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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A wise man once said

For those who know me, I like my little wise sayings.  They are sometimes the only have decent thing i say all day.  So this did tickle my fancy, all the more so since it is a variation on one of my very favourite wise sayings.

So here goes.

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.  Give a fish a man, and it will eat for weeks.

Boom boom.

What a difference a day (or two) makes

I am, of course, talking about football.  On Saturday, Fabio said he still believes we can reach the final.  Which is interestingly when his bonus clause kicks on apparently.  But I squirrel.  On Sunday, at 5pm, we thought it was all over, and by wotsit was it over.  I fear the economic recovery will be slowed as a result.

I really am not sure I have the answer.  Many have made the comment that they are paid too much, although from my little poll, this was predominantly from Daily Mail readers.  I don't believe that particularly.  I agree they are paid a lot, and maybe that is too much, however they are more than competitive for their clubs, albeit the British teams were not so hot in the Champion's League.  So the vast sums of money they are being paid does not really affect them during their domestic season.

Maybe they did not respond well to Fabio's strict regime.  I would say that they are mostly over-grown school boys anyway, indeed they often do go straight from the cloistered environment of school to the equally cloistered environment of a football club, so this should feel like normal life for them.
And let's not forget that under Sven Goren Erikson, we concluded that their failure was to do with the relaxed atmosphere filled with the inane giggling of WAGs.

Maybe it is because we don't have a Winter break.  I need this explaining to me, because if they have two weeks off at Christmas, doesn't the season end two weeks later, unless they are going to trim some games somehow.  I vote for getting rid of one of the cup tournaments

So, this is my blueprint for success:

  • make them pay for the pleasure of playing.  Nothing too extortionate, maybe a month's salary
  • employ a manager who is strict but not too strict, and relaxed by not too relaxed, and British this time me thinks
  • Allow WAGs in to the compound, but only if they can score a penalty, or can gargle the National Anthem whilst downing a pint of Strongbow
  • Only pick players who have not played much during the season, you know, injuries, drug rehabilitation, that kind of thing, so they are not tired
  • pay the manager on the average going rate for a decent football manager.  Do not, under any circumstances, pay him, or her, double what everyone else is getting.  And forget about bonuses, they are for bankers and other pugnacious larrikins.  And finally, but most importantly, have some clause in the contract that enables you to avoid paying them off with 3 years' salary when you want to get rid of them.

One last thing to report.  I have seen my first iPhone 4 in the wild.  And I can confirm that it is quite literally just a phone with a touch screen.  I did not touch it of course, because I do not have a licence, or as a colleague suggested, because I do have a, you know, winkie.  I have no idea what he was suggesting, but it made everyone laugh so I thought it worth mentioning.  I think Golfy would be very proud, since I can confirm two things about him; firstly, he does not have an iPhone 4 either, and secondly, he does have a, you know, winkie.  Although on the last point the graffiti on the Worcester toilet wall does suggest that it has, how shall we say, shrunk in the wash*.  It doesn't stop him being a jolly decent chap, but it does maybe explain why he possesses an iPhone 3. 

* As I often say, and my lawyer has suggested I say again, you cannot sue if it is funny.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Signals, and the lack thereof

I am not nearly as prolific as Golfy in bringing you snippets from the web. However, this morning I was rather amused by a story that is obviously a practical joke by Blackberry owners. Take a look and see if you find it slightly amusing. I can only assume that the designers were left handed, or maybe right eared, in any case the opposite to the majority of the gullible public (I am picking on them as the only ones to queue for three hours just to spend a lot of money), since it seems that if you hold the new iPhone in your left hand you block the antennae and lose your signal. It may worsen all those overheard conversations "I'm on the train, using my new iPhone... sorry, you still there?"

We have a barbie planned for Sunday, so it will be in-laws, burgers (veggie of course) and FOOTBALL.


Friday, 25 June 2010

conference calls

These are the life-blood of the business; virtual meetings for a technological world.  They are also the quickest way to change your state of mind from relatively upbeat to near suicidal.  I am feeling that now.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

it's round, and it's in the back of the net

At last, for the first half at least, the English football team managed to perform as well as we expect, and as they do week in week out for their clubs.  A goal settled their nerves and then they began to play with confidence.  There were some good signs with the team.  Gerrard, better.  Lampard, better.  Milner, nice one.  Rooney, still not convinced.  Praying he is off colour, and will come on colour shortly so he can do what we all want him to do, however yesterday, it was the right thing to sub him.

So now we get to play our arch rivals Germany, who have not looked so assured themselves.  May the best team win.  If England are the best team win.  Otherwise, may England win any which way they can.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Where did the weekend go?

We had a lovely weekend 'vannin' in the New Forest with Brad and Angelina.  The weather was broadly sunny, the site very natural, and the company just what the doctor ordered.  The site is one where you just pick your place amongst the trees, and our place we picked amongst the trees was perfect.  A bit far from the toilet block, but then we only use that for solids (over-sharing, Ed.).  The maggots made a camp on the first day, and asked for my help on the second.  As I walked away from the said camp that I have to say was one of my better ones, I had one of those moments that offset the agony (and cost) of having children.  Maggot 2 said, as I strode back to the main camp for another cuppa and a slice of chocolate chip Madeira cake, "See, I told you my dad's camps are the best!"

Ah, bless.

We also went down to the river, that is like the Riviera, but smaller.  And less sunny.  Oh, and not so French.  But it is wet and has a beachy bit and a rope swing, and it was on the said rope swing that all four maggots had a swing and a splash. Sir Scobi even had a go, which was fun, although the rope did stretch rather more for me than for the maggots, making my bum drag in the icy cold water and my flip-flops to drop off in to the river.  Needless to say that provided much merriment for the maggots, and a rather scrambled dismount and ungainly wade to retrieve the said flops.
This week is one spent mostly in London.  The needs of the account are becoming more stringent and on site presence seems to be slowly being mandated via a number of frankly pointless escalations.  I hope that things will settle down after the July deadline, but if not then I may need to hang in there until October/November and then look for something else.

The demands of Starfleet are many and varied, and the joy of working may be slowly ebbing away.  Those with a long-service medal say that things ain't like they used to be, and even though my medal is a few years away, I think that maybe I am beginning to agree with them.

On that cheery note, have a good week, and speak tomorrow.

Friday, 18 June 2010

and . . . relax!

When I was younger, I used to go to aerobics every Tuesday.  Let's all of us think of a long and interesting story as to why I did that, but a guy's got to get his exercise where he can find it.

Anyhow, I have three strong memories of those times.  The first is that Mrs Scobi used to go, so we can sort of say we met over a sweaty leotard.  My second memory was this girl/woman who was always in the front row, who was friends with the instructor, who always did the "if you want to push it further do this" bits, and who had the most amazing curve in her back - her body in a leotard looked like one of those Jane Austin women with a massive bow on the back of their dress, such was the curve and the protrusion of the bottom.  I can feel a serious squirrel moment coming on.
The third thing I remember was the terrible bit at the end when you had to stretch and bend and hold all sorts of positions that in another context would definitely contravene International Human Rights legislation.  Right at the end of all that torture was the "and . . . relax" moment when we were allowed to just lie there and rest.

That is the feeling I have today as Friday appears over the horizon.

I am starting very early today (my day started with the lowest number starting with a six, for Bad Man readers) so that I can finish early and head to the New Forest for some R&R amongst the trees and with our very good friends, who I mistakenly called Homer and Marge last time I wrote about them, but who of course really should have been called Brad and Angelina.  In the good days.  And without any adoptions.  Anyhow, the weather forecast is looking good, and there is a lovely river near the site where one can dip one's toe in to water, or jump from a rope swing in to the deep bit, depending on your predilection.  If the sun does shine it will be as busy as Brighton beach, and just as interesting for the people-watchers amongst us. 

Have a great weekend, and speak again soon.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Golfy Rides Again (or how a fool and his money are parted)

I am absolutely horrified.  Golfy is banging on, again, about the new iPhone 4.  Anyone would think he has nothing better to do with his time, or his money.

However, all that is forgiven since he has found me two different ties that I will seriously ignore.  
The first is a tie pillow.  Now, those that know me know that I do tend to fall asleep at the drop of a hat, or just after the third pint, whichever comes first.  Sometimes they both come at one and I simply cease to exist in the space time continuum that I had previously occupied.  I remember in the good old days when I spent my days in Worcester, and in particular in the Cardinal's Hat in Worcester, I did actually fall asleep through the whole second half of a seminal Cardinal Sin and the Bum Notes gig.  And I was the lead guitarist.  

Sorry for the delay.  Room service just arrived (veggie burger with a side of rocket and Parmesan salad plus a pint of diet coke) and I needed to tuck in, since my stomach was beginning to think my throat had been cut.

The second is an 8-bit tie.  Having started my computing career at a time when 8 bits was more than enough for any man, and colour VGA was just showing off, this does seem apt.  Go checkout Golfy's fine blog for links to these ties, but hurry back or you might miss something.

I am just watching the South Africa vs Uruguay.  The SA goalie has just been sent off.  He looks like quite an honest chap, so I am minded to believe his pleas of innocence, however the ref was not so charitable and has shown him a red'un.  I fear that the hosts may not make it in to the knockout round, and that may well change how the overall contest is received in South Africa.  Even the army may get bored and then who will steward the games.

Have a good evening and speak again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Aiy Phone

You've read the rest, now read the best.  Golfy knows nothing.

So, word on the street there is a new phone on the market.  Apparently you can make phone calls with it.  And other stuff.  Well that's nice then.  My dad is not so in to technology, so he has bought one of those really really simple phones with big buttons that make phones calls.  And nothing else.

So, is the "stuff" worth another £351 of your ill-gotten gains, or is it nothing more than the emperor's new clothes?

To be honest, and don't tell Golfy, I don't really care.  I have seen an HTC with Android, and that rocks.

So, on to other things.  Football.  Interesting.  North Korea, good try.  Brazil, nice one.  Portugal, you've gotta sort out that diving twot coz he is giving your country a bad name.

The next game is on Friday, and I cannot believe the terrible planning, because I am 'vannin' in the New Forest for the weekend.  We are going with our very good friends Homer and Marge*, and are really looking forward to the trip, but, honestly, during an England match.  That really is beyond the pale.  We are going to have to slum it listening on the radio.

Anyhow, that's all for now folks.

* If you think you may be Homer, or Marge, then do not despair.  There is nothing implied or otherwise in the name, I simply could not think of any other couple's names at such short notice.

Monday, 14 June 2010

A day of rest, or two

Well folks, what a fantastic weekend we had.  We have been so blinking busy of late that we just needed a weekend when we had nothing on.  And this weekend was that weekend.

Saturday AM was spent as a Parent-and-Child science morning at Maggot 1's school, which was greatly enjoyed by all.  The school have been working on capturing the children's imagination, and they have done this by delivering a box of unknown stuff to each class (even teacher did not know what was in the box) for them to do experiments.  Any experiments.

So on Saturday, we were presented with a whole load of trifle-related ingredients.  Whole trifles in tubs, squirty cream, those funny little finger buscuits your gran puts or put in to her trifles, custard and a lot of other incidental ingredients.  There was also proper science stuff like pipettes, stop clocks, thermometers and other stuff that, had we been wearing one, we would have definitely put in the pocket of our white lab coat.

Our goal was simply to invent an experiment.  The science lady asked us to think "what changes, and what stays the same", and with a few words of encouragement from the school science lead, off we went.

Our first experiment was to test the absorbency of finger biscuits with various different liquids.  Surprising the vinegar was the most absorbent.  Who would have thought it?  Or really care?

Our second experiment was how far different amounts of cream on a biscuit splattered when a 1Kg weight was dropped from a height of 30cm.  That was really just coz we needed to make some mess.

The rest of the day was spent at home, doing stuff, some of it even classifiable as chores, but all making us feel more in control and with some important things off our to do list.

Oh, and of course there was a footy match to watch.  More words have been written about that already than had previously existed in the whole history of the planet, so I will keep my comments brief.

1.  How we played - not bad, could do better, key players performed under-par, so look out world when they have a good game.
2.  The USA goal - poor old Green, reckon he has the strength to recover, is probably an OK goalie, and certainly did a great save in the second half.  Having said that, I am a Pompey fan, so not too unhappy if the big man Jammo gets the next game.
3.  Will we win the cup - doubt it.  Happy to hope.  That is the English curse.  Always looking for hope to triumph over experience.

Have a good week.

Friday, 11 June 2010

So here we are then

Spending Tuesday to Thursday in London is a very intense experience.  I do at least a week's work in those three days, yet I also have a day either end working at home which is obviously still work, but does seem like overtime.  All that is to say, today is Friday but it most definitely feels like Saturday.  And we all know what a bummer feeling that is.

Today is, of course, the first day of the 2010 World Cup.  Only if you have been living on another planet, or Gloucester* as we Londoners** call it, can you have missed the fact that we are about to enter three weeks of either "glorious sporting endeavour" or "the wost three weeks of the summer, but never mind, I need to tidy up the loft and paint the kitchen anyway", depending on which side of the spherical divide you sit.

Me?  I love it.  I have to admit that somewhere through the first week the prospect of three games of football in one day between teams I have no interest in does pale slightly, however overall it is a delicious prospect, and I do rather enjoy all the spectacle and the buzz that is created amongst the England-supporting members of the community.  I even love flags, which would probably rank as an extreme social faux pas were I not already a self-confessed 'vanner, and I expect we will have one or two around the house.  It's not for me, it is for my children of course.  I am just trying to work out if I can dye the lawn in my back garden with a red cross, and must remember to borrow the ladder off my dad so I can fit the ten metre square roof-top tarpaulin***.

Tomorrow, England play their first game.  We had planned a family pizza and footy session, but Maggot 1 has just been invited to a sleep-over birthday bash, so we are recording it to watch on Sunday.  Obviously that will be "watch it for the second time" for us adults, but don't tell the children.

Have a good weekend, speak next week, and ...


*  Remember, you can't sue if it is funny.
** Did you notice that?  I have only been and gone and called myself a Londoner.  Whatever next?
*** Remember, as long as it is funny****, you don't need to be truthful either.
**** Humour is, like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Somewhere different

Today I will be venturing to somewhere different.  This particular somewhere different is a Starfleet office up in the smoke that is, let's say, not on the north of any particular bank or building society.  The purpose of the visit is to indoctrinate a number of new recruits in to the ways my little part of the universe and its associated customer.  The end game will be a larger number of troops able to manage some of the growing workload for which I am my fellow troopers are responsible.  This will set me much more firmly in the role of troop commander, and much less as a trooper, and how that will sit with me has yet to be determined.

What I know right now is there is a job to do, and things I need to achieve in order to satisfy "up the chain", and I am keen to do that.  Whether I have found my next career step is yet to be seen, but watch this space.

And if all that confused the hell out of you, then I am not surprised.  All this talk of Starfleet and troopers and other space-related analogies certainly improves the names-changed-to-protect-the-guilty aspect of the writing, but do not help any with understanding.  I therefore hope that you fall in to one of two camps:

  • you are a Starfleet trooper yourself and use similar language - you know who you are Golfy, Bad Man and Stretch ;-)  
  • you are seeing me shortly and can ask what the bl00dy hell I am talking about.
If you are in neither camp, then firstly, welcome, and thanks for reading, and secondly, feel free to leave a comment and I can try and enlighten you*.

Until next time, adieu.

*not forgetting the Scobi code of conduct.  Not too much abuse, and spell the words properly.  There are still two S's in to$$er.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I have wired internet in the hotel, freeman's for a member of Starfleet.  Hurrah for technology, although it is ethernet running at 10mbps, which is I believe the network connection speed for the ZX Spectrum.  

So, I am drawn naturally to comparing my first day back in the Smoke with my week off in North Norfolk.  I think it is fair to say that Londoners have less fingers (cheap joke, Ed) but more time for you.  There is certainly no underground system, except the Roy's underground fanbase,  of which I count myself the founder, and only, member.  They do have an extensive Broads network, the maximum speed on which is six miles per hour, four in built up areas.  This is about fifty percent faster than most traffic in London.
A portion of chips in Ken's of Wroxham (probably bitter rivals of Roy, but fair play to the fellah, he has stuck it out) is one pound twenty.  A portion of fries anywhere in London is seventeen pounds ninety-nine.  Probably.

The only other difference is that in London I am staying in a fancy hotel, and in Norfolk, a little white box.  The view from my room window today is rather impressive, though.  I am looking over Oxford Street, and just to the right I can see Marble Arch.  The only view from our 'van was the hairy @rse of the woman opposite doing her "morning stretches".  All I can say is, Marble Arch is slightly smaller, but not as white.

Second day back at work, first in my customer's offices, and the predicted "hard day" was just that.  Left the office at a quarter to eight, but had a simple six stop tube ride and then a one minute walk to the hotel, so it is an improvement on the Novotel, which had a tube change and a fifteen minute walk the other end.  The only down-side is I am not collecting any loyalty points staying here.  And breakfast is £18.95.  Rather a lot, so I had better make sure I eat my own weight in full English.  Unless my wife is reading this, in which case it is fruit, yogurt and a cold bath and flannel wash for afters.

I may well end up blogging every day this week, so I hope that I can attract back some off my many readers, who, it has to be said, have rather dwindled since I have been off on holiday, and working in London.

Come back dear readers, all is forgiven, and all is to be played for.  Now that is a topic for tomorrow.  Football.  You either love it or hate it.  Golfy is broadly neutral, which makes him probably a bit, you know, but I absolutely love it.  The Wan Kenobi clan have their England shirts, flags and age-appropriate drinks at the ready for the first game on Saturday.  


I can't get no sleep

Deep in the bosom of the gentle night
Is when I search for the light
Pick up my pen and start to write

 So say Faithless, and so say Scobi Wan Kenobi.

I am off to London this morning, and as is often the case, when the alarm is set for 05:30 I wake up at 04:11, lie in bed for a while trying to stop thinking about stuff, then give up and 04:45 and come downstairs for a cuppa.  

Having updated my podcasts for the train journey ahead, checked the weather over the next three days - warmish but raining every day, dilemma* for dress code coz I am always too hot in London - and even had a quick peek at Facebook.  I did listen the new Faithless single as a result, one friend being a fan, and was thus inspired to start this blog with a Faithless reference.
It is now the time I would normally be getting up so I must go get myself clean and dressed.  

And on the subject of dressing, I do find myself once again with a dilemma on what to wear.  I have been dressing in "business casual" clothes all this century and so only have one suit to my name, and that is the one I was wearing when I was married in 2000.  Where I work is in the City, and the general dress code is blue shirt and dark suit, most with a tie but some without.  I therefore started with a tie, dropped it as soon as I could coz I am not a fan, but kept the suit.  The problem with a suit is the heat.  Walking everywhere, riding the tube, being in an office with poor air-conditioning and having a body that is a human radiator means that I am always too hot, so end up carrying the jacket, which is the last thing I need with a rucksack for my laptop and a wheelie "trolley dolly" suitcase for my stuff.  It then sits on the back of my office chair all day, only to be carried over my arm to the hotel at the end of the day.  Today therefore I am experimenting with a smartish business casual look and see how uncomfortable, or not, I feel dressing thus.  Let's call it a social experiment, albeit one that is unlikely to be causing any kind of ripple on the pond of human knowledge.  If I was going for my Cub "Rebel" badge, I am not sure I would get it, however the thing about clothing is that it shouldn't matter, but of course it does, and there is no doubt that I make all sorts of assumptions about a person by how they are dressed, so everyone else does too.  

Whatever they think I am, that is what I am not**.

* I had to Google the spelling of this word, and find that "dilemna", which is how I would have been tempted to spell it, is wrong.  There are 16,700 pages discussing the correct spelling of it, thus making the choice of spelling one of two options, which is one of those thingies where the word is itself.  Hmmmm.

** Another film and music reference.  Traffic light lolly for anyone who can name both.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Time off for good behaviour

Some of you may have noticed that I have not been blogging much lately.  This is caused by two factors:

1. When I work in London, I cannot access this blog site (blocked by my customer's web-blocking devil)

2. I have been on holiday in Norfolk for a week last week.

The former is probably well known to you.  The latter may not be, so let me tell you all about it.

Norfolk, home of the north folk (bit of a guess) and to Norwich, which itself is home to a football club whose main claim to fame, for a know-nothing southerner, is when their most famous supporter had one too many sherries during the first half, and decided it was a good idea to rally the troops during the half-time interval.  See here to be reminded.  It was car-crash TV of the highest order, and I am guessing not many people tried to haggle down her after-dinner speaking fee after that.
It is interesting to note that she does herself live with the south folk, in Suffolk.  Rumours are it is to be nearer London, for her work you know, but then rumours know nothing.

The highlight of the visit was a visit to Wroxham.  This is on the Broads, and has a low bridge through which only small and medium sized vessels can pass, and so Wroxham has become a natural start and end point for the boating folks of the Broads, of which there are many.  Most of these you would really rather not be in charge of a large floating vessel, but in charge they are and after a couple of Pinot Grigios they are world-class.  Except with the bridge.  There are several chunks out of the said bridge, which now has a steel bridge installed above the original stone bridge, presumably for strength and such like.  Anyhow, you can get a "pilot" to take your boat through for you, which seems a very sensible route to take, and ensures that your boat looks just the same when it comes out the other side as it did when it went in.  The fact that the "pilot" basically does the process at top speed and with one lazy eye barely looking forward makes it all the more thrilling a spectator sport.

The other key claim to fame for Wroxham is Roy.  Roy owns the town.  There is a Roy's department store (bit like House of Frasier), Roy's food supermarket (Asda), Roy's Toy Emporium, Roy's Children's Clothing and Roy's Garden Centre.  Roy obviously saw a gap in the market and went for it.  My picture of Roy is six foot six, stetson, spurs and a plaid shirt, with a kind smile to old and young alike, and a wallet the size of a small fridge. 

We also had a lovely day out in Bewilderwood, which is an adventure playground set in the woods, with slides, roof-top walkways, zip wires and the like, all set in beautiful woods and selling only good quality, often organic, food.  We took a picnic of course, can't be doing with all that healthy stuff.

Anyhow, back up to Londinium this week, so will be non comunicado for 3 days.

Have a good week, and keep the faith.  I will try to find a way to blog when I am "up North".