Monthly Archives: August 2007

Lay off my blue suede shoes..

My astroturf trainers have been noticeably degrading for the last few weeks, they’re still mostly ‘structurally’ sound, but they’ve become far from nasally sound after getting a good drenching the other week. I was gutted, because I’ve really really rated them compared to previous trainers I’ve used. They were Adidas Absolado (or something like that), and of course, in the year or so since I acquired them, they’re no longer ‘current’ so you can’t get ’em.

I had wanted to replace them with like for like, but checking out numerous online places it doesn’t seem that anywhere sells them new any more, so I assume they’ve been discontinued. Dammit! However, I had a stroke of luck in JJB Sports earlier, although this silver lining certainly had it’s cloud. My old boots were as pictured, mostly black with a bit of red and white, the ones I now own are a rather poncey looking blue pair.

I’ve always ended up paying extra in the past to aviod the wonderous array of brightly coloured trainers you can get these days for football. I just like a nice pair of black ones, understated, that say “Hey, I’m not that good at this, just an average player plodding around for a laugh.” In the past I had a need-trainers-in-a-hurry-and-the-only-shop-I-have-time-to-visit-only-has-one-pair -in-my-size dilemma that saw me walk away with gold trainers. Big mistake.

You see, gold trainers say “I’m good, in fact, I’m better than you”, and even after a few touches, when it is patently obvious this isn’t true, you still find yourself being kicked all over the place. This was back when I was playing competitively rather than my more relaxed serial-friendly-games arrangement now, so the necessity to understate (or perhaps accurately state) my less-than-graceful footballing abilities is less acute.

Nonetheless I do look out for less flashy designs for preference, so it rankles that now I possess a pair of metallic-ish looking blue football trainers, which I bought because they’re basically identical to my old ones in all but colour, and because they were in a sale making them a bargain. The fact they were in the bargain bin also suggests they are indeed discontinued, alas, because they are ace – or at least I hope they are, otherwise I’ll be doubly gutted!!

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We could be Heroes..

 

I just finished watching the first season of Heroes today, I won’t post any spoilers as it’s yet to finish on our TV, but whilst thoroughly enjoying the build up I was quite disappointed by the ending.  It was a bit predictable, compared to some of the twists throughout the story.

It’s inevitable I suppose that the ending rather explicitly leaves a further season open – which airs in America next month, but well, I dunno – I guess I just like a bit of closure!

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Are there really three wise monkeys?

Anyone who knows me reasonably well will know I’m fairly obsessed with monkey-related things. So perhaps it’s not that surprising that one of my favourite maxims is the idea of the ‘three wise monkeys’ that represent the proverb: ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’ I was thinking about this the other day, so did a bit of research, which was quite interesting.

Firstly, there can be a fourth wise monkey, representing ‘do no evil‘, which I shall ignore for now. The thing that amused me was that the original Japanese teaching that lead to this (probably passed down from Confucius-derived Chinese philosophy) is mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru, meaning literally don’t see, don’t hear, don’t speak. The zaru part of each word denotes the ‘don’t’ part – and sounds a lot like saru – which means monkey. So the monkeys are part of a bit of clever wordplay!

But anyway, whilst the origins of the proverb/maxim is very interesting, I was thinking about whether or not the three more commonly referenced monkeys were – in reality – all that wise. Given the way the world is today, full of malcontents be it on the streets or virtually trying to take advantage of people, I’m not sure of the wisdom of being unable to see or hear evil.

I do like the idea of speaking no evil though – and certainly the little-known fourth monkey who is compelled to do no evil is probably, whilst incredibly naive, the wisest of all. If you think about it a little more perhaps the idea is that if we were all in an environment where we saw, heard or spoke no evil then perhaps the fourth monkey becomes the reality, and we live in a happy utopia free of cynicism and general malaise that seems to typify the modern world.

I also wondered whether the evil monkey from Family Guy is perhaps some kind of reference to the wise monkeys, as obviously he is some kind of embodiment of evil who is typically visible only to Peter and Lois’s son, Chris. He clearly abandoned the path of wisdom, some sort of anti-monkey. I quite like that idea too! You see, no matter what else, monkeys are just inherently genius!

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It’s just all about football these days!

Thursday’s a football days for me, playing that is – I had the morning off work (fortunately!) as I knew we’d be back late from heading to Wembley, and hadn’t realised quite how late, so the lie in was particularly welcome!  The afternoon was spent sorting out a presentation for the following day, where Neil and I would be out the office at a conference – hence needing to be in in the afternoon.

Being the season of holidays etc meant that there were only 8 of us for what is usually a 5 or 6 aside game of football, as such we devised a new game (well, in truth it was devised last week when I wasn’t there), where contrary to ordinary five-a-side where you have to score from outside the area, and nobody is allowed in there, in this game everyone can go in the area, and you can only score from inside.

It works really well when you’re short on numbers – but my God it’s one hell of a workout compared to normal, with lots of running to either end, and a much higher need to play accurate passes etc.  It was hard work, but quite rewarding, I think our side ended up losing by 1 or 2 goals, but to say we were about 6 down after the first 5 minutes, we did well to drag ourselves back into it!

But if that was hard work, it was nowt compared to the game I played on Friday at Meadow Lane.  I’d been at a conference/workshop all day, as I mentioned, and had a fairly stodgy lunch and a pint, and I’d gone home after and had a snooze too – which isn’t typical preparation for playing football!  The temperature outside was warm, which seems to be magnified in the indoor pitch at Notts County’s ground – so it was hard work!  I think we lost in the end, but we had a man less, and I did manage to score a bit of a pearler, if I do say so myself.

Saturday was all about watching football, of course.  Having picked up Ken we headed down to the City Ground to watch the not-so mighty Reds take on Leeds United.  The first half was poor from both sides really, Leeds breaking and scoring a well taken goal to give them the lead.  Forest did better in the second half, but couldn’t seem to convert their chances – although Commons scored a fluke of a freekick.

Alas, Leeds were to sneak a winner right at the end, somewhat fortuitously, but again very well taken.  Dammit.  Now we have a Carling Cup match against almost-rivals Leicester City to look forward to on Tuesday, since the Foxes are bringing 5,300 odd fans to the game (why?!), and I can’t see Forest attracting many more for what is a fairly mundane fixture, it could be quite interesting to see.  Leicester haven’t beaten us at the City Ground since 1972, and only a fool would suggest this isn’t a good opportunity for them to do so, which might at least quell their unrequieted hatred a little if nothing else, and allow us to concentrate on the league.

Today I’ve had a stinking headache most of the day, but did pick a couple of apples from the tree in the garden and it turns out they’re very tasty – which is a bonus!  So this year we must make a point of harvesting them and not allowing them to just fall on the floor as they have in past years!

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The joys of Skeg…

Our familial holidays were often on the East Coast of England in Lincolnshire, although I think we tended for Ingoldmells or Mablethorpe (aka Mabbo or Sunny Mabbo) for our excursions, but the article Al Needham dredged up on his Left Lion blog site made me almost literally piss myself remembering! I’m sure he won’t mind me reproducing here…

Twelve Things That Were Skill About Skeggy

1. Your Mam buying you clothes months in advance

…that you can’t wear until you go on holiday, in order to convince other people that you’re not fleabags. How twisted was that? I remember when I was six, and I had to spend three whole months staring at an absolutely mint Kung Fu vest and pants set in the drawer that I was not allowed to wear. It was agonising. Naturally, as soon as you get to Skeg, every youth from Notts is wearing the same clothes, making it look like there’s only one shop in the whole of town.

Honestly, you tell people in the South about things like this and they’re convinced you’re taking the piss.

2. The journey there

…which was a yearly novelty in itself. Remember, in those days Dads never drove you to school, and Mams weren’t allowed to drive. Ever. Sadly, there were no Playstations and tellies attached to the seats, your Dad won’t let you open the window, he hasn’t got one of them things that hang off the back bumper to stop car sickness, you’re wedged up between a suitcase and your sister on the back seat, Dad’s put on his Elvis tape and you’re sitting there knowing he’s going to start roaring when Old Shep comes on (because he always does), and you’re starting to get that familiar catch down the back of your throat that means in about three minutes, you’re going to be puking your ring into a Co-Op bag while your Dad mutters “Fucking kids…you can stay at your bastard Nana’s next year”.

On the upside, there is nothing more cosmopolitan than hearing Radio Trent fade out and Radio Lincolnshire fade in. That’s when you know you’re on your holiday.

3. The caravan

This is how fucked up Nottingham Mams and Dads are; they spend the whole year moaning about ‘gyppos’ diddling them at Goose Fair and parking up on nearby wasteground, and how do they spend their time off work? Exactly – by living like them. I bet proper Romanies don’t decorate their caravans with mank won off the prize bingo, though. And I’m pretty convinced they have better sanitary facilities than a piss-bucket shared by three generations in the middle of the night, an’all.
Still, when you’re a kid, caravans are ace, and miles better than B&Bs, which only posh people from West Bridgford ever stayed in. You wonder why houses don’t have fold-up beds too. And it’s always so dignified, how the people who have just moved out have left enough tea bags in the pot for a proper mash.

4. Childrens rooms in pubs

This must be the best thing about Skeggy by far. Normally, going to the pub with your family meant sitting in the car for two hours with the occasional bag of crisps and a Coke with a straw in it, playing Mastermind with your sister, and seeing if there were any wank mags in your Dad’s toolbox. Not in Skeg, though – you had a whole room to yourself, which usually contained a bust Air Hockey table, some kind of animal ride with an ‘Out Of Order’ sign on it, and a Space Invader cabinet with some other game in it. That was broke.

Still, it was an invaluable introduction to pub etiquette, as you sat on your Dad’s knee while he said “Quick, while landlord’s not looking’ and tipped half a pint of Shippos down the front of your best shirt. Obviously, the spirit of the Children’s Room lives on in all inner-city Nottingham pubs, especially the ones in Bulwell.

5. Meeting people from Sheffield

This was a rather special thrill on its own. Skegness wasn’t only occupied by Nottinghamians during the summer (even though you were bound to see at least two kids from your school while you were there); Mansfield, Derby and Leicester also represented, but it seemed like every steel mill in Sheffield had decamped to the coast. You couldn’t understand a word they were saying, they all had basin cuts, they were built like brick shithouses, and they always wanted to give you bone-crushing handshakes. Even the women. Especially the women.

6. The beach

The innocent time when you were proud to say you got crabs while you were on holiday. Finding the spot where you buried 10p last year, only to find there’s a JCB digger there. Sitting on a manky donkey for a bit. Going in the sea. Once. Never doing it again. Your dog going mental and drinking gallons of seawater, only for him to piss it out his arse while you’re trying to chat some girl up.

7. Eating fish and chips twice a day for a week

I’m sorry, but I’ve been to Blackpool and the chips there were rubbish. Skegness has the best chippies in the world, and I’ll fight anyone who dares say otherwise*. That street in Skeg known as Chip Shop Alley – I could just stand there all day and inhale its delightfully pungent aromas. If you don’t put on at least two stone while you’re there, you’ve had a shit holiday.

*unless they come from Whitby

8. Amusement arcades

Once upon a time, before even the Atari 2600 came out and Nottingham didn’t have dens of iniquity where hard lads from The Meadows nicked your 10p that was on the glass – the kind of place where Zammo first got into scag, you’ll remember – Skeggy was the only place to get your low-tech interactive jollies. The absolute highlight of the week for me was legging it into an arcade and seeing what I was going to spunk the contents of my piggy bank on that year. I bet I still have my name on a Sheriff Nintendo cabinet in the storeroom of a chip shop near the prom. Your Mam would always moan about how you should be getting some fresh air, but seeing as she lived in the Prize Bingo next door ramming in 10p after 10p, she was talking out her arse.

9. Going to Butlins for the day

We went to Skeggy Butlins one year. It was bob. The only thing about it I can remember is being able to stick my hand through the hole in the wall under my bad and shake hands with the lad next door. Much better to go in for the day, have a go on everything (which you could do in a day, in any case), and piss off out again.

10. The Cockle Man

The bloke in the white coat who used to go round the pubs and clubs at night with a big basket of things in Mr Kipling trays, who used to get your grandparents all excited while they were watching someone who came in 4th during an episode of New Faces murdering the oeuvre of Neil Diamond. You look at these things now and think, fucking hell – 20 Chinese lads died for something that looks like a tumour and you have to put loads of vinegar on so you can eat ‘em without retching. Obviously, big respect to the Fish Man of Mansfield Road, who keeps the flame alive in a piscine style and fashion.

11. Finding some suitable tat for your Nana

Now it’s getting near the end of the week, you’ve got to make sure your Nana gets some return on the investment she rammed into your cakey little hand, or she’ll have a face like a smacked arse until Christmas. And what bounty there was! Hunks of rock artfully moulded to look like a full English breakfast! Coasters with photos of people in ‘Frankie Say’ T-Shirts playing crazy golf! Something with the Big Gay Fisherman on it! A tea tray of the clock, which was a bit like the one in Blackpool, but not quite! Postcards that gave you an erection even though you didn’t quite know why!

Sadly, the numerous tack shops in Skeg have moved with the times and the grandparent market has been completely marginalised. Last time I went, one could purchase a set of Rasta garden gnomes sucking on enormous spliffs, an indoor skull fountain, a garden ornament of two fists adorned with sovereign rings, giving the finger, and a dildo on sale for a quid. If I had bought any of those items, I would have been cut out of her will.

12. Going home

A bit like getting there, only with more vomiting.

A nice nostalgia trip for all you Nottinghamians reading!

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Wem-ber-leee! Wem-ber-leee! And we’re all pissed up but we’re gonna win the cup!

I went on a road trip with Rich and Uncle Ken to Wembley to watch the ultimately disappointing display by England against Germany in a friendly match.  I won’t go into a detailed match analysis – but we looked good for the first 20 mins, and why McClaren – in his infinite wisdom – moved Micah Richards from the right, left Beckham on, took Cole off etc etc etc I’ll never know.

The new stadium is stunning.  We were in the “cheap seats” – right at the back in the corner, and the view is still tremendous, and put a bunch of like-minded club fans in there for a final, and I imagine the atmosphere would be exceptional due to the acoustics of the arena.  Sadly, not being a particular nationalist, I’m not a huge fan of going to England matches really.

It’s a magnet for tubthumping nationalists – people who boo the opponent’s national anthem, people who shout “You killed my granddad!” at the German fans, people who – despite their self-confessed ‘bulldog spirit’ – don’t actually know the words to our own national anthem or jingoistic songs like ‘Rule Britannia’.  People who put superfluous Y’s in ‘David’, and seemingly know f**k all about football.

“That was clarrrrssss Daaayyyyy-vid!” as another Beckham cross fails to beat the first man.  *sigh*  I don’t know if I’m becoming a bit of a snob, but there’s a fairly hefty moron-quotient amongst the average fanbase – certainly I’d say so at my own club – but go to an international game, particularly one against a side like Germany, and you can multiply that by ten.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of irrational banter – football thrives on it.  I found the pathetically PC gestures like swapping signed shirts to “signify fan friendship” utterly mindboggling.  The other concerning thing about new Wembley is it is an arena and an event designed with this new sanitised version of football built into the very fabric of it.

And yet the folks running the show, who desperately pleaded over the tannoy numerous times, didn’t seem to realise that playing almost exclusively ‘English’ music, putting on songs like Three Lions and Vindaloo, showing video montages of great England wins, constant references to 1966, really only encourages that kind of behaviour from the limited-braincell fraternity amongst the support.

The German fans, by contrast, did show a bit of class on the banter stakes – they chanted “You only sing when you’re winning” at us, in English, and also sang “Football’s coming home” too – whilst there’s the obvious advantage that English is widely spoken in nearly every country, can you imagine our fans having the wit to replicate in another country?  No chance.

So yeah, fantastic stadium but some disappointments for me – I won’t be in a hurry to attend further England fixtures.  Wembley also remains a fantastic bottle-neck to get out of.  It took an hour for us to inch our way along Wembley way back to the tube station, by the time we reached the car in Watford it had been two hours since full time, then the genius who decided to close all but one lane on the M1 saw to it that it took us about two hours to travel about 5 miles.

The total journey home from full time to arrival?  6 hours.  That rather takes the piss!  I’m pleased I’ve visited the new stadium – but it really makes me hope all the more for automatic promotion for Forest – ’cause I don’t fancy a play off visit there! (Not that our record in playoff semi-finals makes that very likely anyway!).

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Wanters not needers, hypocrites and cheaters, this is the news of the world…

Apparently this little gem featured on the front page of the Nottingham Evening Post today, not just made it into print, it made it on to the FRONT PAGE!! (according to an email from my esteemed sibling Rich, you see, I don’t waste my time by reading the generally rather rubbish local rag!):

ROOTING OUT WHO THREW VEGETABLES

11:00 – 20 August 2007

A Pensioner from West Bridgford has become the victim of an unusual type of anti-social behaviour.

Nancy Parker, 72, woke up to find potatoes and onions had been thrown at her home and were left strewn across her garden. Police are now investigating.

In one way, it makes me lament the poor standard of news gathering that goes on in these parts – but on the flipside, given how much bad press my dear home time gets for our undeserved reputation as gun crime central, it is amusing to think that the worst thing to happen in a day was some local hoodlums hurling veg at some old dear’s house.

Of course, I hope the lady in question has not had any serious mental setbacks from such an event.

What a spectacular use of police resources, too – surely they could get some of those special constable types, the ones who solve about one crime a decade each, to put some serious CSI style investigating into the great vegetable mystery? (Of course, that would involve taking a few off ‘the great cheese slice throwing mystery’ which happened at the City Ground back in 2004/2005, that has been consuming their resources*)

* Rich at least will know what I’m babbling about!

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Headlights, white lines, black tar rivers..

I’ve had a drive-tastic week or so really.  Last week of course Cat and I headed up to sometimes-sunny Yorkshire for our falconry experience, as well as a bit of touring featuring a gorge, a falconry centre (as if we’d not seen enough!) and a big long cave, and of course driving home again.

Upon arrival at home it transpired Phoebe had lost a suspicious number of long wing feathers – meaning she can’t fly.  We initially suspected Frankie had attacked her – so headed straight to the emergency vet, who wasn’t an avian specialist, so she just gave us some painkillers and antibiotics, by the time we got her to the vet today (more extra driving!), it transpired she’d had a particularly heavy molt, exacerbated by a bit of over-zealous preening.

Still, we’ve got her settled in a separate cage now -she has a couple of blood feathers coming through that are less protected than they’d otherwise be, so we need to watch out for that – and just keep an eye on her to make sure she’s alright getting around the room without the power of flying!

And that leads me on to this week – on wednesday Rich and I are taking Uncle Ken down to Wembley to watch England play Germany in a friendly.  To be honest, watching Steve McClaren’s hapless reign as England manager isn’t massively motivating for me, but I’ll be excited to see the new stadium, and given the less-than-likely chance of me getting to see Forest there, as I did at the old Wembley, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers!

Oh aye, and Tom showed me the genius video clip below – featuring some lions attempting to catch a young buffalo type thing, you’ve probably seen it already as it’s had about 14million hits on YouTube as I type, but it has a couple of twists in the tale – it’s called ‘Battle at Kruger’ – enjoy!

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Hawking around..

Falconry is ace.  After being rained off in June, Cat and I successfully had our falconry experience on the Coniston Hotel estate in Yorkshire, and it was worth waiting for!  I’m seriously tempted to get qualified – although no such qualification exists just yet, but it will do soon, as Defra are quite keen to try to ensure that the pasttime is properly legislated, which should be a good thing for the wellbeing of birds being kept by humans.

With the guidance of Matt, our falconer, Cat and I successfully flew a couple of owls, a couple of Harris Hawks, a red-tailed buzzard and an eagle I forget the type of – it was great to be out and about with such noble beasts.  The following day we saw a gorge, some more falconry set amongst some very impressive grounds, and a huge cave – which was all very different!

Photos of the falconry are here.

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Rant of the day… baby product adverts..

Not being a parent, I can’t be sure – but having witnessed numerous people enter the scary world of parenthood recently, I’m reasonably confident that bringing a new life in the world does not turn people into some kind of gibbering idiot.

Certainly baby talk and more ‘goo goo gah gah’ing probably enters their vocabulary, but when conversing with adults, and seeking advice from more experienced parents, I haven’t really detected any major difference in their levels of intelligence or communication style.

So why do adverts for nappies or baby lotion or the other assorted accoutrements required for an infant involve some kind of saccharine-toned patronising voice speaking to their prospective customers as though they have just undergone a full frontal lobotomy?  I have no idea why this riles me so, but I really do find it quite infuriating!

Phew! That felt better… I might have a rant a little more often!

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