Sunday, 30 September 2007

Carling Cup Draw (w/b Oct 29th)

My predictions in brackets:

Luton v Everton (2-3)
Portsmouth v Blackburn (3-1)
Chelsea v Leicester (1-1, Leicester win replay)
Sheffield Utd v Arsenal (0-1, flukey goal goes in off ref's arse in 91st min. Sheff Utd have four perfectly good goals disallowed. Everyone bangs on about how great Arses' kids are. I puke)
Bolton v Manchester City (0-2)
Coventry v West Ham (2-2, Irons scrape through in replay)
Liverpool v Cardiff (5-0, too easy for 'pool)

Public prayer: If I get one right, please let it be Spurs' result. Failing that, a stonking for the arrogant SOBs from the Emirates at the hands of Sheffield would compensate quite well, thank you.

How not to deal with problems

It strikes me that I and (probably) the rest of the world utilise a number of coping strategies when confronted with difficulties in their lives. People who appear carefree do no doubt have problems but I guess they confront their problems in a way that I have yet to discover. These are the various ways that I have sought to cope with things over the last [ahem] years. Rather than exemplify these with personal things I have tried to draw comparisons with Spurs’ current malaise.

- bury it under the carpet and hope it goes away. All that I’m left with is a carpet with a huge lump in the middle of it that’s so big I can’t even get my Hoover over it, let alone ensure it is clean. Of course if I did illustrate this one with one of my problems then I wouldn’t be able to keep it under the carpet. I’d have a slightly less lumpy rug but it’d be out there: acknowledged and demanding resolution. Thinking about that makes my head spin almost to the point of it being something that I could label a problem. Martin Jol says all the Spurs strikers are competing on an equal footing for their places in the starting line up. He denies that there is a rift between him and Jermaine Defoe. His nice guy status means that we can only take him on his word which means that this is a classic case of denial. Where will it end up? No doubt one or the other of them will no longer be in the employ of Spurs. The most likely scenario is that JD ends up at Everton or Aston Villa and puts three past Robinson in his first game against his old club. This, of course, is an unsatisfactory resolution. 30,000 voices chanting ‘Jermaine Defoe, he’s a yiddo’ seem incapable of encouraging the big man to even accept that he has a carpet, let alone accept that there’s anything underneath it. (I think that taking analogies too far is another problem for me but luckily I don’t errr…brush that one etc. etc.)

Putting it into a global perspective- This is the classic that we learn from our parents and swear we will never impose on our own offspring: “ It could be worse”, “People are starving in Africa”, “Worse things happen at sea”. It may be that perspective is everything but it really does only work from the outside. Any kind of physical or emotional attachment to the problem and an attempt to put it into the wider picture does not, as is anticipated, make you realise the relative insignificance of your problem; all it does is leave you with a bitter self loathing on the lines of “ God, look at me, I’m getting in a stew about this, how pathetic am I?” Spurs, for example, are languishing in 18th position in the Premier league. The ‘glass-is-half-full’ types may well argue that this makes them the 18th best club in the country at this moment in time. They may remind me that for two years running we have been fifth best. They may try to argue that since the Premier league is one of the best in the world that this actually makes Spurs one of the World’s top clubs. They will also implore me to consider the plight of Notts Forest or Leeds (actually that does make me feel a bit better). Ultimately though I’m left feeling like a spoilt brat a) because, yeah, it is only football and a lot of teams have it a lot worse and b) it still really, really matters.

Talking to someone about it but not really- this is my favourite. I get to pretend that I am being mature and sensible by saying ‘yes, x and y are troubling me; these things make me feel a, b and c.” This may be the way in to those intense counselling sessions you read about or see Tony Soprano engage in, but it’s nothing more than a limp parody. Nothing is resolved. By ‘getting it off my chest’ I have merely shifted the discomfort from heart to brain. By sharing it I have not halved it; at worst I have doubled it by making someone else stress about me. Martin Jol does this every week on Match of the Day. He hints to Spurs supporters that he is aware of a defensive frailty or an issue with strikers scoring goals. We wait for him to go deeper, to explore the realistic and perhaps revolutionary remedy but what does he do? He goes with the same line up and shares the problem again the following week.

Blame someone else. I don’t have referees to blame but I do shout at people who don’t deserve it when I do something wrong. I think it goes without saying that this is ultimately self destructive. Having said that, Sunderland’s goal on the first day of the season was clearly over time and we should definitely have had a penalty against the Arses to put us two up etc etc….

Here’s one problem I am willing to come clean about: I have boring work to do. Instead I have typed this. Engaging in displacement activity makes my stomach churn with anxiety. Phew, that feels better, and I guess a lot of people have it worse and, anyway, it’s not my fault this work is so boring…

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Martin Jol no longer loves me

Bolton 1 Spurs 1. Just got back from the game. Son and I agree that Jol has gone too far leaving out Defoe. The love affair may be over. I am not happy. Also Jenas is rubbish.

Play oop Shaymen

Took the boy to see Halifax Town yesterday. We did actually go out to see Bradford City but somehow we misread the fixtures and it turned out they were playing away. They lost to Hereford (4-2) so maybe it's just a s well. Anyway, we went to the Shay to see a team that evoked a lot of memories: When I was at school I had a certain affection for Halifax because it was either them or Crewe that sought re-election at the end of each season. When we played football after school, I usually said I was Halifax because I knew I was likely to lose and didn't want that associated with Spurs. We stood on the terraces at the Shay with 1,362 other people and paid 15 quid for the pleasure. This seems (relatively) pricey when compared to White Hart Lane (where I can see a third rate opposition play Spurs' fourth rate team for 29 quid). The main thing, of course, is that I enjoyed it and so did the boy. Rushden and Diamonds sent a loyal away following of about 30 (you can just see them in this picture). The best thing though (apart from their goalie who made some fine saves despite being about 65) was the way all the players clumped in areas of the pitch. This shot shows how they all massed in one quarter of the pitch when the Halifax Town keeper hoofed the ball up the pitch. The game ended 1-1. Town had led from a well struck free kick in the first half but were pulled back from the penalty spot in the last minute. this was a very dodgy decision to say the least and the manager let the ref know in no uncertain terms at the end of the game. This was also amusing.

Hair cut

Within about two weeks of getting a hair cut I am already fed up with the way my hair has grown back. It doesn't grow uniformly and it is fuzzy and lumpy if I don't moderate its waywardness with gel or soap (I used butter once when I couldn't find anything else). I suppose I shouldn't complain being as the signs of receding and thinning are there for all to see; especially my son who points it out whenever he can. On Friday I finished work early and drove home round the edge of Bradford looking for a barber's. I saw the common red/white shop fascia and spiral sign before I could read the words 'Men's hairdresser' on the window. I guessed that the shop was run by people whose first language wasn't English because the shop was called ' Top Men!'. (and it was in the heart of an almost entirely Pakistani area of Bradford.) None of your crummy cut/trim/hair plays on words there, just a slightly unusual choice of phrasing with a hint of campness about it. It reminds me of the fags you can buy in Brazil. Even the really shitty ones are called things that are supposed to resonate of European (especially English) sophistication but all too often they get it slightly wrong so you end up smoking fags called 'Brighton' or ' Buckingham Palace'.

Anyway, I went in and waited a bit till the barber had finished some other guy's hair. Eventually I went and sat in the chair while the barber fiddled around a bit. He looked nervous actually and it wasn't long before I realised it was because he hardly spoke any English and, presumably, wasn't used to non Pakistani clients. He grinned at my reflection in the mirror and asked :'Haircut?' I smiled and replied: 'err no, two pounds of potatoes please.' He looked totally bemused, not least because he knew the word potatoes but didn't really get the rest of the sentence. I decided that stupid jokes were going to get me nowhere and tried to explain what I wanted. He nodded enthusiastically throughout my explanation but it was clear that it was a bit of an effort. In the end he just cut a bit off, put my glasses back on my face, showed me and said 'cut more?' to which I replied 'Yes.' We continued like that til I got (roughly) what I wanted. It's as good as pretty much any cut I have had recently. I asked him how much and he said '£3.50' I couldn't believe it: I gave him a 2 quid tip and was still 5 quid better off than if I'd had it done at my regular place in London.

Afterwards I did worry that maybe the only price he could say in English was £3.50 but dismissed this. I will definitely go there again.

(By the way, I waffled a bit here so that I wouldn't have to see that diabolical picture of Berbatov when I logged on.)

Friday, 21 September 2007

Guess who

Believe it or not that's the one and only - not-trying-very-hard-and-resting-on-his-laurels Dimitar Berbatov. How gay is that photo?

Thursday, 20 September 2007

6-1 to Spurs 1-0 to Ball boy

Good win, good goals and Defoe and Bent on the scoresheet. Please Martin, let Defoe have a run out on Sunday. Alongside Zokora's usual comedy shots, the most amusing moment of the match was on you tube before the game ended:Ball boy indeed.

Adeus Jose

Jose managed to get up a lot of people's noses since he started at Chelski. I think the worst he said of Spurs though was that we had parked the team bus in front of the goal when we managed to squeeze a draw out at Stamford Bridge. Maybe Jol took that comment to heart and leaves the bus in the car park these days because we seem to be leaking goals like Bon Accord. My favourite Jose moment was when he had a go at Wenger for being a peeping Tom. These are his words:

"Wenger has a real problem with us and I think he is what you call in England a voyeur. He is someone who likes to watch other people. There are some guys who, when they are at home, have this big telescope to look into the homes of other people and see what is happening. Wenger must be one of them - and it is a sickness."

Shocking, for sure but a whole lot more articulate than the Spurs chant to Wenger : 'Sit down you Paedophile'. it's a wonder Wenger doesn't try to sue the entire crowd after a derby game at WHL. Mourinho will no doubt be missed by Chelski fans; some of them have already said to me 'good riddance', 'he wasn't going anywhere this season with us.' But, as we all know, they are sick to their stomachs. So soon the glory days are over. How long before they are just like Spurs again? Not long I think.


Just as I was about put my audacious plan to steal the crown jewels into action and, on the way, stab a few old ladies whilst doing an evil laugh, I saw this sign. It spoke to me in a way no person has ever been able to. So THANK YOU anonymous sign writer; I, the Queen, and several old ladies will forever be in your debt.
Now, if only someone were to quickly put up a sign about the wickedness of split infinitives then this sentence might read better.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Balloon Sofa

I have found myself becoming quite jaded over the last few years when it comes to ice breakers, team building exercises and warmers. Of course, people who are new to a group need to get to know their colleagues but some of the painful games and activities I have been press ganged into facilitating still make me wince when I think about them years down the line. The cheesiest one is the ‘ball of truth’ that people have to throw around a room or the ‘untangle the knot’ game where wool is passed through people’s legs. My view has always been that if it makes even one person in the group feel uneasy on their first day then the wrong activity has been chosen. When I am the master of my own ice breaking destiny, I always go for something simple with room for people to say a lot or a little and with a guarantee that all will speak.

So… it was with some trepidation that I ventured to a colleague’s room to help police his ‘make a sofa out of balloons’ team building activity. I could feel myself tensing up at the thought of burly blokes (there are several, all outspoken, in this group) giving it ‘What the bloody ‘ell do you want us to do that for?’

But…man, it was excellent. Not only did they laugh but they learnt a lot about the importance of following instructions to the letter, mechanisms for collaboration and economies of scale and, in fact, optimum design for a balloon sofa that will support the weight of a human for 30 seconds. I admit that I didn’t think it’d work but for two of the three groups it did. The one group where it didn’t work were at a slight disadvantage as they didn’t have a ‘lighter’ member of the group to be the person to sit on the chair.

I also learned that from time to time I need to stop being so damned cynical and give things a chance. Apart from that I had a shit day cos I still have a headache that started yesterday and it’s my girl’s birthday and we’re on different sides of the country.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Teacher Training

There I was planning a class on managing behaviour and I find that it's already been done for me. 50 years ago! Now that I have watched this I realise that there are several things I must do myself and recommend to all my trainee teachers:

-get suited up. That teacher looks the business.
-make students wear tanktops with diamond shapes on them and other nerdy clothes. Even if they flick stuff at each other we can mock their sartorial inelegance.
-give mutiple detentions: 'seven detentions!'
-recognise that when someone blows their nose it's a sympton of the whole group's disaffection.
-sit students in rows.
-use mother's cooking to illustrate things that need explaining.

This teacher training lark is a cinch. I demand a pay cut.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Brown Derby

This is how we both felt yesterday after the match. I can't really bring myself to say anything else. I know why footy managers are mocked for their cliches though, cos I really am 'gutted' and 'sick as a parrot Brian'.

Saturday, 8 September 2007


Although pretty, you have to wonder about a place where they still openly sell gollywogs and people form queues to buy gingerbread. I knew when we got there that the locals suspected me and the boy of harbouring independent or (worse) liberal thoughts. We managed to escape but I swear I caught a glimpse of a flaming torch weilding mob in my rear view mirror chanting "burn 'em, they be witches!"

I am no megalomaniac...

...but this picture my boy took of me is cool. Shortly after this was taken I smote some sinners.

Big Business

Only follow the link if you are into Spurs or business. Or both. It makes a compelling case and for me is quite depressing


Not only are they reduced from £4.99 to the unbeatable price of just 99p but they're also 'Extra'. I spent ages wondering about that adjective. Did it apply to the 'poo' or the 'bags'? Either way I struggled to figure why it might be extra. My boy spotted this at a service station. As I filled up the car I noticed him tapping frantically on the window. I thought he wanted some pop or sweets so I was ignoring him. When I realised he was pointing out this sign I swelled with pride. It's always satisfying to realise his sense of humour is so similar to mine.

Yellow sky @ Tescos

Determined to challenge my propensity for beige food, I spent some time in Tescos on Monday night buying green things for my fridge. When I came out the sky was bright yellow in parts as shown in these photos. I haven't manipulated these at all, it really was this colour. I think, though, that my awe (for this was genuinely awesome) may be a consequence of my previous southern isolationism. I mentioned it to people at work and they said "Aye, t'sky's reet colourful this time o' t'year." or words to that effect. At risk of sounding soft and flowery, I thought it was beautiful.

They may not know much about how to serve peas up here but they sure as hell do a damn good spectacular sky.


Despite a dodgy ref, a penalty that never was and the sending off of the Spurs' captain, the lillywhites still manage a victory at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Regrettably, karma doesn't seem to work like that in the Premiership. The refs and penalties are all there but the last minute winners, as the world knows, are disallowed even when they're obviously over the line. This clip from Kes just about says it all in terms of PE in the 70s. The cold, the sadistic teacher, the aimlessness of the activity and the humiliation of selection all ring true for me. I am grateful that my boy doesn't moan about all those things; in fact he says his PE teacher is 'awesome'. Though our dinner the other night was awesome. And it was awesome that I poured him some lemonade. I too was full of awe.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

just when you think...

I was looking forward to today. I picked up my PC last night and it works. They've mucked around with the settings of course and I think they've messed up my video card but at least it's usable. The guy who's fixing my laptop here at work says I'll have that back today too. So I thought I'd be all positive and bubbly here but... I put 'north and south' and 'blog' into a google search to find this page but I didn't get me. I got this bloke. At 8.30 am. Now my day is ruined.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Big Bread

My boy has grown so much. He's taller than his grandparents and not far off me now. The best thing at the moment though is that squeaky voice thing- it's all deep and manly, resonating from beneath his as yet unshaven moustache when suddenly it goes all high pitched like the kid on the Simpsons that works in the fast food outlet(s).

The picture below was only take a few years ago but he was so small then the loaf of bread he had was as big as his body. It was big bread mind you. (the distortion is intended by the way though if you'd assumed I had a crap camera in those days you'd have been correct )

that nagging feeling

Me and S and best mate and (sometimes boy) play 'Weakest Link' in a popular national paper every Saturday. There are at least two questions every week where I know the answer but can't quite dredge it up from the silty slushpool that is my long term memory.

The nagging 'tip of my tongue' sensation I get then is almost identical to the feeling I had the other day when I had to follow someone down the longest corridor in the world, over a bridge and then along the second longest corridor in the world. She didn't say much and made me quite nervous so I kept saying stupid things. They were the sort of things that most polite people would acknowledge with a 'hmmm' or that exhaling thing people do by puffing a blast of air out of their nostrils when something doesn't really merit even a fake 'ha!' If I recall, most of what I was blithering on about had something to do with wheeling old people around and bashing them into the walls of the corridor so I don't blame her really. All the way down I had a deja vu, familiarity sensation that wouldn't go away.

About 15 minutes ago in THE meeting from hell it just came to me. It was the way she walked. The rhythm and pace and the movement of her shoulders was identical to the butler in Chigley. You can see what I mean here:

That's not embedding for me but I am working on a very old laptop- if it doesn't play, try the link