Friday, 30 November 2007

Misplaced anger

Most of the shouting I did at the TV last night was not directed at players misplacing passes or Spurs' defensive ineptitude. Instead I reserved my biggest frustrations for the 'expert' asides during the commentary by David Pleat. I know he's famous for mispronunciation but last night he stepped up to a new level. Chimbonda and Jenas are not exactly tough names to get to grips with so why does he insist on saying CHIMBUMBA and JAYNAS? And why were they the only players he ever seemed to mention?

Maybe I shouldn't get angry. This guy is obviously not the full shilling. Here are a couple of things he has said in the past:
'He's got a brain under his hair.'
'If there are any managers out there with a bottomless pit, I'm sure that they would be interested in these two Russians.'
'He wasn't really trying to score with that shot.'
'He hits it into the corner of the net as straight as a nut'
'This is a real cat and carrot situation.'
'Eighty per cent of teams who score first in matches go on to win them. But they may draw some. Or occasionally.'

2-0 and they... err...messed it up

Half time and Spurs are 2-0 down to the rank outsiders in their UEFA cup group. Their whole team was free apart from one bloke who cost £100k! Me and the boy watched mouths open as the defence was pulled apart with Dawson playing like he was a Danish 5th columnist. He has had a few bad games of late but after his goal against the irons (rhyming slang permitted here) on Sunday I thought his confidence might have had a bit of a boost. Granted, there was no Rocha or Kaboul to fill King's long empty boots nor even towering Gardner's giant shiny head to lumber about alongside Dawson. Chimbonda stepped in somewhat reluctantly and Lee played out right. He was particularly poor and Ramos was right to take him off at half time. I hope that his post match debrief included something on the lines of 'Ole, Juande say you play malo. Donde the hell were you? Vamos a showers si?' Failing that I hope Poyet was allowed to boot his arse. The switch around and substitutions had an immediate impact. I still maintained my usual pessimism even when we went 3-2 up but the difference was very clear. Huddelstone had an immediate impact and the shift of Zakora to a sweeping role just in front of the 3 man defensive wholly pregnable Maginot line stopped the Danes from having any real solid chances. Spurs mucked about at the end, giving the ball away and flailing at the ball so that shots hit the corner flag and the opponents regained possession. However, I think this was a deliberate tactic to remind us of from whence we have come. A two goal margin would have meant I could have gone to the toilet or forced the boy to make me some tea. As it was we sat there til the final whistle cursing the time slowing device their manager had brought along with him.

latvian cultural tour

Low quality video clips as befits the seedy location, these were taken in some former KGB bunker in Riga a year or so ago. We went down into this basement area on the outskirts of the city and were asked by a Russian in a thick cold war accent: 'you vant fire Uzi? Kalshnikov?' Of course, the temptation was too great: our empathy with Latvian history only recently reinforced with a visit to the museum of the Soviet occupation dissapated as the urge to get hold of very dangerous looking weapons took hold. The AK47 was surprisingly easy to get to grips with; all my bullets hit the target. The Uzi was less successful. 25 rounds in 2.5 seconds led to only a couple of hits. The only nod to safety was the ear protectors and the fact that we had to use the stock on the Uzi rather than spraying from the hip LA style.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007


in response to claims that this blog has degenrated into a lazy collection of less than pithy comment, images and videos I'm posting this clip from the well know quiz for the erudite.
Thanks S for spotting this though why you'd even understand why it is worthy of note shocks me.


Click on the picture to see it animated.

The joke that goes with this is about how this represents a woman's mind whilst men only have two balls that they ever worry about. What I like though is the Where's Wally intricacy of it. It's an exec toy for the digital age; I could look at it for hours.

Monday, 26 November 2007


My pledge to eat more green stuff isn't working. Despite their best efforts, the smiles on the faces of these barely edible lumps of spud just depress me. My girl said I had to eat though so I obliged. It's not that I have food issues or anything but I have had a day and a bit and got in at half 9 and couldn't really be arsed to cook owt. (Aye, the dialect's contagious)

In fact the more I look at them, the more I get the sense that these are not happy faces at all but 'grimacing awkwardly' faces. They're embarrased about their high salt and sugar content and, frankly, are hoping that I get at least a little something from the beans and fish. Although one of them is giving mea bit of a look in this picture. I ate that bastard first.

Philharmonic in Liverpool (the pub not the music)

Attracted by the promise of the only grade 1 listed toilets in a pub in the country, this pub didn't disappoint. I managed to take a couple of photos: the warmth of the decor was reflected in the blokes that didn't beat me to a pulp for being a weird southerner. They smiled at the camera instead whilst washing their gnarled scouse hands. I had been a bit surprised by the brusqueness of some of the people I had spoken to but this pub (and later in the somewhat more downmarket and undecorative Ye Crack [there's not a joke anyone could do that hasn't been done already is my guess] where John Lennon used to drink with his first wife) buoyed my spirits and re-assured my inate sense of the 'right' kind of liverpudlian stereotype.

Sorry about the brackets. Am a bit tired.


Auschwitz Birkenau + snow

These pictures feel somehow so much more haunting and dramatic- felt shockingly guilty when I realised that I was 'enjoying' the harshness of the cold and the aesthetic effect of the snow. When I was here in the summer I was surprised by the colour, especially at Auschwitz 1- there were trees and grass and it was hard to reconcile what was in front of my eyes with the reality of 60 years ago. Birkenau still had the scale and austerity about it even in the sun. Classic images of both are monochrome so I guess it was always going to be difficult to perceive it in colour for the first time. As one of the kids on the trip said: 'you forget that they had colour in the olden days.' This time though appreciation of the severity that nature layered on top of that imposed by the SS was that much easier to grasp.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Straight outta...

Must get one of these caps. No-one would mess with me. I know this is sposed to be a nails district and these chaps go around killing each other using hoes or hoods or something but somehow this look doesn't strike fear. Maybe the pink one would scare me; but only if I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror when I was bending down to pick up the soap in the prison shower.

Friday, 23 November 2007

English Class

I am teaching some pretty dry stuff next week about learning theories. I thought I'd spice things up a little with a few video clips from which my students need to establish which of the theories are being applied. In this Japanese video designed to support English language learning I am finding it hard to identify exactly which principles drove the designers. Nevertheless I can see a lot of potential and may yet apply this technique to this very module. Bikinis on! And everyone...1,2,3...'Cognitivism emphasises principles over facts, cognitivism emphasises principles over facts'

Monday, 19 November 2007

Role reversal

“Look, I told you it would be cold and you should wear a thick coat and a hat so I don’t want to hear any more of your complaints.”
“Look, you are shattered, why don’t you just accept it and go to bed?”
“Can you stop playing with that a minute and get ready.”
“I told you that you’d need to sleep late if you went to bed late.”
“Can you PLEASE get out of the kitchen before I spill boiling gravy over you.”

Yep, had mum and partner up this weekend to stay. It doesn’t matter how much other people warn you, looking after parents is a 24/7 job.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Memory trigger

Not the original but a heck of a cover and...much more importantly my girl loves this. Reminds her of a nice time. Better to have this in our heads than duh duh de le de du le de der de (that circus music)

Friday, 16 November 2007

Vorsprung Durch Technic

My son made this when he got his phone last year. When I was a boy we had flick books.

Kung Shite

This is one of my boy's favourite videos.

I Hope You Like Pain - The most amazing videos are a click away

Lessons from Auschwitz visit photos

Click on the picture to go to the gallery

So unfair

My boy was selected to represent his school in a regional chemistry competition this week. I checked: he wasn't lying and they do exist. I was very proud of this achievement. He was a little gutted afterwards because his team came third. "The winning teams cheated," he said.
"How? My God!" I shouted, "that's outrageous." I planned my complaint letter to the chemistry authorities when the boy said: "Yeah, they chose all the intelligent kids from their schools."

Arsenal fans

Just to prove they're not all mindless idiots. Read here
Not sure I agree with the article writer's conclusion though I have to say I feel discomfort with the whole 'yid' thing. I shall continue to ponder. Maybe we should go back to the days when the typical shout was "Come on you Lillywhites!"

Thursday, 15 November 2007


I had to go to merseyside yesterday. I was expecting the city of culture to look a little less tatty I have to say. I was last there in the early eighties and the bit I saw didn't look like it had changed that much. The radio tower and the area around Lime Street are grotty and the buildings are grubby despite echoes of former grandeur.

What appealed to me though was that Knotty Ash is actually a place. Until yesterday I thought it was a place made up by Ken Dodd. I nearly crashed when I saw this sign. I also nearly crashed again when I attempted to take this photo.

you'll be a man my son

There are moments in a young man's life that are defining. These may or may not tally with the moments that his parents hold on to as defining ones but I hope that when my boy looks back he'll identify his first curry house ruby as one that stands out. This is the moment that he tucked in. The boy who claimed not to like curry only a few months ago is now keen to repeat the experience. It won't be long before he's travelling the path towards 'ring of fire' as he orders ever hotter dishes in order to impress his mates or some bonnie northern lass. I remember my first curry. It was in the Star of India in Sawbridgeworth. I think I was a little awestruck by the coloured lights and tasteful water feature in the centre of the room cos I mistook the hot flannels as some kind of free exotic dessert.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

My head is the wrong shape

I learnt this in a 'microteach' session last night from one of the hairdressing students. He was doing his bit about how it is important to take head shape into account when helping punters decide on which style would suit them best. This is fair enough and it was a revealing and interesting session. However, he made it clear that anything but an oval face is undesirable. Apparently I have a round face and am a bit jowly which means that I should have big hair on top apparently. The other students took it quite well, especially those that were deemed to be blockheads because they have square or oblong.

I was OK till I got home and started to think about a weird eugenic experiment our science teacher did once where we all had to line up according to head size. I was right at the big end of the line. Of course teasing ensued and I can't say what aspect of the curriculum we were addressing either.It was worse for Andrew 'pinhead' Jones* mind you. This memory and the whole head shape thing has got me paranoid. Already I stand behind people I am being photographed with, especially if they seem a bit on the small headed side. I'm now going to have to take shape into consideration. Big hair on top is just not an option.

It's hard to believe I had a fight with a kid when I was about 8 because his head was too big. I guess I am being punished according to my crime.

When my son was first born we took him to an elderly relative's house. Everyone else had been doing the cooing and aaahing that you expect but this woman came up and said: 'eeh, ain't he got a nice shaped head though.' Needless to say the 'though' disturbed me for weeks. After that she didn't say anything about the boy but she did go into the kitchen and re-appear moments later with a dustbin bag full of packets of stale crisps from her nephew's shop from which we were allowed to choose our own packet. I had salt and vinegar.

* name changed because a) I am more sensitive than my colleague and b) I can't remember the pea head's name.

spurs 4 wigan 0

Worth watching for the Brazilian style passing that led to a near miss by Jenas. Of course I am not getting carried away but compared to some of the abject performances I have seen this season, this certainly lifted the spirits. Just seeing Berba smile (and do the baby celebration thing) would have been enough.


dammit dammit dammit. I just typed a really long post about science and stuff and I lost it. the window has gone along with the inspiration. It had something to do with sulphuric acid.

Monday, 12 November 2007

Without wanting to seem trivial...

Spurs won 4-0
Jenas had a good game
Berbatov looked interested
We didn't concede
We put some sweet passes together (notice the use of 'we' rather than 'they' there, like I was somehow responsible and deserving of credit)

Of course I and S and the boy had to give up our tickets because of my work. The whole lot of us are starting to look like seriously unlucky mascots (that's not the right word I know). If Ramos gets wind of this he'll be preventing us from taking up our seats at the next game. If Jol hears about it, he might have a case for compensation from us. We are sorry.

"I saw a Mountain"

I saw a mountain higher than Mt. Blanc
And more holy than the Mountain of Sinai
Not in a dream. It was real.
On this world this mountain stood,
Such a mountain I saw--of Jewish shoes in Majdanek.
Such a mountain--such a mountain I saw.
And suddenly, a strange thing happened…
The mountain moved…
And the thousands of shoes arranged themselves
By size--by pairs--and in rows--and moved.
Hear! Hear the march.
Hear the shuffle of shoes left behind--that which Remained.
From small, from large, from each and every one.
Make way for the rows--for the pairs--
For the generations—for the years.
The shoe army--it moves and moves.
"We are the shoes, we are the last witnesses.
We are the shoes from grandchildren and grandfathers,
From Prague, Paris, and Amsterdam,
And because we are only made of stuff and leather
And not of blood and flesh, each one of us avoided the hellfire.
We shoes--that used to go strolling in the market
Or with the bride and groom the chuppah
We shoes from simple Jews, from butchers and Carpenters
From crocheted booties of babies just beginning to walk and go
On happy occasions, weddings and even until the time
Of giving birth, to a dance, to exciting places in life…
Or quietly--to a funeral.
Unceasingly we go. We tramp.
The hangman never had the chance to snatch us into his
Sack of loot--now we go to him.
Let everyone hear the steps, which flow as tears,
The steps that measure out the judgment."
I saw a mountain
Higher than Mt. Blanc
And more holy then the Mountain of Sinai.

Moshe Shulstein.
This was used in the plenary session after our recent visit to Auschwitz. If there's one thing that haunts me more than anything, it's one particular child's shoe amongst the thousands that you can see. I can see it in my head still.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Lessons from Auschwitz

Along with the sixth formers we took to Poland on Tuesday there were a number of 'VIPs' including schools minister, Jim Knight, and several journalists. Here's an extract from one of the articles. This one is from the TES.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Teen Spirit

Despite repeated media frenzies about ASBO collecting hooded youths prowling the streets of Britain and common reinforcing oft-repeated complaints on the lines of:

  • young people have no respect
  • the youth of today don't know how lucky they are
  • I never had X, Y or Z in my day
  • kids are so rude
  • this sentence is too damn long and complex

I was proud of the kids that we took to Poland on Tuesday: Two hundred 17-18 year olds on planes & coaches and on their feet for much of the day in sub zero temperatures and driving rain. Of course you'd expect anyone visiting Auschwitz to be decorous but that wasn't my experience when I was there before. Some of the American visitors were the most noticable; complaining about the toilets and the lack of refreshments available in the camp and totally oblivious to the irony at the heart of their complaints. In their defence, maybe I only noticed the Americans because I could understand what they were saying. Perhaps there's a World wide irony reduction agreement that the UK have decided to abstain from.

It didn't take long for these young people to make the link between their own discomfort and the relative inconsequence of it when compared to the people they were learning about. These weren't a bunch of posh kids either: many of them were 'proper cockney' kids from the most deprived areas of London. They asked intelligent questions and listened intently to their guides. Some (re-assuringly) reverted to type on the plane on the way home but must were subdued and reflective. It's a shame that our common perceptions can't be redressed a little somehow. I know mine have by being a part of this but I also know that stories about young people making us proud don't sell papers.

Monday, 5 November 2007

World view

The little world map that I linked to in mid Oct tells me that 225 different IP addresses have found their way to this blog. I'm guessing that for most people it's just an unlucky accident: 'Mon dieu, what iz zees 'North and South', I av come to ze wrong place'.

Actually, the likelihood of anyone uttering the above, especially in allo allo English is virtually zero as most of the hits are from the UK. I like the idea of people randomly happening upon me; I do the same by clicking 'next blog' from time to time. Too often I get some dodgy porno blog which ruins the whole thing but I can get totally engrossed in what my boy would almost certainly call 'random err stuff'.

The best thing about the world map though is that it shows me that at least 1 person from Greece and another from Poland has, at least for the briefest of moments, had my blog on their screens. The best one though is that little dot right in the middle of Brazil. No doubt this is a long lost tribe using crystal skulls to access the outside world's data in readiness for the return of Eric von Daniken's Space gods. Or something.

(The actual link and map are in the column on the right)

Boro 1, Juan de la Cruz Ramos Cano's blue and white army 1

New manager.
Radical team selection.
Dressing room shake up.
New life.
New hope.

Same result.
Surprise surprise, the less than mighty Spurs take the lead then lose it again and only get one point. Middlesborough was eerily sunny as we drove in on Saturday. My boy was telling me as we drove in that it is rated as one of (if not THE) bleakest town's in the UK. Best mate, who is from that neck of the woods confirmed that it's famous for its permanent grey, industrial fug.

Already I have forgotten much of the game except our big named boss' decision to drop Berba and Keane to the bench and Bent's well taken goal. We still showed defensive frailty but Dawson looked more commanding and the back line was a heck of a lot straighter than at Newcastle. Midfield still lacking something; not least a spark from Jenas. Nevertheless, Lennon was lively with his mincing little runs down the right and Malbranque was penetrative until he went limp in the second half.

Like last year, there was something sad about the empty seats in the ground. Especially sad was the fact that the most noise in the ground (apart from the Spurs fans) was from a cluster of about 100 kids in little red Boro caps. They squaked 'Red army' throughout the second half. I thought the Spurs response of 'Your support is f*****g s**t' was mean and wholly uncalled for. 'Your support is jolly young' would have been more in keeping with the age profile and mood.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Sis Army!

As you can see, my sister felt the long arm of the law even before she got into WHL on Sunday. She said: ' The law does indeed have a long arm but that holds no long term interest for me. At best a short arm will do. Or no arm at all.'

A week is a long time in football (I hope) Blackburn prediction was cruelly misjudged though, thank the lord of football, I got the Carling Cup right. Took my sis to the Blackburn game. It was her first ever game and she cried when the players came out. To prove to her nephew that she did know about football she helpfully outlined her version of the basic rules in the car on the way up:

' One team tries to get the ball in the goal and the goal player catches it then the other team have a go. Some players aren't allowed to score I think. Oh...and the referee isn't allowed to kick it.'

I'm not joking about this either. Despite this woeful ignorance she enjoyed it immensely which is a real shame because she's clearly an unlucky mascot and we're not taking her again.

Going to Boro tomorrow...

Juande we will win again (that is not a prediction)