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Thursday, 28 June 2012

And . . . relax

Off to Wimbledon tomorrow.  Centre-court tickets, v. excited, Maggots on sleep-over with my parents.

Could it get any better.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Another England stat

Another statistic from the England vs Italy game.

Apparently, the highest passing statistic was from Hart to Carrol, the good old Route One, and Carrol did not come on until 60 minutes.

Monday, 25 June 2012

How much?

In continuance of my previous thread on the fact that the English football team cannot keep the ball, here are some statistics from the BBC News website that should make any decent chap weep in to his Pimms.

Just in case you were in any doubt, the table really is comparing two (of our better players) to one of Italy's players.  And our two were absolutely knackered at 70 minutes.

Parker and Gerrard v Pirlo

Reality bites

And so the story continues, with the ending a tedious, nay tortuous, repetition of history, a history that never ceases to sadden those of us who like to try and be optimistic.  Last night, optimism died.

So let's look at the positives.  Hmmmm.

I heard Henry Winter on the radio, sports writer for the Telegraph, and he introduced a new concept that made sense.  The question asked of him was why is England not as good at passing and keeping the ball as everyone else.  His answer was that, some years ago, the FA decided to spend money on rebuilding Wembley.  They decided they wanted to create a fantastic stage on which the footballing players could perform, rather than investing in the actors who perform on that stage, which would have been things like skill schools for children.  Apparently, we are doing these skill schools now and we now just have to wait 15 years or so for the benefits to show in our young players.

So, there you have it.  England are just not technical enough, we know that, and are starting to do something about it, so just be patient.

I hope this is true.  I actually rather enjoyed our performances in the initial games, but last night all that enjoyment evaporated and I was back to that gut-wrenching feeling that our team is just not good enough, which is a very hard pill to swallow.

On lighter news, we have a fantastic weekend with Brad and Angelina.  Fantastic time, fantastic food and fantastic company, marred only by the absence of Cherry Madeira.  We are also in the process or arranging a course fishing day for Brad and me, and a wider sea fishing trip with David and associated Maggots too, the latter once we have cleared the idea of Maggots going out sea fishing in a boat with our beloveds.

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Over the last month or so, I have been gently considering why I write a blog, whether I should continue, and just generally what the hell this is all about.

I have all my faithful readers of course, but their numbers have dwindled over the last quarter, and between you and me the advertising department have said that if readership does not increase, the advertising revenue would not fully cover their expense accounts, and the Editor has hinted that he may be looking for a new writer, hinting at Vanessa Feltz or Jordan.  To be honest, both can spell, so it might work.

There is also the question of the purpose of a blog.  It all started, as regular readers will know, from the idea of 750 Words, but that was not even something that I managed to find myself, rather being led to the bright light by Golfy and BadMan.  So I cannot even claim originality on that one.

What I have found though is that the act of blogging does help to tune my writing, and I am not trying to say that I am now as good as, I don't know, Jeremy Clarkson or Jeffrey Archer, but however good or bad the final blog result, I do believe it has improved my business, and personal, writing.  It is probably that thing about daily* practice and I for one enjoy the pleasure of writing and the benefits it brings to other writing-related activities.

There is also the act of mental free-wheeling, of allowing the subconscious a voice, and this bit is most interesting.  I think it will come as a great shock to my readerdingy** when I say that sometimes, now and then, once in a while, I start writing with no idea of what I am actually going to say***.  This is quite an interesting experience, and joking apart, I do think that actually that does give your sub-conscious a voice.

So, as I write one more weekly entry than normal discussing whether I should continue writing a blog, I wish you again a great weekend, and hope that it starts well, and ends better, with an England win.

* To save BadMan saying it, I will write it.  I am not, of course, a daily writer, more like three times a week with a favourable wind.
** Like readership, but not as big.
*** I do trust the intelligence of my reader, but just in case, yes, I was being ironic.

Friday, 22 June 2012


How could I have forgotten the football on Sunday?  I fall in to the 80% of the land who is able to forget history, and who is able to believe that we can actually win at each and every tournament we enter.

So, I predict a tough game, with Italy playing their usual defensive game (you cannot lose if you do not concede), and, for once, England playing something similar, although for England they will probably throw a few heart-in-mouth moments just to keep us entertained.  Sometime in the second half, just when people are starting to think about reaching for the remote, there will be some heroic goal scored, "on the break" in the vernacular of the sport.  This may be Rooney, but just as likely to be one of those young whippets we keep fed on raw meat and Alka-Seltzer.

Whatever the score, I predict an England win.  I may even try one of those ingame bets that the nice Mr Winston keeps telling me about.

Have a good weekend, and please, whatever you do, don't switch over, you will miss all the fun.

And . . . relax

Oh Friday, how I have missed you.  I have had a week.  In the office twice, count them, for normal working, plus a full day conference yesterday, where I was able to get an insight in to the future of a number of technical areas, which is always a good way to spend the day.  I made a vow to myself to do more of this, so that my horizons do not slowly close in on me, and this is evidence of my commitment to that vow.

Anyway, all these days out and I can barely remember where I live.

This weekend we are up country to visit Brad and Angelina to celebrate Brad's birthday.  This is always a fun weekend away, and as long as there is Cherry Madeira cake and plenty of tea, all will be well with the world from my perspective.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I love Tuesdays

Today will be a day of two halves.

The first half will be about getting Maggots to school, doing some work, getting the Maggots back from football training and doing a bit more work.

The second half will be full of feeding Maggots, getting Maggots in pyjamas, getting milk for Maggots, and likely wiping the backsides of Maggots, all in pursuit of a family sit down at, oh, around seven thirty or so.  From that point on, I am not expecting, nor will I entertain, any kind of interruption or "could I just have..." moments, for at seven forty five this evening, two whistles will simultaneously blow, one in the Donbass Arena, the other in the Stadion NSK Olimpiyskiy*, and forty-four fine young men** will kick a football round trying to penetrate the net of the other team.

It has been interesting to observe this championship.  As I have mentioned previously, and in fact I was only mentioning what other finer minds had previously observed, the lead up to this championship has been something of a damp squib***.

Now that the England team have avoided defeat for two whole games, the mood in the country, I am sensing, is starting to turn.  Only starting, since there are still neither the flags nor the avid discussions in the street yet appearing, however things are, I believe, starting to turn.  Pundits, whose utterances are often ridiculed, but then you really should try to keep talking for ninety minutes on a single subject without saying at least one thing that you later regret, have even started to discuss not, as would seem sensible, our chances of winning the quarter-final against either Italy or Spain, but actually whether we can win the damn thing.  Now that is like throwing a bucket of cold water on a damp squib.  Pointless.  Nevertheless, the mood in the Scobi camp is, at least for seventy-five percent of the population, one of slightly excited optimism.  The other twenty-five percent is, as you know, yet to be convinced.

And all this is without adding in the Rooney factor.  This derives from the English disease, otherwise known as the triumph of optimism over experience.  I actually rather like the young man, and he can, when on form, be quite fun to watch.  Indeed, at his very best, he can be dynamite, and cause a chap to spill his G&T.

However you plan to spend this evening, I hope that you gain satisfaction and pleasure by ten o'clock.

* thanks to all that is bountiful in the iTunes library, and particularly the Euro 2012 iPhone app.
** this one is very much up for debate, what with LO being part of the school of thought that some members of some teams are nothing more than thugs.
*** A squib (not squid), as I know some of you are asking, is a miniature explosive device used in a wide range of industries, from special effects to military applications, and if you don't believe me, you can read about it here.

Monday, 18 June 2012

By your beds

Monday is here again, and I find myself in my second most local Starfleet office, with the expectation of a "Town Hall" session this afternoon.  These sessions are where senior folks talk to the troops, and take questions from the less impudent of them.  This one was to be followed by little drinks, and to be honest my main reason for going was mostly about networking and brown-nosing, although I do want to raise a question and will probably enjoy some higher-ground insight in to the state of the nation.
The only bummer is that it was meant to be led by my leader, but he is now elsewhere and so it will be led by someone else's leader, which should still make it interesting, but may put a stop on my potential question.

The weekend went exactly as we wanted it to go.  Friday night was a success.  We had three seconds and two firsts, so left the ground with more betting money then we arrived.  If only we had not bought any drinks and food then we could probably have called out a financial success also, but of course hunger and thirst are the devil for the bottom line, and so it proved.  We were thirsty, and then we were hungry, and then we were thirsty again, so all in all, it cost us some money, but we had a great time.

The finale of the night was a DJ slot by Dermot O'Leary.  I was not sure exactly what I was expecting, so we happy to receive what was being given, however others in the crowd seemed to have stronger feelings as to what should have been provided it, and in some sections, this was not being provided.  Indeed, one or two were heard to utter "Dermot O'Dreary", which I thought was a bit rum.

Sunday was Fathers' Day, and that meant a lie in until nearly 8am followed by cards and presents, followed by the breakfast of my choosing, limited only by the need for it to be achievable by a six year old.

Friday, 15 June 2012

And . . . relax

I am pleased to report that, as my first week back after a holiday draws to an end, that I seem to be broadly in control.  This of course is the most stupid thing a chap could ever admit in public, since any such proclamation would inevitably lead to an avalanche of stuff in which I am very much not in control.

A long time ago, we discussed with David and Samantha the idea of a night at the races.  Being within a couple of miles of Goodwood, that seemed to be the obvious choice.  The final factor was a set of three "DJ Nights" which, for three of the four of us at least, decided it.  We duly booked an evening to watch some racing, then watch Dermot O'Leary spin some platters*.

This all sounds fine and dandy, and indeed, under most normal situations, would be a welcome night out with good friends, however tonight is not a normal night.  England are playing the second of their three Group games, and at least one of the four of us would probably rather be watching our defenders hoofing it up the pitch than some horses hoofing it round a racecourse***.  Ho hum, I have the iPhone Euro 2012 app on my phone, with the neat "drag down the screen to refresh" feature, and that will be how I "watch" the match.  I had better bloody win some races.

Other than that, we plan a fairly quite weekend.  There is the usual Saturday morning sporting activities that will require the Dad Taxi; we will visit Gee Gee in hospital, possibly do a bit more to make the garden presentable, if the weather holds, maybe play Monopoly, and definitely try to get out each day to avoid cabin fever.

I hope your weekend is as action-packed as ours won't be.

* or whatever the kids are saying on the streets** right now
** or wherever it is that they say such stuff
*** See what I did there. Nice.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


So my France-England score was a bit amiss, but nevertheless the scoreline was pleasing, and a gentle optimism is starting to coarse through a chap's veins.  Either that or coffee.

Tennis tonight, and having played a few times in Wales, I am very much looking forward to playing.  I hope to give the little yellow darlings a right royal pummelling.

On other news, work is going along quite well, and my mind is still continuing to think about "new challenges" within the seemingly vast Starfleet empire.  The problem I have is one of indecision, in that I am not really sure what I want to do next.  A change is on the cards though, so I shall persevere with the kicks up the backside in search of the new thing, and will keep you posted.

Apparently, it has been raining.  Having worked at home Monday and Tuesday, and in the office today, I can't say as I really noticed.  This situation does not seem to be the same for other people in my locale, indeed two areas in West Sussex I know quite well were under water, and not just a large puddle, but full-on proper flooding.  Not at all the kind of summer I had envisaged.

I hope you have sufficient water for your scotch, but not so much it ruins the cricket.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Some positive thinking for a rainy day . . . maybe

Savage Chickens - Break the Cycle

Savage Chickens - Life Is Grim

Savage Chickens - Life Sucks

Savage Chickens - The Optimist

First day back

This is my first day back to work.  For me, the first day is about getting on top of my inbox and getting back in to the saddle so that I have, at the least, a good appreciation of all that has happened whilst I was away (which is only 3 days for goodness sake) and a good sense of the things that will be taking my time and attention for this week.

The first part of this painful process is to get to my inbox, to replicate all the emails awaiting me down to my local machine, and wading through the probably hundreds of emails, weeding out the dross, to leave the nuggets of interest and those emails which will need actioning.  Some colleagues do this on the Sunday before they return, and I can see why they might want to do this, but I have a different approach, driven by two principles; the first principle being that I have chosen to maintain a little bit of work/life balance (although I did like Gorse Fox's comments on this) and so don't want work leaking in to the last of my time off.  The second principle is that I like to have the gentle ease-in to work that getting on top of my inbox allows me, and there is still a bit of a view amongst colleagues that "he is first day back, so drowning in his inbox", so it can give you a chance to ease in with a bit of latitude given you by colleagues.  The downside to this latter principle is of course that you get a week (or three days in this case) of activity descending upon you in an hour or two, and that can be quite an intense experience.

Anyhow, that is how the Scobi likes to manage such situations.  Implicit in this activity is, of course, to run your email program so that you can access your email.  This is where the plan has crumbled today.  I upgraded a week or two ago, and have been happily using said upgraded program for a good few days prior to my break, but that was obviously been down whilst I have only snoozed my machine each night.  Now that I am doing a full reboot of my machine*, it seems that my email program is not loading.  Sure, it gives signs that it is loading, reaching around 80% on the time bar on the front screen, but just as it reaches that point, it jumps back to 10% loading, and has repeated this half a dozen times.  The Scobi is not known for his deeply technical nature, indeed he gets proper tech support from Golfy at any time when he plans to delve in to the tech market, and more than that, the only people who seek tech support from him are people who really don't know much**.  Having said all that, I am pretty sure something is wrong.  In the good old days, when I did do tech support for a living (of sorts), we had CTRL-ALT-DEL as the cure all, the paracetamol of PC problems, but these days all that does is brings up a Windows menu, so I am now re-installing the software, just to try and overcome the issue.  If that fails, I am facing the undesirable prospect of going in to the local Starfleet office, or maybe even ringing the Helpdesk, which previous experience suggests is like sticking your fingers in a live socket and being surprised that you get an electric shock, but needs must, necessity is the mother-wotsit of invention and all that.

The other unintended symptom of this situation is that you have a lot of time on your hands, waiting for the installation, which is humongous, to complete.  This gives a chap plenty of time to write his blog, to check his internet email, and to generally get very frustrated knowing all that is likely waiting for him, if only he could get logged in.

Having seen the news over the last couple of days, it does seem that we got out of Wales just in time.  When we were leaving, mid-Wales was in trouble, but today I heard about Penally, which is just down the road from where we were staying, is also being flooded out.  I know of this place because of a sign we saw every time we passed the location, which said "Penally Army Base".  On first reading, and second if truth be told, my brain was thinking this was some kind of penal base for naughty soldiers, indeed LO had the same thought, and only when we then entered a village called Penally did I start to consider that maybe the Welsh had not yet descended in to social engineering by putting the little-bit-naughty people in their own village.  I guess they use council estates like the rest of the kingdom.

Finally, I want to mention the football.  There have been a few unexpected results thus far, and tonight England plays its first game against France.  It has been noticeable how little build up there has been for this tournament.  I remember eight years ago during the European finals, when we had a Spanish student staying with us, the lovely Natalie, and she and her friends were amazed and delighted by the force of feeling for the beautiful game, with flags in every window and on nearly every car.  The atmosphere was electric, and when Spain dropped out she and her friends became tournament-long England supporters.

This time round, there seems to be no such build up.  I am not seeing any great number of flags, at least not St George's flags,  and things do seem really flat.  It may be to do with the tennis and the Olympics and maybe other things as well, but whatever we finally confirm are the reasons, things are a little flat.  And maybe, just maybe, this might be in England's favour.  At the least, the disappointment when we drop out may be much less of a drop, because we are falling from a lesser height, and at best our lower expectations might just create an atmosphere that enable our team to shine.

You may call me a sucker tomorrow, but I think we may just nick a win from the French tonight.  I certainly know that I shall be finishing at or before 5pm tonight, whatever the state of my email.

I hope your day goes well.

* something I like to do every week or so, and always when I am first back from time off
** like his mother, for example

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I'm back

Full report tomorrow, but I thought I would just check in and let you know I am back.  Having spent a week in South Wales, travelling back on on Friday, it is fair to say that we had some weather.  Bridges being closed to high-sided vehicles and all the madness that generates, plus six hours "in the saddle" being the most of it.

Nice to see some sun yesterday, and comforting to be back to soggy normal today.

Friday, 1 June 2012

And . . . relax

The week before a week off is always busy, because you are trying to tie up all the loose ends, plan handovers and all that stuff you need to do to try and not leave a big mess.

We are off to Wales tomorrow, Pembroke to be precise, with surf boards and wetsuits and wellies and shorts and sun screen and waterproofs.  In short, sufficient stuff to cover every eventuality that Wales can throw at you, especially the bit of Wales that faces the Atlantic.

The surfing, I have been reliably informed by an expert, is tremendous where we are going.  Now before you start building images of twenty metre rip curls and a brave surfer moving through the tunnel of water, we are talking, hopefully, 1m waves and boogie boards.  This will still test the talents of Team Scobi, but will hopefully be great fun.  Having wetsuits will really help, not least so that we will actually venture in to the water.

The van is currently on the drive, and while two people did stop on the way back from the pub for a burger, otherwise it has not drawn any negative attention.  It is all but packed, the van and car are washed, the food is bought, the bbq loaded, and all in all we are pretty much ready to go.

During our absence, our drive will be used by the local band (Nigel from round the corner) as their stage, so even in our absence we will have a presence at the street party.

I hope you have a fantastic long weekend.  Until next time.