Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Dark Out There

Very, very dark in fact and it's only 18.44. Winter, is that you?

Great win last night - I listened to it on the wonderful Five Live, and most enjoyable it was too, though I was a a tad worried at times that John Motson was about to implode under the weight of his own implausible controversies. Alan Green is cool though. The stuff football's made of.

On the subject of what football's made of it no longer lists Marlon King as an ingredient. The journeyman player/full-time ****wit has been locked up for 18 months for breaking a diminutive female student's nose when she objected to him groping her. At his age and with Newcastle now almost behaving like a normal club it's difficult to see him getting back to top-flight employment - Wigan having done the decent thing and sacked him - when he gets out in about 3 weeks, so at least there'll be some sort of justice.

Friday tomorrow. I understand this to be a good thing, and will attempt to behave appropriately.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heroes, Lies And The BBC

David Shepherd, cricketer of these parts, umpire of 92 tests and bonne-oeuf-toute-circullaire, as young Pete would say, has died, aged only 68. He'd been battling cancer for some time. He will be missed - I suspect, though, that his Nelson-hopping routine will soon become a regular supporter dance routine at grounds up and down the country.

Elsewhere the BBC are trying to make Andre Agassi's confession that he lied about how he came to fail a drugs test way back in his dark days when he'd fallen down to around 140 in the world into a "star admits taking stimulants" story. No chaps, it's not. It would seem he took crank/tina/meth once and explained the test failure away as saying he'd drunk a doctored drink. Does anyone at the beeb know what this drug does? Do they seriously think he could actually *compete* regularly under its influence? Get a ****ing grip on reality and give credit where credit's due for the man's honesty.

Carling Cup tonight and we're at home to the Scallies. Bring it on, I love this competition, I really do!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Roll On The Big One

Golly that was a long week! Still, here we are at Saturday and a welcome day of rest. Anything I do today will involve trips to the fridge, methinks. Tomorrow it's bike polishing and then off down to the Queen's Head for The Big One.

Normally Reds vs Reds derbies leave me a tad cold, but this is a MASSIVE game and no mistake - the beauty of it, too, from a Gooner point of view is that any result is a good one for us, so we can just sit and enjoy it for what it is. And enjoy it I'm certainly hoping to do. We do need to get a result at the Boleyn Ground later on, but I'm quitely optimistic we'll do that, however much of a bogey team/PITA the Hammers have proven to be in the past.

Right, off to the fridge. Laters, dudes.

Update: Smile, friends, the SFTL have just lost at home to Stoke :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's Good To Talk

If people spent a fraction of the time engaged in dialogue that they do trying to avoid it the world would be a far better place. This strikes me as a pretty universal, if perhaps a tad obvious, truth. Whatever. Onwards.

Last night's result isn't going to set the world alight but it'll do just nicely, thanks. What on Earth is going to be made of the current plight of the Scallies is another matter altogether. Plenty of moaning on the fora today - I think they're quite possibly right that Rafa's more likely on his way than not, but I'm less convinced of an immediate descent into the Old Bob's Sunday Specials League just now. West Ham strike me as more likely to be going there next, IMHO. Sunday's game will be a big one, though, and no mistake.

And so to bed. Or at least the kettle.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quite Tiring, This Working Mallarky...

Another day at work and I have to say I'm rather tired. Pleasantly so, though: working at least leaves you thinking it's an appropriate feeling. Long may it continue. The work that is, not the tiredness of course.

It's dark and wet here in Bristol now - 18.00 and it's beyond dusk, Winter's well and truly on its way. I love this time of year, I have to say.

AZ Alkmaar away tonight in the CL. I know absolutely nothing about AZ beyond the fact that they're Dutch and bottom of the Dutch league atm. The former should always provide a bit of concern and the latter is pretty meaningless given they've only played two games. We've got a fair record against Dutch opposition, though, and if I were to jump off the fence and offer a prediction I'd go for an away win for us. It's live on SS3, so I won't be watching it, though it is also on Five Live so I may get to hear a bit until the Boss notices.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hoggin' The Bridge 2009

Sunday saw the 10th annual "Hoggin' The Bridge", a charity event organised by the Bridgewater HOG chapter. It's basically a rideout from the Aust Services in England over to Chepstow in Wales. It says it's 5 miles to Chepstow when you're on the English side. This is a tad deceptive in terms of how you'll be spending your time on HTB day...

First wake the neighbours...

We met up at sparrowfart with bacon rolls and tea, hoping to get to Aust before the place got too chaotic. It's a 10 minute journey from here, so our seven bikes and eleven people set off just before 10.00 for the advertised 11.00 start. It was indeed about a 10 minute journey to the roundabout at Aust Services. From that point on time went a tad random.

The roundabout was interesting. Several hundred bikes at each entrance, one car in the middle of it all. Not much fun for the car, and not too much fun for the bikers either - this is nowhere near as disciplined and well-marshalled an event as the RTTW, there's an element of "everyone for himself" that doesn't sit well with being in charge of an unstable (you're moving at walking pace) vehicle when you're surrounded by other similar vehicles all within inches of each other. Top Tip: make sure your clutch is properly adjusted before trying this particular game.


We eventually got into the Services, but got split into a couple of groups. No matter, we managed to find each other, have a few cups of tea (and yet more bacon for Andy) and then re-form as a group once the ultra-keen had moved off. We still crawled out of the place though, now in a none-too-clever three/four abreast convoy to head off over the bridge.

Aust Services: possibly not a good day to pop in to to wash the Porsche...

Time for a break

It didn't take forever to get over the bridge, but after that everything just slowed to a crawl. We weren't the only people (as you can see) taking a "revive my wrists" rest on the way. On reflection a number of us would probably have stopped more often had it not been for the riduculously short distance we were supposed to have been travelling.

Chepstow: actually quite scenic

And then we were in Chepstow. We sought out tea (even Andy was briefly off his bacon) and cooling breezes. A fair few people had gone out first thing thinking "hmmm, it's cold" and put on tights/leg warmers etc. To say they were regretting this by the time they got to Chepstow is an understatement of no small proportion.

Chepstow itself is really rather pretty. The town takes full advantage of the event, as well they should: even the senior citizens club had geared up with quadzillions of extra sandwiches to sell.

It's true, Andy can't resist the lure of bacon

Chepstow: also absurdly hilly

All in all it was a great day out, but I think if I do it again I'll just cross the bridge and head straight back. The ride into Chepstow was just too slow and too badly organised: an experience yes, a pleasure no. I might go back over to take another look at Chepstow, though. Looks like a nice place and there are plenty of pubs...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Somewhat Different Week

Interview on Wednesday, started work on Thursday. Brilliant. OK, so it's temp work and likely to be short-term but it's got me back in the game and it's released the Evil Empire's grip on my ankle. It's great to be back, I have to say.

Tomorrow is Hogging The Bridge day. I hope this turns out to be as much fun as it promises to be, good weather would be almost as good a start as the enormous number of bacon rolls the Boss is now geared up to make. There should be a few of us leaving from here - thankfully the neighbours all appear to like bikes - and I'm hoping we can meet up with the Invicta HOG lot for some tea and a greasy-thing-in-a-roll over in Chepstow. Pictures will, I hope, follow in due course...

Proper football is back today. It's half-time for the normal time kick-offs and we're 2-1 up against Birmingham. We *should* win this and, to be honest, we *have* to win this. Elsewhere, Chelsea have already lost to Villa and the Manchester Red Devils are predictably stuffing Bolton. Liverpool are managing to lose, being a goal down after the ball deflected off a balloon. Liverpool players are up in arms: read the laws, chaps.

More in a while, perhaps. And so to the fridge...

Update: Well we won, 3-1 in the end; United won, too, as did the SFTL. However, both Chelski and the Scallies managed to lose. Interesting.

The top five positions are now occupied thusly:

Man Utd 22
Chelsea 21
Tottenham 19
Arsenal 18
Man City 16

However, whilst the top three have all played 9, we've played 8 and Citeh 7. Early doors and all that. The blue half of Manchester play Wigan tomorrow, so I anticipate we'll be fifth come Monday morning. *But* we'll be only four points behind the leaders with a game in hand. Good enough for me for mid-October, I have to say.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chaos. Not Just A Theory.

Plenty of rushing about today, not a lot of achievement. Interview yesterday, interview tomorrow. Phone calls, emails. Busy busy busy.

More tea is needed. Back later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ride To The Wall 2009

The Ride To The Wall is an annual ride out to the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield. The joint aims of the day are, firstly, to remember those who have died in service since WW2 and, secondly, to raise money for the Arboretum. The inaugural event last year raised over £10,000 and was deemed a huge success, as indeed it was. Obviously the organizers had hoped for a bigger do this year but even so I would imagine that they were both elated and amazed to have over 5,000 bikes turn up and to raise over £43,000!

From the Garden Of England: Wind, Fire and an electrically controlled Meerkat.

Ned and The Boss discover that even with Harley Davidson SatNav it helps to know where you are trying to go.

Bikers from all over the country - and a fair number from abroad - congregated at the Drayton Manor theme park and make the 12 mile journey to the memorial as a processional ride out. The level of organization that this sort of thing requires really shouldn't be underestimated, and it is to the very considerable credit of the organizers, marshalls and the police (who had given their time free for the occasion) that the whole thing went off without a hitch - mind you, the sheer numbers involved meant that the departure from Drayton Manor was somewhat delayed.

Meeting up at Drayton Manor.

Drayton Manor: the view from my parking spot.

The Arboretum itself is an amazing place and I'd recommend anyone who has a chance to go there to take it. I don't think there was anybody there on Saturday who wasn't moved by the place, let alone the event. The short service was poignant and to the point and if there were any dry eyes left after it they didn't make it past the Spitfire fly past.

Gathering for the service.


All in all it was a wonderful, respectful day. The act of the ride itself and the support from everyone along the way - waving flags and cheering - prove once again that yes, we *will* remember them.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

What A Gorgeous Day!

The weather here in Bristol today is absolutely fantastic, no two ways about it. The sun is out and the air is crisp and clear. Wonderful. If it can stay like this for a few days then all the better, but I'm enjoying for what it is whilst I can.

It's a slow news day on the football front, as is always likely before an international weekend. More talk of debts at big clubs: today it's the Manchester Red Devils and their friends down the road in Anfield Road, Scalliesville. Neither story seems any more than aimless conjecture (well, OK, not entirely aimless, the aim being to fill the back pages in a couple of redtops) to be fair. More interesting is the news that the very likeable Arvam Grant is back at Portsmouth - this time as Director Of Football (wasn't he that before, before taking over as manager?). Good luck to him.

Arsenal are reported to be interested in Barcelona captain Carles Puyol. This seems highly unlikely to me - he's already 31 and whilst he's a good and flexible player he's surely not going to be (or want to be) a cheap-as-chips Silvestre-type back-up option? Perhaps it's a bit of Cesc-tapping payback? All very odd. He'll no doubt sign in January.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Rainy Day, Rain Away...

It's that second Wednesday so the rain is probably appropriate. It'd be great if improves over the next day or two as it's the Ride To The Wall on Saturday, but I guess rain would be appropriate there too. If you're not already booked to go, you probably still can...

It would seem that typing is currently not helping my back, so this'll be a brief post, I'll have a new place for the computer sorted by tomorrow.

Take care all. Be righteous.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Buck Moves On...

Saudi businessman Ali Al-Faraj has apparently completed his takeover of Portsmouth and there are optimistic noises about new training facilities and further development of the club's Fratton Park home so perhaps the south coast will still have a top-flight team this time next week. Next likely candidates for lights-out? West Ham would be my guess. Watch this space...

Elsewhere, those popular US owners of the Liverpool GTAers are making it quite clear who will be to blame if the club don't win anything this season: Rafa Benitez. Says George Gillet:

"We have invested more money than our competitors, in keeping with the history of the club.

"In the last 18 months, we have invested £128m on top of what has come in. That means it should be getting better.

"Now if it's not getting better, it's not Gillett and Hicks, it's the manager, it's the scouting. You have to make sure you balance out your analysis."

That'll no doubt endear him even more to those loveable scouse scallies. And no, it's not your year.

Job Seach and EBay action today, so I think tea is called for. Have a great day, all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

And Another One...

These "new weeks" are starting to crop up at one heck of a lick, I have to say. It's age, the Boss tells me. Well, thanks for that:/

Excellent result yesterday, and not just because of the three points and the high score but because we had six different scorers, not the sort of goal supply many other teams in the Premiership (is it still called that?) are going to manage this or any other week. This is, IMHO, a justification of AW's "don't waste money on big names, build a team" approach. On the subject of AW's "how to run a football club" philosophy, Portsmouth fans may not be the only ones atm who are looking over their shoulders at bankers who're now not even lurking in the shadows but creeping out, scenting blood. I can't help thinking that the time is not too far away when a top-flight team bites the dust.

The next England qualifying game - now realistically no more than a friendly - is going to be a "web exclusive". Interesting to see how pubs get round this one. Greek broadband?

Right, let's get on with it...

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Pot Pouri Of Fridayness

Lots of Friday-ish stuff going on today, starting with a visit to the Bethesda Community Arts Cafe where Big Rich is a volunteer chef. I went along as apparently they're looking for someone to help run music groups, something I'd love to do, but the person I need to see wasn't there. No rush, no doubt they will be at some point. If you're passing the place (Redfield, in Church Road) in the morning do pop in for a cuppa or a cheap (and nicely made) breakfast or lunch. Not much "arty" going on there atm, though.

Rich in the kitchen at the Bethesda Community Arts Cafe. The Cafe's well worth a visit.

The discs in my back are doing a very good impression of a bag of Scrabble pieces today, and no amount of jiggling around is getting them to settle back into proper order. This is infuriating, but not actually painful. With any luck it'll clear up of its own volition.

Lots of groovy job application stuff to do today and then it'll be the weekend, for which I really hope the weather stays good as we're thinking of trekking up to Gloucester. If you find yourself with a few mintues to spare you could do worse than sign up for Mr Fisher's latest game site (it's free and quite addictive) The Legend Of The Green Dragon.

Have a good one, make it count!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Well Done And Thanks, Arsene

AW today becomes Arsenal's longest-serving manager. Many congratulations, and thanks for everything you've done so far Arsene!

One To Watch

Today sees the swearing in of the UK's own Supreme Court, which will in very substantial part replace the Law Lords as the UK's hightest Court of Appeal. The move marks the (almost) complete separation of the Judges from the Legislature and Executive and is in theory a good thing, I think. What happens in practice may be another matter but only time will tell that.

Routine (if, in that lot from Fulham's case, unconvincing) wins for Chelski and The Manchester Red Devils in the CL last night. All four English teams should make it into the knockout stages, though Liverpool are making every effort to ensure that they won't give themselves the chance to rest players in the later group games, which may not help their Premiership ambitions.

Good weather here today, if rather cold, and that's good as I'm going to be out and about. More later, perhaps.