Thursday, August 28, 2008

The following was written by a Bolton fan on the BBC website

Imagine for a second, you are a Northampton fan.

You are in two minds as to whether or not you should go to the game (Bolton v Northampton) because of the distance involved, and it being a Tuesday night match.

You notice that there's an hour long highlights programme on ITV, and decide, well... If we do well, we're guaranteed to get a lot of footage on there...

That makes up for it a little, and as such, you decide to stay home and listen on the radio, or watch SSN (or whatever).

You're astonished when the team are given a penalty, and its scored. Deep down you think, this can't last long...

But then, 2-0! Dreamland... But still, there's a nagging doubt at the back of your mind. You're maybe wishing you had gone to the game, but you tell yourself, oh well, I'll see all this later tonight on the highlights programme...

Then there's a red card, and suddenly, you really start to believe it could happen. With a few minutes left, 2-1, but surely its too late... But wait, drama... A disallowed goal...

For a second, you thought they'd thrown it away, but no!

At full time, you celebrate, and start clock watching until the highlights show begins...

You sit through about half an hour of Newcastle beating Coventry. Yes, it went to extra-time, but you can't help but think to yourself surely our game should have been given the first slot? Its not every day a Northampton fan can enjoy a result like this after all...

The minutes tick by, surely it will be on soon... Still nothing...

Seconds left now... the presenter says something along the lines of "by the way, Northampton beat Bolton tonight," and the show finishes.

You're outraged... How can they not show even a glimpse of the game?

Now, come back to being a Bolton fan.

Think back to the times when we were the giant killers...

I still have the extended highlights of our 3-1 victory at Highbury in the FA Cup, courtesy of MOTD...

Then there's the glory of our 2-0 win at Anfield when we were in the same league as Northampton are now.

Can you imagine, how you would feel, if those games had not been shown?

I feel sorry for the Northampton fans, who have been robbed of their moment in the sun...

This is me writing now -

I would like to know why a 60 minutes 'highlights' programme did not show a single second of probably the biggest cup shock of the night? Our match was the lead news item on the BBC's league cup web page. Our match was the lead football story on Sky Sports news and was the primary football report in most newspapers. ITV on the other hand did not show a single second of action. One-sided predictable wins were shown. But a team from League 1 beating a Premiership team 45 places above them in the league structure apparently didn't warrant inclusion. Why should I be surprised though? After all, the ITV network thought nothing of reneging on the ITV Digital deal and plunging many clubs like mine into the financial mire. (A lower league football fan never forgets these things.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let me just say

that I am rather pleased.

My son rather less so. He had made what in my expressed opinion was the crazy decision to drive up to Bolton last night with a mate. He rang me early evening to say they had got as far as Coventry and had decided that they might not make Bolton in time for kick off so were going to see the Coventry Newcastle match instead. Not only was he devastated at missing our famous victory - he was none too happy when I texted him about Coventry's injury time equaliser - seeing as how the two of them had just left the match a minute before.

He said he has had more successful evenings.

Thank god for that eh?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Late Summer's Weekend Tale

I am suffering from that well known 21st Century syndrome known as Blogger’s Block. I think many of us fall victim to this from time to time – except for your Ian Dale’s and co – but I think my problem recently has been that my mind has been preoccupied with weird, wonderful and terrible things at work, and whilst part of me would like to share those stories past experience has taught me that writing about work on a blog is Not A Good Idea. Someone tried to get me sacked once because of it.

I might have written about how stunning West Side Story was at Sadler’s Wells, but Reidski’s account does that task far better than I could ever manage. So I give you –A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Another era ago, me and a group of friends used to have a weekend in Stratford upon Avon once a year – see a play, row on the river (that’s row a boat on the river, not have a row on the river – although sometimes there would be a bit of both), and drink copious amounts of alcohol. A nostalgic trawl through old photographs of these events recently led to us deciding to bring back the Stratford weekend – and to introduce the second generation to the delights of Shakespeare. (Actually this was my second attempt to teach my lads the joys of Shakespeare – the first not being what you might call an unqualified success…see below for replay of that story.)

This weekend therefore found an unsuspecting Stratford upon Avon invaded by a group of 13 of us. Things started as they were meant to continue with a trip to the pub before the matinee performance we were booked to see. Two of us were on the white wine. We did a bottle between us before the play.

The play itself was a great success in that in had something for everyone; even my A Level English Lit student son who swears he can not understand a word of Shakespeare had enough visual funnies to keep him happy. Only one amongst us fell asleep which was a major improvement on my family’s last trip to a play at Stratford. Nine of us went to see a Christmas production of Great Expectations three years ago – I was the only one that time who did NOT fall asleep. My friend Fiona was snoring….loudly.

Getting back to Saturday we came out the theatre at about half 5 and naturally went back to the pub. Another bottle of white wine for me and M. We were both feeling the effects, when to our dismay another bottle of white wine appeared. We gamely ploughed our way through that too. 7.00 found us in a restaurant – alas – with another bottle of white wine. I am not too clear about how I managed to hold it together by this stage, but it was something to do with M getting weepy through her alcoholic intake that left me worried about and protective of her which I think must have somehow kept me reasonably alert.

The reasonably alert bit lasted until we all went back to check into our hotel. It must have only been about half 8. I remember lying down on the bed – and the next thing I knew it was quarter past one. There were slumbering young people around me and I had no idea if they had been there all the time, or if they had been in, gone out again, and come back, and I wasn’t entirely sure if in fact I might have been out somewhere with them. I found out the next morning that they had been in, gone out and come back – but that all their attempts to stir me had been in vain. I don’t think I have EVER slept as deeply as I must have done then. The good bit was that I was hangover free in the morning which was more than any of the others over the age of 17 could say.

We did row – and row – on the river later. The rowing bit comes from a disgraceful tendency to competitiveness which manifests itself amongst us where ever we are divided into two teams. We hired a boat for 6 and one for 7, and obviously it was very important to ‘win’ the officially non existent ‘race’. As some amongst us are never going to be the next Steven Redgrave the rowing action itself left a lot to be desired and some people as a result ended up very wet – and not a little pissed off. Happily the being pissed off only lasted for about three hours so it didn’t spoil anything.

All in all, a great return to our Stratford Weekends, and we would be very happy to go back again this season and see Hamlet – only it appears that Lisa and her friends have bought all the available tickets :-) I am not sure what the attraction for this particular production might be?????

Here’s the July 2005 Shakespeare story:

The National Theatre has a fantastic offer of seats for £10 each. Both my son's have read some Shakespeare at school, and they like '10 things I hate about you' which I thought was quite promising (sort of Shakespearean), and the clincher in grabbing their attention...Dumbledore is starring in Henry IV Part 1 (and that Michael Gambon is in it too, I'd heard he was 'not bad'). To cut to the chase, I got tickets for me, them and my mum.

You will have seen the 'hoodie' debate. To summarise; any teenage boy who wears a top with a hood up is clearly a hooligan and must therefore be banned from polite society, which apparently includes the good shoppers of Bluewater Shopping Centre. I have never been there but clearly it must be packed with refined persons who would never slap their kids in public, swear loudly at their partners or drop chewing gum any where. It must therefore be unlike any shopping centre I have ever visited. I digress.

Seating arrangements were from aisle inwards Mum (age 70), me, (age secret) D (age 15), J (age 13), Unknown Male (uknown age but approx 30), Unknown Male's Wife (also age unknown). Half way through the first half I notice J is sitting wearing his hood up, and has his face covered beneath the jackets zip. He resembles a hooligan. I am perturbed, but having already been told to 'hush' by the guy in front of me when I opened a sweet...DURING A BLOODY SCENE CHANGE...(I noted he was on his own, billy-no-mates, and I can't say I'm surprised) I didn't dare say anything to him. The hood stayed up. His face stayed hidden. And both boys laughed alot. Partly I was pleased as this could mean they were understanding the jokes, but mostly I was getting a bit stressy because most of the time they were giggling there were n't any jokes being made.

The interval. Unknown Male is out of his seat, and so is J to share with me and mum what D already knows very well. It turns out the Unknown Male has been farting through out the first half, sometimes audibly (and was HE told to 'hush'? He was not!), but ALWAYS very, very smelly, hence J burying his face in his jacket. And how subtle was J in conveying this news? As you may imagine, every one remaining in their seats during the interval knew, including I'm sorry to say, Unknown Male's Wife, who looked mortified, doubly so when he returned within minutes bearing ice creams. She suggested they went for a walk, and I imagine pointed him firmly in the direction of the gents. J refused to sit in the same seat for the second half. My poor mother had that pleasure, but either her sense of smell isn't what it was, or he had done what was required as there were no further reports of anti-social behaviour.

And of course, when any one asks J how he found his first Shakespeare play he tells them that he didn't have a clue what the play was about but.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

The boys done good

Good enough anyway.

Younger son passed all four on higher grades than his brother did this time last year, and older son got an A and a C at A Level and a B at AS Level and has got a place on the course he wanted for September next year (coming up to your neck of the woods Yorkshire Pudding.)

One of the reasons I was so genuinely worried was that my eldest’s GSCE’s were so decidedly average that he ended up taking two subjects at A Level which he should never have been doing – French and Maths. French was dropped within his first six weeks in the 6th Form, and Maths whilst lasting the entire year came to an inglorious end with an Unclassified at AS Level. To get the points tally he needed to get into university he really had to perform in his exams this time round and from where I was sitting it didn’t look like that was happening. The Parents Evening in March this year was just horrible with dire warnings from all his teachers. So I guess when my back was turned he MUST have worked since then – but I’m still not entirely sure precisely when.

My eldest told me afterwards that getting those results was the greatest moment of his life – and he had previously thought nothing would ever beat the feeling he got when he passed his driving test. Can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear him say that. Or what a relief those results really were.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


promises to be a day of contrasts.

In the afternoon Reidski and I are going to Sadler's Wells to see West Side Story (see this for far more articulate praise than I could ever manage on just what makes West Side story so wonderful.) The reviews have been nothing less than gushing and as it is probably my favourite film of all time to say I am looking forward to it is way past an understatement.

In the morning however..........

both my sons get their exam results.

Now it is not that I think either or both of them are incapable of passing exams. GSCE results in the past have indeed shown that they CAN pass exams - albeit it not with flying colours. I had hoped that given how averagely they did achieve at GSCE Level that they would be spurred on to work somewhat harder during their sixth form studies. This has proved to be a false hope.

I was a right little swot at school. For my A Levels I got what my careers teacher told me were "the best results in the school by far." (False modesty apart they WERE the best results in the school by far - but the competition wasn't exactly red hot.) Anyway, what I am trying to say here is that I got my results by working - by working hard - and call me old fashioned but I still tend to think that in order to pass exams you really do need to actually revise for the things. There was no visible sign whatsoever that either of my boys were revising for their exams last June. Even with my most optimistic head on I cannot realistically hope for anything more than them having 'just about done enough' when the results arrive tomorrow.

So to say I am not exactly looking forward to hearing their results is also way past an understatement. And it can be guaranteed that when the media is banging on tomorrow about how A Level results are up again that my cats will be staying well out of kicking range.

(As I was writing this my friend Anne sent me a text asking me to wish them both luck for tomorrow. If only that was all that was needed!)

(Arrghh! You won't believe this and I hardly expect you to but I just got another text before I could press 'publish' from my friend Fiona saying the exact same thing. Do all my friends have psychic powers or are they just trying to cause me additional stress?)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From 'Not the End of the World' by Christopher Brookmyre

Story is set in 1999....

The boat moved off with a loud horn-blast and then the excruciatingly over-familiar opening chords of Prince's '1999'. Steff hadn't heard a song played so fucking much since every restaurant, supermarket, joinery, plumbing firm, tyre-fitter's, DIY store and travel agent boasted to the world that they were 'Simply The Best'. The Huns used it to, over the PA when the team took the field, further proof if it could ever be needed that individuality and original thought were largely incompatible with supporting Glasgow Rangers Football Club.

I would have found it even funnier had not the Cobblers also resorted to 'that song' on occasion - though I always kind of hoped we were only using it give the opposition a good laugh.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Here we go, here we go, here we go

First day of the football season was upon us once again. No sense of expectations for today as we have failed to win our opening home match of the season for the past 13 years. But records like that are of course there to be broken and tonight I am a Happy Cobbler as we won 4-2 today against The Mighty Cheltenham. Don't believe they are that Mighty huh? Well let me tell you that to the best of my knowledge Cheltenham Town have, at various points in their history, spent literally hundreds of pounds on players good enough to wear their shirt. ;-)

And if only the table looked like this come the last day of the season we wouldn't complain too much.

(Millwall lost 4-3 having been 3-1 up with 79 minutes left to play.)

Friday, August 08, 2008

What's been going on?

It's Friday and the past week or so has gone past in a flash.

I have been neglectful of blogging Quick Catch Up time.

TNR and Mrs TNR were down in London staying at Reidksi's place last week and it was great to catch up with them.

Before meeting up with them I put my daughter on the train to deepest Devon where she was going to be staying with friends for a few days. I was so paranoid about this Journey Alone..though she was totally unfazed. I ensured she was sat near women and families - ie no weird men - although I found out later that a very weird old woman got on and harassed her for her forward facing sear later, and a 15 year old boy 'helped her with her case', so so much for my planning.

TNR and Mrs TNR are great cooks - see the link above to TNR's food blog called 'Chicken omelette, nae peas' which if I remember correctly is what a friend is his and Reidski's always ordered at their local Chinese. Saturday night they cooked a group of us some wonderful Spanish food.I am still drooling as I remember it now.

I was back in London again on Monday night which was their last evening in London and yet more wonderful food was had, this time at Wahaca which is a truly brilliant - and cheap - Mexican place in Covent Garden owned, as I learnt then, by a former winner of BBC's Masterchef Thomasina Miers. (The chillies she uses come from Devon. I took this as evidence my daughter would be basking in exotic sunshine during her stay at the Devon coast- yeah right.)

Plans for getting my daughter back from Devon had been carefully laid and involved her being picked up yesterday. Enough to say that those carefully laid plans spectacularly collapsed in the past few days and led to me having to take a 400 mile drive yesterday to fetch her home. I took my 16 year old son with me for company and map reading...although the second of his allotted tasks was scrubbed when he told me as we passed Oxford that he couldn't read maps. I was outraged. "What the bloody hell do they teach you in geography if not how to read maps? I asked. "Coastal erosion" was the answer. I didn't get much conversation either although I did get to listen to a lot of The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles. There is a link there somewhere I think ;-) It would have been OK but I got the lyrics 'Bang, bang, you're dead' stuck on relentless replay in my head which was a bit disconcerting.

We stopped for lunch in a little Somerset town called Ilminster where as J pointed out, he was the youngest person in the entire place - and I was second youngest. Lovely meal at a pub called The George - The Good Pub Guide coming up trumps again.

We got an hour on the beach before setting off back again. We drove past Stonehenge and I made a comment about how amazing it was to see those ancient stones there. Sometime later my daughter said "You know how you said those stones were so old?" "Yes?" said I. "Well, I thought all stones were old," she said which at least told me that they do learn something in geography at their school, but did make me wonder what they teach them about this country's heritage.

So that is about the week that was, or at least it is as I am going to spare you the gory details of a story concerning my 11 year old niece, her tonsil, a one and a half inch long salmon bone and three hours in casualty. (She is fine now thank you.)

Off now to see one of my nuttier clients which, believe me, makes this one very nutty indeed. Groan.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Big Read Survey

I saw this at Darren's place and thought I would have a go. It is a survey* that originated because “The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed."

So you have to see how many you have read in order to identify those amongst us who conform to their version of the average adult. But what a strange list it is. I suppose though that is what you get when you allow us plebs to vote on books. At least Lord of the Rings has been knocked off the top spot on the most recent poll of BBC viewers by a book worthy of the title Number One Best Book of All Time. (Although I know at least one person who may see this hates Jane Austen.)

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you love.
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.
5) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve only read 6 and force books upon them
I would add that 'read' means read, not flicked through or given up half way to the end. It's cover to cover or nothing.

Editor's note.I don't know how to underline so the one's I love are in capital letters. Suggest anyone else trying this copies and pastes from Darren.

Here goes:


2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien.
3 JANE EYRE - Charlotte Bronte
6 The Bible (Grade A R.E. O Level I will have you know!
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
19 THE TIME TRAVELLER'S WIFE - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 EMMA - Jane Austen
35 PERSUASION - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (to my shame - what a load of crap!)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 ATONEMENT - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A TALE OF TWO CITIES - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce (Who the fuck voted for this??? Life is too short!)
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome (probably did when at school but have no memory of it.)
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 HAMLET - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So I have read, if I have counted correctly 52 of them, though I take no pleasure in admitting to The Da Vinci Code. And I haven't actually read all the Bible, though was red hot on the Synoptic Gospels in my day.

I think they should add another category of how many have you have never even heard of let alone read? Five in my case ....Number's 56, 78, 86, 88 and 92.

Darren didn't pass it on exactly but left it as an open invitation so I will happily follow his example except for naming Reidski because the genius that is TNR has only gone and fixed Reidski's computer so he can get back to blogging at last. But for what it's worth - I enjoyed doing it.

* Note use of word 'Survey' rather than 'meme'. Still not over what that arse who commented on the Fatalist's blog said about me when he did a 'meme' I sent him.