognition he deserved, possibly due to his beard. Seemed a quiet character on the pitch, he simply got on with his job and done it well, very well. It was often said that you only really noticed him if, through injury, he wasn’t there, and you’d be looking for the three players we seemed to be missing. For me this jack-of-all-trades-master-of-all would be the first on every team sheet.”
RW Terry Paine - ”Still holds the record for most appearances for the club. Tirelessly hogging the touchline, one of, if not the best crosser of a ball I’ve ever seen. Played in the 66 World Cup squad but picked up an injury so never made the final. Unlike most modern wingers, not afraid to stick a boot, or elbow, in when needed, dropped back into a deeper midfield role as age and differing tactics caught up with him.”
CM Kevin Keegan -  ”The signing that shocked the football world, it came as big a shock as if we signed Messi today. He didn’t stay long (a couple of seasons) but gave 110% every minute he was on the pitch. Total live-wire, his amazing enthusiasm rubbed off on other players who wouldn’t or couldn’t let their standards drop in his presence. He always struck me as a short player who was a giant on the pitch (the afro may have helped there) Scored the world’s best ever disallowed goal (search YouTube for it) not to mention the goal that took Saints to the top of the league – not our division, THE league. Hard to believe nowadays with not just Saints but football changing so much since then but yes, with him in our team we really were the best side in the country for a while.”
CM David Armstrong - ”Just 3 England caps for a player that would walk into today’s national team, he was unfortunate to play in an era when our country had a dearth of mid-fielders. Fantastic box to box player, great at bringing others into the game, making goal after goal for our forwards whilst contributing better than 1 goal in every 4 games himself (a ratio many forwards would be proud of). Added bonus of his head dazzling the opposition under floodlights.”
LW Danny Wallace - ”To be fair not a winger as such but was always prepared to hang out wide before bursting inside on a run and terrifying defenders who never knew if he would take the ball past them to their right, left or through their legs. Often utilised in Chris Nicols (unheard of nowadays) 4-2-4 formation he scored a MotD goal of the season with an overhead kick against Liverpool, which I missed, still the one and only time I’ve been for a pee during a game. Added advantage of being able to swap him for brothers Rodney or Ray if he gets tired and no-one will notice.”
CF Ron Davies -  ”The best header of a ball. Ever. Anywhere. Any time. Benefited from the accuracy of Paine’s crosses but I’m sure he would still have got his head to most balls if it had been my Gran crossing them for him. He scored four headed goals away at Old Trafford. I don’t mean in his career I mean in ONE game and ended up as top scorer in the top division. He, like Ryan Giggs, had the footballing misfortune of being Welsh, depriving him of what would have been a well deserved place on the world stage.”
S Mike Channon -  ”A striker capable of scoring from anywhere, whether playing through the middle or starting out on the wing* and cutting in. An England regular he played the game with a smile, not least as he “stumbled” over a defenders leg to gain yet another penalty. Scorer of the Greatest Goal Ever® (search YouTube for Greatest Goal Ever®) when against Liverpool he finished off a move consisting of over a thousand passes without them touching the ball before wheeling away giving his trademark windmill arm goal celebration. *Wing positions were often taken up in order to get the racing results , another advantage of the Dell crowds close proximity to the pitch.”
Sub: Matthew Le Tissier -  ”Famed for his one club loyalty he has probably more individual talent than any of the above but in my opinion all of the above are better team players. Capable of scoring from virtually anywhere in the opponents half, lethal with free kicks and penalties, but starts on the bench as he was prone to disappear for long spells (sometimes as long as 90 minutes especially if it was cold and raining) Selection as sub possibly clouded by my love of being controversial but hey, this is MY team.”
Worst XI:-
“I refuse to pick a worst XI. After all, good bad or indifferent, they are all Saints and therefore worthy of our support and respect.
Except for David Speedie &Kerry Dixon. They were s***e.”

20 May 2011

Big Day Tomorrow (Maybe. Possibly. Bet It's Not)

Tomorrow, May 21st 2011, according to Harold Camping and a (seemingly growing by the minute) bunch of  believers, is the day that Rapture will take place

Camping gained notoriety due to his prediction that the Christian Rapture will take place on May 21, 2011  and that the end of the world will take place five months later on October 21, 2011. Followers of Camping claim that around 200 million people (approximately 3% of the world's population) will be raptured. As for the remainder of the human population, Camping himself believes in annihilationism, which is the view that those who are not saved will simply cease to be conscious rather than spend eternity in Hell. Those who were "unsaved" and died prior to May 21 will not be affected by or experience the Rapture or the end of the world.

I'll be looking for the salt cellar so I can take the proverbial pinch, but if it did happen, should I be pleased I can get on with my life? or offended I've been overlooked? or make the most of the fact there'll be less traffic on the roads come Monday morning?

Whatever, I think I prefer Blondie's version of events.

14 May 2011

Football's Big Day

Of all the decisions the FA  and the Premier League have taken since the PL breakaway from the Football League today has to be it's most shameful disregard for tradition yet.

Today is FA Cup Final day, where Stoke City who are playing in their first final in this competition take on Manchester City, who are trying to win something for the first time in ages. The show-piece of the tournament often referred to as The Greatest Knockout Competition In The World kicks off in a couple of hours. Yet as I type am listening to one of several Premier League games taking place on this special day (they are not alone there are also League 1 and 2 play off matches today).

The "official" excuse is that as Wembley is being used for the final of the Champions League this year, and the CL insists on the stadiums availabilty, unused, for 2 whole weeks before their game, then there was no choice but to play the final today instead of the regular end of the domestic season finale. No choice possibly, but the PL certainly had the choice to insist that all of this weekends league matches were played tomorrow. Fair enough, none of the matches are being played whilst the final is taking place but, apart from the fans of the teams taking part, the whole magic of the day has been robbed for the neutral.
Approaching 50 years old I have great memories of FA Cup day from my childhood. I remember watching the replay of Chelsea v Leeds in 1970 (in black and white) but my first "proper" memory was the following year when Arsenal played Liverpool (in colour so the families first ever colour tv must have arrived during the intervening months). Along with subsequent years, except for Southampton's famous win in 1976, I had no allegiance to the teams taking part but it was still a special day. As far as I can recall it was the only opportunity to watch a live game on TV all season, even England games were recorded highlights on Sportsnight. Both BBC and ITV would show the game, and both would try and outdo each other with their build ups, often starting ridiculously early in the day. Camera crews would follow the teams at breakfast, walking round their hotel grounds, on their coach, arriving at Wembley, out onto the pitch even into the dressing rooms and search out the "craziest fans. Such was the overkill you really felt you were there, and felt the tension rising as kick off approached. Special programmes would be shown with tenuous links to the teams or cities taking part such as Cup Final Mastermind or It's A Knockout. Celebrities from A list to Z list would be given air time to announce their allegiance to one of the finalists (whose supporters often had no idea they shared their love of their team with such "famous" fans). 

I have yet to hear one comment in favour of playing this years final and league matches on the same day - even Harry Redknapp thinks it's wrong and looks genuinely upset by the decision,  and It's rarely I ever even believe, let alone agree with a word he says. Charlie Georges winning goal in 1971 is still etched in my mind, I doubt I'll be saying the same in 40 years time about today's winner.

12 May 2011

Super Injunction Denial

I came down and opened the curtains this morning and was shocked to find the front garden full of press and photographers. It turns out they've got the wrong man, It's Worzel with an O not a U who is denying the super injunction rumours linking him with a certain Aunt Sally.

27 April 2011

New Forest Panorama

New Forest by Wurzel
New Forest, a photo by Wurzel on Flickr.
This is the view from the Abbots Well car park at Frogham in the New Forest looking in the direction of Frtitham. This is an area that I visited many times as a small child, with family friends living just up the road from where this was taken. In those days it seemed like a major expedition in the back of my Dad's car just to get there, nowadays it is about a half hour drive. I count myself really lucky to have such a beautiful part of the country so close to home.

It Was A Little Bit Frightening .....

Political correctness is one of my pet hates. Today I awake to news of, as the oft used saying goes, political correctness gone mad. A pub singer on the Isle of Wight has been arrested for singing the 1970s hit Kung Fu Fighting.

He was performing the song as part of his set when two chinese walked past, took offence and notifies the police. The are several important facts here, not least that he was not aiming the song at them, he was unaware of their presence, no offence was intended, they simply overheard the song and chose to make a complaint. Another, pretty important in my opinion, is the fact that there is absolutely nothing racist in the song.  Surely the fact that the song is 37 years old (and I remember it well, that dates me ) and no-one  to my knowledge has complained before says it all. The lyrics of the song, both written and performed by Carl Douglas, are as follows:- 

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they fought with expert timing

They were funky China men from funky Chinatown
They were chopping them up and they were chopping them down
It's an ancient Chineese art and everybody knew their part
From a feint into a slip, and kicking from the hip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightning
But they fought with expert timing

There was funky Billy Chin and little Sammy Chung
He said here comes the big boss, lets get it on
We took a bow and made a stand, started swinging with the hand
The sudden motion made me skip now we're into a brand knew trip

Everybody was kung-fu fighting
Those cats were fast as lightning
In fact it was a little bit frightening
But they did it with expert timing

(repeat)..make sure you have expert timing
Kung-fu fighting, had to be fast as lightning 

What is there, even for a Chinaman, to take offence to in that song? Have they , misheard the word "funky" for something a little less polite? Offensive to cats? Maybe, by an amazing coincidence, they not only happened to be walking past whilst the song was being performed but also happen to be Billy Chin and Sammy Chung (if so possibly Sammy even considered the lyrics heightist as well) . 

Admittedly the Isle of Wight is not exactly a hot bed of crime and debauchery but  can't believe that the police there are so short of cases to solve that they pursued this. Ironically, the singer was arrested, after they phoned him and he agreed to meet them, in a Chinese restaurant.

Whilst stories like this appear comical in isolation, it's what they can lead to that is frightening. Comedians have already had to tame down their acts for fear of causing offence, next  will songs have to be checked as suitable to all in a 3 minute walking radius before being sung, or simply banned completely?

If this case is successful I may try for a case of mental cruelty next time I hear Tony Christie's Amarillo. I could call 2200 witnesses who happened to be at Fratton Park on 24th April 2005 to back me up.

For anyone not familiar with the Carl Douglas hit (deemed so in offensive that it went to Number One in the UK, USA and other countries and even won a Grammy in 1974 for best selling single) then here it is - catch it while you still can.

07 April 2011

Turn Off The Red Lights

Coming from Southampton it's not often I hand out any praise in the direction of Portsmouth, but for once I have to admire them for getting things right. The city has requested permission from the Department for Transport to switch off it's red and green traffic lights at night, leaving them on flashing amber indicating proceed with caution.

What a great idea that is. But will the DfT allow a scheme which -  hands up in horror - necessitates drivers to think for themselves and make a judgement on  their safety and that of other drivers? Let's hope so.

Earlier this week I travelled back from Lyndhurst to the Eastern side of Southampton at around 11pm in the evening. I decided to use the Totton/M271/M27 route, forgetting that the M271 was closed at night for repairs. No problem, just follow the A35 past the docks (after all it was late at night so not going to hit much traffic) and over the Itchen Bridge. Reaching said bridge I realised I had again forgotten that that was also closed for repairs, so another diversion past the stadium and along the A3024 route. 

Had the M271 been open the 12 mile journey from it's start  to Jct 8 of the M27 would have taken around 12 minutes to complete. Instead the shorter 10 mile journey through town took just over 30 minutes in virtually no traffic, having passed through a staggering 26 sets of traffic lights. Approximately two thirds of these were red, causing me to stop and wait. Yet at only 1 of those sets would the traffic using the opposing green lights have caused me to stop, at all others a simple slowing down to check would have been sufficient.  At many of them I sat, waiting and waiting for them to change green whilst not a single car crossed my path. Not only does this delay journeys unnecessarily, in a time when we are constantly reminded to save energy and reduce our carbon footprints, I was wasting fuel whilst needlessly sat stationary for a combined total of over 10 minutes of the short journey.

I hope Portsmouth's experiment proves successful and is tried out around the country, maybe even extended to all time's outside rush hour, not just late at night. After all every knows that whenever any lights are out due to electrical failure the traffic runs more smoothly when drivers are forced to use their own judgement.  Everyone except the controllers of course.

31 March 2011

Why ? #1

Why do some people answer the front door and say ...

"Sorry, I didn't hear the door bell"

So why do they answer the door then?

 #1 in a series of unanswerable questions, unless you know the answer of course.

30 March 2011

Load of old non-census

I finally got round to filling in my census form last night. It's been sat on the coffee table for about 3 weeks waiting to be filled in but that's about par for the course for me.

Unusually for me I chose the old fashioned paper and pen method as opposed to filling it online. I don't know why, it just seemed more important doing it that way.

It was pretty simple to complete. Straightforward questions asking a few personal details. Nothing controversial, the only one I thought waseven remotely snooping was asking the name and address of where you work. Nothing they (or at least the Inland Revenue anyway) wouldn't already know  about any honest citizen and I'm sure anybody with anything to hide wasn't going to give their secrets away by filling the details in on there.
The one thing that really struck me was reports that the helpline received over half a million calls requesting help. As I've already said, pretty simple questions, I just can not fathom how that many people could have a problem, or what it was they were confused over. I appreciate that a certain percentage of the adult population can not read, but then would also guess that they would be unable to read that the helpline was available so I'm discounting them. In true conspiracy theory style I am thinking that the census was indeed gathering more information about us that was let on, but not the information people are thinking. My theory is that the questions themselves are largely irrelevant, but a huge database has been collated on those thick enough to request help. When aliens land and require a certain percentage of our population for experiments then this is the list our government will turn to as those we can easiest afford to do without.

26 March 2011

Anything happens in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does

The above is a quote from the voice of Formula One, Murray Walker.  A man with infinitely more enthusiasm for the sport (a term use loosely) than I have, his quote to me seeming to be a total contradiction in how I viewed F1. For me the whole lack of appeal centred around the fact that nothing ever did happen. The driver in the fastest car would qualify in pole position and unless his car broke down he would then lead the rest of the field around the circuit for a couple of meaningless hours till the chequered flag would put me out of my misery.

Recent rule changes have made races slightly more competitive but still not enough to ignite a spark of interest in me. But now a rabbit has succeeded where Bernie Ecclestone and co. failed and got me, whilst maybe not planning my sleep schedule around races from the other side of the world, interested enough to now at least know the name of more than 3 current drivers .

The rabbit concerned is none other than the Grand Prix Bunny . I originally thought this was a training school for future lures at the greyhound track, it is in fact a website  designed and run  by a mate of mine which has put a degree of fun into F1. It is written with a humorous style and features pod-cast discussions with fans - not experts - talking in everyday language that non aficionados like myself can understand. In a sport dominated by billionaires, this website written by, and for, "normal" fans of the sport has got me interested enough to enter into  it's F1 Fantasy game. Hopefully this will give me a sustained interest throughout the summer. In the same way that a fantasy football team has got me interested in the welfare of Wigan's first team squad and the form of foreign imports I'd never previously heard of, words such as monocoque, KERS and shakedown are now entering my vocabulary. 

With the first race due to commence in less than 24 hours, by this time tomorrow I'll either find myself in a competitive season long attempt to try and beat the experts at their own game, or writing it off as a pointless exercise and looking for another summer sporting interest.  Now if only I could remember what my fantasy team selection was.

19 March 2011

The Comeback Tour

The previous incarnation of this blog -  Wurzel's World - like a car running on empty, stuttered, and hiccuped  a few times before finally succumbing (not before time, many would say) to a full and final stop.

Now, due to popular demand (when I say popular, someone made the mistake of asking what had happened to my blog), like an ageing rock star reliving past glories, it's being brought out of retirement, scrubbed up, and made ready for it's legion of fans* old and new. And just like those ageing rock stars it is, of course, nothing to do with the money.

Watch this space, there's more to come. No idea what yet but that's all part of the fun.

 *The use of the plural of the word fan was  due to an unrealistically optimistic mood whilst posting, probably brought on by too much coffee and a hint of blue sky and sunshine