Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Colin the Cactus - The Rescue Mission *

During one of those Antiques Roadshow inspired clear out's, hoping to find some long forgotten treasure (for treasure read junk) at least worth putting on E-Bay, if not attracting the interest of Sothebys ,we came across this.
The pot has a sticker reading "Potted Cactus" so I guess that's what it is (or maybe was). As an indication of size the pot is 3.5 inches across, (that's 9cm for my younger readers) and Colin (for that is what I have named him ) stands 2.5" (or 6cm) tall.

Mrs W wanted to throw it away . I decided I'm going to rescue it. I mean him (sorry Colin). After all if hes a cactus he comes from the desert. Deserts go without rain for years, yet still they survive. So he must be rescue-able-ish. First step is a drink of much needed water. If that doesn't work then I'll try him on a teaspoon of brandy (it worked on my rabbit when I was a boy)

So don't forget to pop back regularly for exciting updates in the rescue of Colin the Cactus.

*Any Hollywood producers interested in the movie rights to this heart wrenching but exciting true life drama can contact me via the comments link below.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Joe the Plumber

Last weekend Joe the Plumber became a new real life representative of hard working American tax-payers everywhere. a sort of trans-Atlantic Joe Bloggs in the flesh.

Except it turns out he's not a proper plumber, doesn't pay his taxes and his name's not even Joe.

I could make this a criticism of politicians distorting facts to make a point, or the media jumping on a story without checking facts.

But no. All I'm interested in is the guy's real name.

Samuel J Wurzelbacher

He has to be a relation of some sort. Time to extend the family tree research net a bit wider methinks.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Be Prepared

Woke up this morning to the sound of fog horns. Drew back the curtains to reveal one of those beautiful autumn mornings crisp feel to the air, bright sunshine but very foggy. A perfect photo opportunity.

Grabbed my camera and left for work an hour earlier than necessary heading for the country park down on the edge of the river. The conditions were sure to create some spectacular scenery down there.

Spectacular was indeed the right word. Trees and the chapel rising our of the grey nothingness, the sun creating amazing patterns where it broke through the mist, the water taking on a mystical appearance. Beautiful photos there for the taking.

3 clicks of the camera later and my batteries were dead !

Friday, 10 October 2008

Wurzel Tip #1

The first in a (occasional) series of handy tips from the World of Wurzel.
This one comes courtesy of my youngest daughter. A couple of weeks ago she randomly told me that ground black pepper stops bleeding.
This morning I put it to the test. I suffered one of those shaving nicks that produces more blood than an amputation. 20 minutes and half a toilet roll, face putty (my own concoction of talc and savlon cream) and dabs of aftershave later, the crimson stream continued to pour down my neck, leaving a bright red stripe down my body as it headed to the floor.
Then I remembered Li'l Wurzel's advice. Black pepper, sprinkled onto my hand then a fingertip full dabbed onto the cut.
It works ! Instantly !!
I've no idea why, no doubt some scientist can explain, but clearly it's an old wives - or in this case young daughter's - tale that rings true.
One word of warning though - it stings like buggery !

Monday, 6 October 2008

Watching The Game

On Saturday I had the misfortune to go down the pub and watch Coventry v Southampton live on Sky. (I say misfortune as being a Saints fan the final score of 4-1 to Coventry flattered us).

On any of the multiple screens around the pub I was able to watch the game with a pint in my hand, in the dry (it was raining there) with close-ups, multi- angles, and slow motion replays of all the main incidents.

Nothing really new there then. Except the game was played mostly to a backdrop of empty blue seats with an attendance of 15518 seated in a 32500 capacity stadium. Yet there was I, and many others standing literally shoulder to shoulder like sardines in a packed pub watching the same game. It was just like the old days - the old days at the game itself I mean.

This Weeks Spot The Spectator Competition

I doubt this was a one off, I'm sure there were plenty of pubs in Southampton equally packed. Despite being the home team no doubt there were plenty in Coventry watching in a similar manner.I understand that this is being repeated week in week out around the country. I really fear that the game is on a downward spiral, big changes are going to be needed to bring those missing thousands back to the grounds again.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Ancient Britain

Sunday was one of the few pleasant days off of the summer weather-wise (did I really say summer?) and having just received my annual membership of English Heritage (courtesy of Tesco Clubcard) we took a trip to Avebury.

(all pictures my own - click for larger versions)

I remember visiting Stonehenge a long time ago feeling nothing bt disappointment. The stones looked a quarter of the size I imagined and right next to a very busy road and visitors were kept well away from them.

Avebury on the other hand is certainly worth a visit. Here you can actually walk amongst - and touch - the standing stones that are much much older than even Stonehenge. Although not as complete - thanks to local fielders and farmers in bygone days not realising the story behind there neighbourhood collection of standing stones - but enough has been restored to give you a feel for the place. The sheer size and scale of the site is awesome, not to mention the "feeling" of history. Mrs Wurzel - who understands these things - when touching the stones could also get a "feeling" for something more "mystic".

From Avebury itself and it's ring of standing stones we followed more stones forming an avenue (originally about a mile or so long although less than half remain) to the Sanctuary. From here we walked to the West Kennet Long Barrow, an amazing place that is well over 5000 years old but you can actually go inside. Some meditation sounds - made by real people visiting, not tourist trap audio loop through speakers- coming from somewhere in the darkness of the burial chambers added to the mystical quality.

From there, roughly half an hours walk back to Avebury, passing the mysterious and unexpectedly huge Silbury Hill rounded of a very pleasant day, which despite the plethora of information available probably left us asking more questions about the origins of the whole area than were answered. Which is just how I like my history.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Fashionably Old

Last night - if I didn't know it already - I finally realised that I'm getting old.

My 16 year old daughter had won a place in a catwalk show. 3 dozen young ladies had to be whittled down to just 12, with those 12 acting as models for a fashion show to take place next month. She paraded in front of an audience of around 300 people, first in casual wear, then swimwear. She was then selected for the final round, this time wearing evening wear and being interviewed by "celebrity" (I use that word advisedly) compère (I use that word advisedly too) Mike Osman, she didn't seem at all nervous. In fact quite the opposite she seemed quite the confident young lady. And if my daughter is already a young lady that must make me an old man !

Unfortunately she didn't get through into the final 12. Like any totally biased Dad I thought the judges had it wrong, although to be fair they were picking 12 girls to model clothes and it would appear that they went for the biggest variety of shapes and sizes t show off the clothing.

My daughters boyfriend had also entered. Only 4 men were required but he WAS one of the successful ones. NOT the best way to curry favour with your girlfriend I'd have thought.

The evening - unknown to me until I got there - was a charity fund raising evening for Sophie's Appeal. Sophie had died from wilms disease, something my stepson (before I knew him) had battled through and thankfully beaten when very young, losing a kidney in the process. Sophie's parents set up the charity in her memory, to raise funds to support the social, emotional and educational welfare of sick children and their families or carers whilst being treated either in hospital or the community. So all in all an enjoyable evening for a very worthwhile cause. Even if I did go home feeling a lot older than when I got there.

Friday, 19 September 2008

I'm European for 3 Days

I always consider myself English before British.

And NEVER European (despite what our wonderful leaders want us to think)

Except for this weekend. Golf's bi-ennial Ryder Cup is here again, one of the few occasions when watching golf gets exciting. So for the next 3 days I'll be cheering on Europe in our battle against the "good ole U S of A".

My prediction - USA 12 Europe 16

Go Europe !

Footnote: Why do American spectators habitually shout "Get in the hole" at the ball? 30,000 odd baying Southampton fans have never been able to affect the ability of their strikers to hit the back of the net, why does one man think he can influence the movement of an inanimate object with the power of his voice alone?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

In The Words Of Gary Glitter ............

........... "Did you miss me, Yeah, while I was away ?"

Ok not the best example in the world to use for a comeback was it . But one has to keep ones legion of fans happy ( I say legion, I strongly suspect that "Stephen" and "Turtle" are one and the same) so after a gap of a few months I decided it's time to rekindle Wurzel's World.

No excuses for the gap in posting except for, well, I just don't seem to have had the time. So a quick update. Since I stopped posting in April I've

  • Been a bit busy at work (sometimes, just a bit, now and again)
  • Had my Sten night (joint stag and hen night)
  • Got married (best day EVER)
  • honeymooned in Spain
  • came home
  • still enjoying being married
  • spent ages opening presents sorting "thank yous", photos etc.
  • still enjoying being married
  • tried to revive cricket career after 2 years injured - bowling ok, batting shite, now throws like a girl.
  • still enjoying being married
  • lots of days out to random places
  • still enjoying being married
  • Holiday in Cornwall it rained.
  • still enjoying being married
  • tried to get excited about start of new footie season
  • still enjoying being married
  • Same old Saints - already bored with new football season
  • still enjoying being married
  • regained position as reigning champions at Nick's Quiz Nights (with more than a bit of help from Mich )
  • still enjoying being married.

As for the rest of the world, it's gone into meteorological and financial melt down. Whilst I take no responsibility for the weather rumour has it that financial traders the world over have been distracted whilst searching for my non-existent latest posts and taken their eye of the ball investment wise - sorry about that everyone.

I'll try to make sure I post again before Xmas.

Hello tell all your friends I'm back,
I'm back as a matter of fact,
as a matter of factI'm back.
G Glitter

Monday, 4 August 2008

Greetings from Goonhilly

A quick posting from Future World at
Goonhilly in Cornwall, using reputedly, the world's fastest internet connection.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Crunch Time

As I write, Saints have dropped into the relegation zone. Assuming all the teams above us lose we still need a minimum of 2 points with just 2 games to play.

The first on Monday night against a team who (realistically) needs just a point in front of their own fans to gain promotion back to the Premier League. Even worse it's live on tv, for some reason we take great delight in embarrassing ourselves in front of worldwide audiences. The final game at hone to know that beating us could (depending on other results) earn them a place in the coveted Play-Offs. So those points look a long way off.

As a fan is it being disloyal to admit it? - we are well and truly f*%#ed. Not least because on the day we dropped into the bottom 3 my shareholder invite to attend the hastily called EGM dropped on my doormat. Years of internal wrangling at board level have destroyed the very heart of the club.

Maybe it's karma, maybe the club is simply getting exactly what it deserves.

The only saving grace is that traditionally we have been able to pull a top performance out of the bag when it's least expected

Ah well 1 week to go and we'll know for sure.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Green Fingers

Thanks to a suddenly unaccountable spirit of self-sufficiency I have decided that I am going to grow our own vegetables from now on. Well, slight exaggeration, but last week I succumbed to an impulse purchase of a BBC Gardening magazine, lured by the packet of free seeds on the cover.

Just a week ago I filled 5 little flowerpots with compost and planted our summer rations. In two pots went seeds of "Oriental Mixed Salad Leaves". The other 3 contain either "Anaheim Chilli Pepper", "Sweet Green Basil" or "Gartenperle Tomato". I say "either" because I immediately spotted my first major error, I had forgotten to mark which pot contained which seeds after I'd buried the little blighters. However, undeterred by this initial setback, I covered them in cling film, placed them on the kitchen window sill , lightly watered them and - well basically forgot all about them.

Today just one week on, I remembered them again. I am pleased (and shocked) to report good progress. Both pots containing the spicy salad leaves are displaying astonishing growth, multiple shoots, all topped by two or more leaves, already about 3 inches high. I guess by Sunday it might be time for them to venture out into the big wide world.

As for the "unidentified" 3 progress is mixed. One (I think the tomato) has already produced 4 shoots about an inch high, with slender leaves. One of the others has several green tips just broken through the surface whilst the 3rd has yet to show any sign that I even put anything into the pot.

It's a bit early to say if anything edible is going to result from any of the 5 pots, but at the moment I'm looking forward to a healthy, "planted and picked by my own fair hand", salad-y diet this summer.

My next project - rip out the lawn and plant myself a small field of barley and hops.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Just Say No !

Just Say No !, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

Flickr is probably the best photo-sharing planet on the web. It's a place were anyone can feel accepted, from the most professional of photographers, to the enthusiastic amateur, to a simple "snapper" who wants to share his or her holiday snaps.

Today they have decided - without consulting the members who pay to keep it going - to allow videos to be uploaded as well.

Why ? I've no idea .

If users want to see videos there are plenty of sites already for that, YouTube, MetaCafe etc, there' no need for them on a photography site. I can only imagine it's the same principle as Tescos expanding into the - well virtually everything - market, thatare worried that if users/customers have to go elsewhere for one thing they might not come back.

Personally I feel it's a ridiculous decision. I have learned a lot about photography from Flickr, the last thing I want is to keep stumbling across terrible mobile phone quality videos of drunken teenagers having a "fun" - there's a time and a place for those but it's not Flickr.

Despite the videos being announced less than 24 hours ago there is already a massive and rapidly growing campaign to get Flick to re-think, or at least consult it's fee paying members over this. If they don't it could be a case of corporate suicide - remember other photo-sharing sites are available.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

The Long Journey Home

Yesterday I had to pop up to London on business, taking Mrs W with me.

An easy drive up in the morning, park in Richmond and get a day rover for the tube, avoiding high car parking charges, congestion charges and god knows what other charges.

Tube to Olympia, business concluded by late lunch so hopped on and off tubes for quick wander round Picadilly, Oxford Street, Soho, St James Park, and Whitehall, jump on another tube back to Richmond, grab a coffee and head home about 19.15

Couldn't be easier.

Until we hit a queue on the M3 just south of the M25 junction at about 19.40pm.

A queue which we soon realised was stationery. Soon the sky got darker and the temperature plummeted

A queue which remained stationery until 22.30 when it moved all of 100 yards before stopping again.

A queue which then remained stationery again until 23.07 when out of the blue, and interrupting the 78th game of I-spy - how I didn't guess v was for van again I'll never know - it started to crawl.

A queue which slowly crawled until 23.30 when suddenly we were past the obstruction (apparently a vehicle fire and diesel spill) and we were on our way. Except we didn't go too far, a stop a Fleet Services was by now a desperate necessity.

We finally arrived home at 00.45.

5 1/2 hours for a journey that normally takes 75 minutes. We could have cycled home quicker !

Sunday, 6 April 2008

A Bit Of Snow

Snow Mosaic, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

I might be an overgrown child but I still love to be woken by the words "It's snowing".

For once the forecasters got it right. We would be hit by snow around 8 am Sunday morning. They got it spot in. Heavy snow, which for once actually laid on the ground, gave us a mini-blizzard lasting about an hour. Ironically last but one post was "first Signs Of Spring".

By mid-day it had virtually all gone, but like most things in life, it was good while it lasted, however short.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Unusual Visitor

Unusual Visitor, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

It's not every day you get visited by a skunk - well certainly not in England anyway.

Today, in my shop, a customer asked if it was ok to bring animals in. This usually means a guide dog, or at worst a well behaved dog on a lead so naturally we agreed.

So in he strolled with his skunk in a carry case, and at my request to take a photo for the kids out it came. I had no idea quite how big they are (I thought more like rabbit sized). This one is female, apparently the males are significantly bigger. Thankfully she had been de-scented and was very tame.

The owner runs a business taking animals around schools giving kids a "hands-on" and close-up experience of rare and unusual creatures. Yet another improvement in education nowadays, in my day we had to make do with text book photos and a class gerbil.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

First Signs Of Spring

Cuckoos? No

Daffodils? No

The council tractor spotted cutting the grass on the green outside our house? Yes

That's it then. Winter is officially over :-)

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Favourites Lists - An Impossible Task

Over on the left I've got one of those IMDB widgets showing details of my Top 10 movies. Except it's already a list of 12. (Edit: Since removd it keeps changing the list on it's own!!)

How does anyone ever create a definitive favourite list of anything? When I added it a couple of months back I picked my top 10. I've re-arranged, added to and knocked off films ever since. Last night I watched Basic Instinct again. How did I ever forget to include that one? A true classic of it's genre (even if it does leave many questions unanswered, but then that's part of the appeal) In it goes a new entry at number 5, demoting all those below it.

I guess favourites is an emotional choice depending on a lot of variables, mainly the mood you are in when you select the list. Sliver is still in there, ok as a film but earns extra brownie points for the soundtrack. is that enough to keep it in? Maybe - maybe not. It would never get in a list of "Best" movies, but best and favourite aren't the same thing.

So that list is likely to be continuing to evolve forever. And as I type I have just remembered Green Mile, definitely another favourite. Time to go edit it again.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The Southampton Roller Coaster Ride Continues

Despite appearances the picture on the left is not a roller coaster track. It is an mathematically accurate graph portraying the emotions involved in being a Southampton fan.

For as long as I can remember they have been the masters of unexpected euphoria one minute followed by stunning disappointment the next. Countless times over the years they have beaten - even thrashed - the top teams, only to follow it up with a stunning defeat at the hands of the leagues lesser teams.

Last season we looked like we were languishing in mid-table only for a late run to push us into a play-off spot. From nowhere came a massive wave of optimism - we were on our way back to the promised land (well the Premier League Money Machine anyway). We then contrived to lose our home leg off our play-off only to drag ourselves back into it with a glorious performance away from home, only to shoot themselves in the foot with an own goal and a missed penalty.

This year we were expecting nothing less than the same again - or better. But it hasn't worked out quite like that. Despite a few false dawns we have found ourselves sliding ominously towards a relegation spot. Last Tuesday evening we were at home to relegation rivals Leicester. If things didn't go our way we could have ended up below the dreaded dotted line on the league table. We managed to win, our first in god knows how long - and vital it was too, for all other results went the ways would have preferred them not to. Suddenly things were looking a little more rosy, the new managers ideas were obviously now having an effect and the only way was up. So off they went on Saturday up to Hull, the fans at least in a slightly more confident mood. So what happened? Should have put money on it really, a 5-0 thrashing that apparently flattered us.

With 7 games left the season could now go one of two ways. That latest defeat - the 3rd by 5 goals this season so far - could be the kick up the arse wake up call the players need and spur them on to a few decent performances (or at least a commitment level in excess of 50%) that sees them climbing the table to safety. Or the mental scars of such a defeat immediately after achieving a win could destroy any speck of confidence they had left.

Which way will it go? Who knows, but please note that in that roller coaster picture - I mean graph - you can't see the end !

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Rock Challenge

On Friday I went to Southampton Guildhall to watch my daughter perform for her school in a heat of the Global Rock Challenge. What a great evening.

It's the second year she's done it, and both times her school has put on an amazing performance, ending up in second place on each occasion.

The challenge is for children aged between 11 and 18. It's a combination of drama and dance. The teams have to create an 8 minute performance based around a theme of their choice. Last year they chose as a topic the comparison between war and football violence, in 8 minutes taking us on a trip from the first world war trenches through to the recent World Cup. How can they do that in dance ? I did wonder myself when she told me but when I saw the performance - involving around 40 children- it was simply amazing. This year it was comparing the public and private lives of stars from the era of the Hollywood greats and the different problems they encountered and again it was a superb spectacle worthy of any professional show.

It is down to the children themselves to come up with a theme, the choreography, design and make the props, costumes, hair and make up, select the soundtrack and arrange the lighting.

Every child that takes part should feel very proud, what they achieve is a credit to every single one of them

The only disappointment for me is how little coverage the event gets. With us daily hearing more news of anti-social behaviour and much worse from kids of this age it's events like this that show that not all kids are like that, far from it. Yet as is usual for the media they concentrate on the bad and ignore the good. It's a shame some tv company doesn't take on coverage of the whole tour, it would make much more compelling viewing than much of the "reality" trash we are force fed these days - and you never know it may unearth a few stars of the future at the same time.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Not The Same Old Boring Sunday Morning

St Leonards Church, Bursledon, originally uploaded by Wurzel

We (Mrs W and I ) went to Church this morning.

Not something either of us do every week. Births weddings and funerals (or hatches matches and dispatches as out local vicar put it) is about it really. But we're getting married there soon so we felt we should put in an appearance.

A bit nervous, not wanting to stick out as the new kids (if mid 40s can still be classed as kids) we entered as unobtrusively as possible and took a pew. But the regulars clearly have an inbuilt radar for "first-timers" and several immediately descended on us with smiling welcomes and handshakes.

Both of us commented afterwards that we immediately felt at home and surprised ourselves by actually enjoying the whole thing. It had more of an air of a social gathering than a religious experience with no preaching or ramming a message down our throats. I even found myself joining in with hymns I didn't know, (somehow you just seem to know the tune). We were even given a little bunch of flowers each to celebrate mothers day (why I got one I'm not sure, either I wore the wrong type of Sunday best or mums and dads are equal in the eyes of the lord.). More handshakes, smiles and (politely declined) invites to attend the after-service tea and biscuits and it was all over. Maybe we'll be back again one day - I'd never commit to being a regular but it was far more enjoyable than I expected.

The strange thing is both of us spent the rest of the day feeling like we'd swallowed a happy pill - no mean feat as we'd hardly spoken to each other in February. Maybe there is something in it after all.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Game 39 - Dead As The Dodo

So it looks like the Premier League's idea about playing a 39th game every season in a foreign country is virtually dead already.

Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA is against it.
The English FA (still, allegedly, in charge of the game in this country is against it)
The Australian FA is against it.
The Asian FA is against it
The US FA is against it.
Virtually every fan in England is against it.
Several club managers are against it.

Please forgive me while I just have a gentle chuckle to myself.

How can these money-grabbing morons that run the PL get things SO wrong time after time ? Yet still it is the most popular league in the world (based on attendances) . Makes you wonder quite how popular it could be if the people in charge of it actually knew what they were doing !

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


I'm not even going to comment on Saints performance against Bristol Rovers on Saturday in which we seemingly conspired to get ourselves knocked out of the FA Cup. Yes I am, it was pathetic, inept, unprofessional, embarrassing, lazy, gutless - I could get out my thesaurus and find 100 more words but I think you get my drift. And all in front of a worldwide tv audience as well. Still, I suppose you can expect no more from a club in free-fall, with a board that doesn't have a clue which way to turn, to joint-caretaker-managers leaving everyone wondering who does what, to players who seemingly don't give a toss.

Yesterday tea-time the club took the first step back to normality. Having been linked with God knows how many names as manager over the past few weeks they have finally appointed their man. Dowie? Coleman? Adams? McLaren? Shearer? Nope, the man given the task of inspiring 1000s of disenchanted supporters and more importantly convincing a squad of unfit lazy players hat if they don't get their arses in gear they'll be playing in the old division 3 next season is none other than Nigel Pearson. A manager so experienced he has had a total of 37 games in charge at 3 different clubs in a 10 year period, winning just 9 of them. No offence, and I am all for giving the guy a chance but it's hardly the big name that everyone has been expecting. He's been given a 1 year rolling contract. This appointment to me sends out 3 possible signals.

  1. The club is in such a poor state financially they have had to take the cheapest option.
  2. The club has given up all ambition of returning to the big time and is happy to tread water for the foreseeable future.
  3. The club is still expecting a take-over at any time and are assuming that any new owners will want to bring in their own man
I hope for the sake of te future of our club it's number 3 but I've a horrible feeling number 2 is the more realistic.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Not Just Any Old Table

Carved Table, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

On Sunday we went out to the New Forest and ended up wandering around Furzey Gardens in Minstead. A bit "out of season" from a horticultural point of view but still a nice place to visit. What I found particularly appealing is that you are not "herded around" by signposts, you simply pick path and see where it takes you.

One thing we came across was this huge table. I'd guess its around 4-5m long. Closer inspection reveals no joints anywhere. I can only assume that the whole thing has been carved from a huge trunk.

I wonder if I can order one from Ikea?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Premier League - You're Having A Laugh

So the latest money making idea from the Premier League Money Machine (PLMM) is that all 20 clubs should play 1 extra fixture overseas every season. Not an exhibition match but an extra competitive league fixture. Ever since the football league first started in 1888 clubs have played an equal number of games, playing each other once each home and away. Now, purely in the interest of making money this will all be thrown out of the window, with everyone playing each other twice PLUS 1 random extra game. So no longer will it be a truly equal league.

Whose interest can this be in ? The money men of course, no-one elses. All 20 clubs will earn the same from this venture so all it means is they are in no different a position (relative to each other) than they would be if it didn't take place. Their can only be one reason for it, the PLMM makes millions from tv deals abroad, they must be hoping that the hope (or threat) of being able to see the leagues teams in the flesh once in a blue moon can only make more viewers want to pay even more to watch on tv. Arsene Wenger commented that only 10% of Arsenal's fans are domestic, 90% are global and it would be good for them to have the chance to watch them play. Sorry Arsene, do the maths, if what you claim is true then (assuming Arsenal have twice as many domestic fans as actually attend games, probably a conservative estimate) then to keep those other 90% happy they are going to need to play in a stadium with a capacity of around a million. In fact double that, their opponents will need room for their fans too.

This is yet another step from the PLMM that is treating grass roots fans with contempt. Already around half the PLMM matches are played in grounds with acres of empty seats, as more and more fans get fed up with being treated as custmomers, and not - as many fans believe themselves to be - a part of their club. I have said for many years that the football bubble, if not bursting, is certainly being severely stretched. Could this latest idea cause the final "pop"?

I think the PLMM and the tv people have forgotten one very important element of the game of football. Yes, the PLMM is popular the world over for it's exciting competitive football. But try watching 10 minutes of any game - it could be technically the best game ever played - on tv with the sound turned off, and I think you'll agree it's as boring as shit. It is the crowd atmosphere that creates the tension and excitement. (It's no surprise County Cricket played in front of a few dozing spectators rarely makes our tv screens) If fans become more and more disillusioned and stay away in ever increasing numbers the PLMM and the TV companies will suddenly find they have a worthless product that nobody wants to watch.

One consolation - Saints look more likely to be heading to League 1 than the PL at the moment, at least we won't have to be a part of it.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

I Was There - A Great Moment In Time

Things still don't seem to be getting any better for us Saints fans. Until now that is when somebody has finally managed to upload a video of possibly our greatest ever goal. Not for quality of the goal, just for it's sense of occasion. Injury time against our "friends" from down the road, knocking them out of the FA Cup in the process a their own ground. Ironically injury time was only added for the time taken to treat Mark Dennis after their crowd momentarily took a break from hurling coins at us for the full 90 minutes and decided to aim at our players instead.

The best bit of the video is the crowd reaction to the goal. Over 8000 of us packed into that end , nowadays it's all seated of course and just 2000 have to sit sedately behind that goal (although admittedly recent visits there have given us nothing to cheer about). Match of the Day used a different camera angle of the same goal for the closing credits, I remember being able to pick myself out in the crowd, then I disappear in a mass of bodies surging probably 20 or more steps down the terraces. If ever proof was needed that all seater stadiums don't have the same atmosphere this is it - safer yes, but fun? - not any more.

Click triangle button to view, then replay over and over again

Monday, 4 February 2008

I See Giants

Well I managed it. I've tried before but never made the end of the first quarter, but last night for the first time ever I stayed awake for the whole of the Superbowl. It was past 3 a.m. by the time it finished and I loved every minute of it.

Not being a fan of either team, or the sport for that matter, I done my ususal and decided to support the underdog. Which in this case was the New York Giants, the New England Patriots having dominated the season undefeated up till the final.
Even to a novice it soom became apparent that the Giants "wanted it" that little bit more. Defensively they were superb, whatever the Patriots tried the Giants were equal to and more, seeming to anticipate every play. The BBC used the breaks in play well, explaining things in a way a newcomer to the game could appreciate what was happening without seeming patronising to those that fully understand the game.
The Giants soaked up everything thrown at them and slowly but surely I could sense them taking control of the game. And when with only a few minutes left Manning ( I was even getting to know the names by now) managed to somehow avoid 3 Patriots attempting to tacle him and kept his feet long enough to launch a 32 yard pass in the direction of Tyree. Amazingly he managed to pluck the ball from above his head at full stretch and keep hold of it as he crashed to the ground surrounded by opponents. It wasn't a scoring play but even watching my first game I knew that I had just witnessed something rather special ("one of the finest catches in Superbowl history" says the BBC website today) . It also turned out to be the pivotal moment of the game and the Giants went on to score a last minute touchdown to become worthy winners.
After just this one game I'm now looking forward to the next season of a game I used to ridicule as "not proper sport" . With proper (English) football becoming more boring by the season this could prove a welcome distraction.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Love Of The Underdog

What is it with the English love of the underdog.?

Why do we seem more proud of a valiant loser that an expected winner?

This weekends 4th round cup-tie between the mighty Liverpool (multi-millionaires, 5 times European Champions etc etc) and Havant & Waterlooville* (bunch of part-timers) was a perfect case in point. Liverpool as expected came out comfortable5-2 winners yet the praise and publicity that H&W received would lead one to believe that they had won the cup itself. With H&W taking the lead twice a miracle of biblical proportions looked to be on the cards. Unfortunately Liverpools stamina finally overcame them - as one would expect from full-time athletes - but H&W's commitment certainly wasn't second best.

We English love to see the smaller team doing well. It's something Americans can't understand, they always want the best team to win because that is what the best team should do. But whenever I watch any sporting event as a neutral I always support the underdog, as do most Englishman.

Tim Henman is another case - worshipped for two weeks (well one week, possibly one and a bit if it rains) every summer but never coming close to winning Wimbledon.

In cricket England win a test series unexpectedly against the mighty Australians and the country goes wild. We beat Pakistan and hardly a soul notices.

I am sure we only won the Falklands war because we were underdogs - sending an inadequate task force half way round the world into the enemies back yard guaranteed the full support of the nation. Had the Argies invaded the Isle of Wight they'd probably still be there now.

Maybe it's inbred into our way of thinking. Generally we are a placid race. Unlike the French who organise mass protests at the drop of a hat till their government gives into their demands, the English simply shrug their shoulders accept their lot and get on with things. Maybe an underdog victory (or brave attempt) over the big boys is our substitute for a rising up against authority ? A sticking up of two fingers at those in power?

So I'll carry on supporting the underdog. We get accustomed to disappointment that way, but on the odd occasion when a surprise does happen victory seem so much sweeter.

*For my American readers, Havant & Waterlooville is like Trinidad & Tobago, Liverpool weren't forced to play two teams at once.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

These Google Ads

Ok so I sold out - I've added Google Adsense to the blog. Hopefully I will have earned enough to buy a pint by the time I'm 87.

To be honest I don't believe the vast majority earn anything at all from these little ads, it's certainly not why I added them. It's simply because it intrigues me how they work and what ads appear against what posts. For example the recent post about Hampshire Police being gay friendly brought up one for wrist surgery - tenuous to say the least but I did mention a limp wristed salute in the post at some point. It may not be there now as they seem to change with each view.

But try as I might, I can't find any connection between the post preceding this one - about our forthcoming wedding arrangements - and a Colon Hydrotherapy Clinic in Reading !

Unless of course Google Ads are trying to tell me there is more to married life than I realised !

(I normally try to find a picture to illustrate a blog post - in this instance I decided it's better for everyone if I don't)

Monday, 21 January 2008

Wedding Plans

Christmas has come and gone and the time has really come to get on with our wedding arrangements. There really is no putting it off any longer (as the countdown thingamajig on the left keeps reminding me).

The important stuff is all booked it's the smaller things that seem to make up a much longer list. Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Debenhams zapping seemingly everything in sight with a bar code scanner to create our wedding list. What we thought would take half an hour ended up as a four hour marathon. I found it quite a difficult thing to do - one the one hand most people nowadays expect a wedding list to be available so as to avoid the traditional 2 dozen toasters. On the other hand, the same as when I am asked what I want for Xmas/birthday I don't want to appear greedy and suggest something that the giver can't afford. We stuck with price ranges that we would pay if buying things for ourselves - it would have been easy to go mad (who on earth pays £19 for a teaspoon !!!!) - and hopefully we have managed a reasonable list. Any readers wishing to purchase a present the online list is can be viewed at .... only joking.

Last night we confirmed the honeymoon so that's sorted. Not much else to do now .... except meet the vicar again, order of service , get the invitations out, discuss music with dj, finalise the catering, cars, suits, ties, gifts, buttonholes, no doubt much more I've forgotten to mention.

Meanwhile that countdown clock keep on counting down !

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Big Guns

Aim ---- FIRE !!!, originally uploaded by Wurzel.

On Saturday we visited the Royal Armouries Museum at Fort Nelson up on Portsdown Hill.

A museum of the history of artillery guns and canons doesn't sound the most fascinating place in the world, first impressions can be so wrong.. The nearest I've ever come to the military was a St Georges Day parade with the Cubs so big guns are not the sort of thing I know a lot about. The sheer size of some of them is staggering, the intricate details of some of the more ancient ones make them truly works of art.

Exhibits range from a time when I thought the world was still using bows and arrows, to the components that were confiscated by customs during the Iraqi Supergun scandal of the 1990s and beyond.

The Fort itself has been saved and restored by Hampshire County Council - for once a council decision I can't criticise. Well worth a visit, and totally free as well !

( Whilst we were there we were approached by a guy from the Portsmouth News and asked to pose as "interested visitors" for a photo for an article he was writing for next weeks paper - well what self respecting media-whore could refuse?)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Mincing The Beat

It has just been announced that Hampshire Police has been jointly honoured with the dubious distinction of being the most gay- friendly police force in the country. This isn't referring to the way that they deal with gay people, but as an employer. Indeed they are now, according to the Stonewall Index the third best public and private sector employer of lesbian, gay and bisexual workers in the country.

I really can't understand announcements such as this. Presumably, the whole premise is to highlight diversity and understanding (and by their absence/low position highlighting those that fail), but in my eyes only go to emphasise that, to some people, there is a difference. Basically they are saying "we believe that it doesn't matter whether you are gay or not, so just to prove how we don't discriminate we are going to bracket you into groups to prove our point" To even make such a statement can only emphasise discrimination, not lessen it. I have a similar problem with a lot of so called "racial issues" - often on matters where no issue even exists until some well meaning liberal nut-case decides to highlight it, thus creating the situation they claim to be trying to avoid

To me a policeman is a policeman, it makes no difference whether he is straight, gay, celibate or the biggest pervert on earth as long as it has no bearing on the way he or she carries out his or her duties. So why should the Police (or any employer) differentiate? How do they know who is what? Surely it isn't a question that is asked in a job application or performance review so how can they come with any meaningful statistics regarding sexual preference?. Is there a secret signal like a mason's handshake, maybe a limp wristed salute?

I have a friend who is a gay policeman working in Hampshire. As far as I know he keeps his private life to himself at work, as I'm sure do many others, so the accuracy of any such figures are immediately suspect. Maybe it would be in their interest to "come out" officially, after all if this is something that their employer is proud to be associated with then one could assume that positive discrimination can only help them up the promotion ladder.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

FA Cup 3rd Round Day

Normally one of the most exciting weekends of the football calender, my own team, Southampton, has been drawn against Leicester. And I really don't care.

"The Cup" usually manages to conjure up something exciting, and no doubt it will do this year, but I have no expectations that any drama will be involving my team this time round. In a season more boring than any I can remember the cup, baring some miraculous improvement in form creating a now unlikely push for promotion, was the last hope for any excitement this year. Yet when the draw was made, who did we come up with? One of the "Big 4" ? No. A non-league minnow? No. We got the team we had played the day before. Yaaaaaaaaaaaawn. Sums up the season really.

So, I have no hopes or dreams that I'll be seeing scenes like this again come May this year. I'll try to extend my excitement by donating funds to the local bookie in the vain hope that some unlikely underdogs will come good against top flight opposition.

And you never know - Saints may surprise me yet !

Friday, 4 January 2008

Blow Away The Cobwebs

We spent New Year down in Cornwall, sharing a "quiet night in" on New Years Eve.

New Years Day was spent taking a walk around the hills and beaches of Penwith, at various points along the B3306, my favourite stretch of road in the whole wide world. What better way to blow away the cobwebs of the old year and clear your head for the year to come.

Cornwall - Balancing Rocks 1 Cornish Tin Mine Chimney
St Ives Keep Out
Click any image to enlarge

Thursday, 3 January 2008

That's That For Another Year Then

That's that then - Xmas and New Year over and done with for another year.

Some things never change.
  • It wasn't a white Xmas
  • Everything worth watching was on BBC1
  • The break was too short
  • I spent far more than intended
  • Turkey sandwiches are simply the best
  • New Years Eve is still the most depressing night of the year.
  • For a week or so, no-one knows what day it is
One change I did notice this year was the lack of outdoor lights round our way. Outdoor light displays - some, it has to be said, more tasteful than others - have been a growing trend over the recent years but this year they were conspicuous by their absence. Whether this was down to the size of electricity bills nowadays, an environmentally friendly conscience or simply not being arsed I don't know but I kinda missed them .

The tree and decorations - or what little of them the kittens allowed to remain intact - are put away, the lounge looks twice as big and twice as tidy again and everything looks back to normal. And as much as I look forward to Xmas, normal is what feels best.

Happy New Year everyone - only another 356 shopping days to Christmas.