Tuesday, 29 May 2007

A True English Tradition

Yesteday I visited the Bat and Ball pub at Broad Half-Penny Down near Hambledon.

This pub is generally known as the "cradle of cricket" . In the late 18th Century, Hambledon CC, based at the pub and the pitch directly opposite, were the top team in the country, and consequently the whole world. Regularly they would take on, and beat, England themselves. And it was here that the rules of the game became standardised forming the game as we know it today.

The pubs bars are full of fascinating cricketing memorabilia covering hundreds of years, and to add a level of authenticiy to it's status as the home of England's Summer sport ........... it absolutely poured down !

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Marc Hom - I Thank You

Marc Hom is an excellent photographer.

I confess I have never heard of him till now, it's just an excuse to reproduce a couple of his excellent photos of the lovely Victoria Beckham.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Cheeky Scousers No More

Ever since their heyday of the mid 70s Liverpool have been my third favourite team (for some strange reason Stenhousemuir are my second). This week they missed out on a chance of a 6th European Cup win. But the bigger, and much sadder, news story was the hundreds of fans with genuine tickets locked out of the stadium.

Reminiscent of our own FA Cup final days earlier the allocation of tickets given to the clubs involved in the match was totally inadequate. In this case Liverpool had 17000 out of a 63000 capacity. Surprisingly, of these only 11000 were available for "proper" fans, the club giving 6000 to corporate sponsors. It was never going to be enough.

An estimated 50,ooo travelled to Athens, the vast majority without tickets. Many of those made it to the game. Some paid extortionate black market prices, some bought fake tickets and some simply walked into the ground unchecked. It soon became apparent that the process for checking tickets couldn't handle hundreds turning up en-masse, and fans were admitted unchecked. No doubt word of this spread like wildfire adding further to the confusion. Eventually the stadium was full, with aisles blocked by the extra fans who had gained admittance, and UEFA (responsible for the allocation figures in the first place) decided to close the stadium for safety reasons. If you were still outside with a genuine ticket it was tough, and people complaining were met with intransigence, batons and pepper sprays.

Whilst the issue of allocation numbers needs reviewing in future no-one can be blamed for this chaos except Liverpool "fans" themselves. The only people they deprived of seats were their own genuine fans. And of all the fans in the world surely Liverpool's should be the most aware of the dangers of overcrowding in stadiums, with the death of 96 of their fans and another 766 injured in the Hillsborough disaster a memory that never will (nor should) go away. Yet still many were ready to put selfish greed ahead of their own and others safety with no care for the consequences.

For far too long Liverpool fans have got away with being "cheeky Scousers" for things that Leeds or ManUre fans would be condemned for. This week I think they may have lost that tag forever.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

It's A Small World

"Where is Moldova anyway ?"* asked my Mum, only last Saturday whilst casting the occasional glance at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Today my shop received an online sale purchase from a customer in that very same country.

As Harry Hill would say - what are the chances of that happening?

*It's between Ukraine and Romania

Surrounded By Women

I was given 2 free tickets for a night at the theatre, it would have been daft not to use them. So last night Mrs W and I put on our finest and went off to see ........... The Vagina Monologues.!

I had a rough idea what it was about, having checked a few reviews online. Although a few early ones mentioned "anti-men" later reviews mentioned men "laughing loudest". So I thought I'd pluck up courage and brave it.

As we approached the theatre there were women everywhere. A whole coachload had just arrived and small groups huddled outside the entrance. I kept my head down as we walked briskly through the foyer and headed for the bar. I felt like a negro entering an Alabama drinking den. Whilst supping my (manly) pint of lager a quick game of spot-the-lezzer was proving just too easy although I was thankfully reassured when I heard the one with the beard speak, I wasn't alone after all !

Once we took our seats a quick look round the theatre made me realise that there were plenty of men there. Probably outnumbered about 30 to 1 but in a theatre the size of The Mayflower that's still a fair few, although I doubted that there would be much of a queue for the gents at half time.

The show itself, starring Sue Holderness, Jerry Hall and Claire King was great. It would be no good going if you don't have an open mind. At times the stories were very poignant, whilst much of it had the audience - including me and all the other men - nearly wetting ourselves with laughter. When I say nearly I think one women a few rows in front of us actually did.

If you get the chance Id recommend seeing it. But any gents going, make sure you take a lady with you.

Oh - and I learnt quite a few new words last night - I thought it was us men that were meant to be the crude, filthy minded half of the species

Monday, 14 May 2007

Boring Boring Premiership

Once again another Premiership season draws to a predictable close.
Surprise surprise, ManUre, Chelski, Arse and Liverpool (guess which one of the 4 I like) take the Champions League places, the top 2 losing just 8 games between them . The title was only a 2 horse race probably since Xmas and apart from the fans of the 2 clubs involved no-one gave a toss who actually won it.

The only "excitement" was the relegation battle where - again - surprise surprise, 2 of last years promoted teams and a team who had 3 managers in the season eventually went down.

Compare this with the Championship, where the top 2 automatically promoted teams both lost over 25% of their matches and now, with 46 games plus one play off match so far, my team Southampton along with 3 others will STILL think they have something to play for. One of the 4 will end up going up to the Promised Land of the Premiership.

Do I hope we make it? - Of course I do.

Will I be disappointed if we don't? - Not one bit

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Driving Again.

That was a v...e...r...y long month !

For medical reasons I've not been allowed to drive for a month. I've had to rely on Mrs W to drive me everywhere. I think she done ok, whenever I dared open my eyes she seemed to be travelling in a straight line and always had inches to spare between us and the car in front. The handle thing above the passenger door where you hang your coat has been gripped so hard it's now bent out of shape. But a quick inspection has revealed that nothing seems to be missing from the outside of the car.

But seriously, you don't appreciate the independence that you have in being able to drive where you want when you want until you can't. Even though it was only temporary I couldn't wait to get back behind the wheel. And I think the car missed me too. When I turned that ignition key for the first time I'm sure it wasn't just me sighing with relief.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Childhood Punishment.

When I was young, if I had been naughty, my Mum used to lock me in a cupboard under the stairs. This was a deep dark cupboard. I would be shut in with no food or drink, just the gas meter and the occasional spider for company. Depending on how naughty I had been the punishment could last anything from hours to weeks.

My Mum pleads not guilty to these atrocities to this day ........... but as we all know everything on t'internet is true, so now she can deny it no longer.

She also told me double decker buses had weights on the bottom to stop them falling over, she denies this one as well.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Long Hot Summer

On 1st May 1976 two memorable things happened.

1) Saints won the FA Cup for the first (and so far only) time.

2) The sun came out

Actually the sun coming out wasn't memorable at the time, it was only 4 and a half months later when it went away again that it had become memorable.

That was a GREAT summer. Hardly a cloud in the sky. Temperatures reached more than boiling. Every day! Rivers steamed. Car became the new barbeques with eggs being fried on the bonnets and sunday roasts being cooked in the boot (thats hoods and trunks for any American readers) . Roads melted. Lawns looked like earthquake zones. Cricket (American readers imagine a game of baseball, organised around meal breaks, for almost a week) test matches (which according to the rules HAVE to be delayed at some point during the 5 days) were delayed when umpires melted. Even night times were too warm because even the moon was hotter than usual. *

Throughout the previous winter and spring we had helped my Dad build a swimming pool in the back garden, 4ft deep 20ft diameter. Perfect timing or what ? In the build up to that years summer holidays I was rapidly becoming Mr Popular at school. One weekend we counted 41 family friends and relatives who all "just happened" to "pop round" and, by amazing coincidence, all "just happened" to have towels and swimmys with them.

The summer dragged on and on, until we were back at school. Mid -September came and I went on a weekend field trip to Fairthorne Manor, which included a number of outdoor activities including, on the evening we arrived , orienteering . None of us had thought to pack waterproofs, no-one had even seen a cloud since April. Half way through our map-following mission the heavens opened with a vengeance. 6 inches of rain in 30 minutes. Soaked to the skin, and only summer clothes to last the weekend. Still, we were kids, we enjoyed it.

Today is the 3rd of May. It's already been sunny for at least 10 days now and no sign of letting up. Could 76 be repeated again? If it lasts until September again have some waterproofs ready - you've been warned.

Climate change ? - my arse !

*Disclaimer: This article has been written with the aid of selective memory. The author accepts no responsibility for any errors in statistics quoted, nor errors in accuracy of descriptions of events.


Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Damned Health & Safety

TodayI am mourning the sad loss of my Charlotte Church avatar which I used on a message board.

The forum was frequented mainly by the "older generation". Apparently since the avatar was introduced, several members had to seek medical attention for unusually high blood pressure. They were instructed by their GPs to use the forum only in moderation, and only whilst there was another responsible adult in the room with them in case of emergencies.The forum admin, understandably took the unilateral step of removing it on the grounds of Health and Safety.

For those who are young enough and/or fit enough to withstand the excitement, or indeed too old but like to live dangerously, I am pleased to be able to link to the avatar HERE for your viewing pleasure.