Friday, 29 February 2008


The thing about Spurs fans is they are articulate, intelligent, they can sing, they know the words to songs and they are good looking. Oh, hang on a minute...

Wednesday, 27 February 2008


I have just read that Juande Ramos: "is reputed to avoid using the telephone on the day of a game, puts his right foot first on to the turf before each match and would have avoided touching or looking at the Carling Cup until it was won or lost at Wembley on Sunday."

I'm glad these things affect the elite as well. My boy has taken to wearing several layers of Spurs shirts in a particular order at each match. Lucky we don't play in the height of summer. He also has a flag that's lucky for goals and one that ensures we win. I had to take that one to Wembley on Sunday and take a picture of it to send to him.

I used to have a lucky scarf that I'd had since I was a boy. In those days you got boys' scarves so this one barely went round my neck. it was moth eaten and had been chewed by my dog and I used to trail it out of the window of the car on the way to a game. One day a couple of seasons ago it worked its way loose and was in some puddle somewhere by the time I'd noticed. Once I got over the trauma of realising that all future defeats would be my sole responsibility, I decided to buy a similar scarf. This one, though, is thicker and hotter. It's a right pain actually but I still have to take it to games.

My girl (why doesn't this surprise me?) had a cup cake on Sunday while watching the match. She rolled and rolled the wrapper in her hand until it resembled a small rabbit dropping. This wasn't deliberate; it was just one of those nervous things you do. Apparently it was down to this 'lucky poo' that we won and this now has to be handled on the occasion of each game.

All the talk in the press about Ramos' genius is a nonsense. So long as no-one phones him and we have poo and scarves and multiple shirts all in the right order, we can't fail to keep on winning.

Exam answers

There are some great maths ones on this site. I was looking for some daft things that students have done so that i could give them to my students so that they could role play giving effective feedback. Instead i spent all afternoon laughing and not getting much done. This one is my favourite:

If you can't read it, it's about kittens and chromosones and asks a very complicated (to me) question about what colours you'd expect given a specific set of variables. The answer is: "I would check to see if it had a vagina."

Top marks

Quaking in my boots

I woke up around 1am this morning shaking with the disconcerting sensation of being on a roller coaster. Initially I thought it was a dream but as I came to I realised that it was something real. Once it stopped I went through all the possibilities and, having assessed the room and flat for signs of disruption, decided that something had happened to me. All I could come up with was that i had had some kind of fit. My 'fitful' sleep that followed was anxiety ridden and full of doctors and tests and thoughts of losing my driving license and medication for epilepsy. I told my boy about it this morning and it was only then that he told me about the earthquake. Man, I have never been so relieved to hear about a natural (mini) disaster.

It's funny how our disasters are so puny. We have mini tornadoes, mini floods, snow flurries and now mini earthquakes. If a meteorite ever hits the UK you can be sure it'll only smash the window in some old boy's greenhouse but will still make the 6 o'clock news.

My girl felt the quake too but her educated analysis of it was even more off the wall. She decided that it was someone going to the toilet in her house. I put it to her that her fellow house dwellers must be elephantine or seriously ill for her to draw that conclusion but she loyally disregarded that suggestion. I wonder if our reactions to these things reveals anything about our psyches. My conclusion may well reveal deep rooted pessimism about my own frailties and consiousness of impending doom. Hers seems to reveal a sweeter, more noncholant, non self obsessed acceptance. Either that or she's a doughnut head.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Ossie's dream + Ricky's goals

We were singing this a lot on Sunday. The Top of the Pops performance resonates of more innocent times.


My best mate is more tactile than me. Sometimes when he is off to work on the rigs for a while or we have had a drink and are going our own ways he gives me a hug. I have known him for 21 years so you'd think I'd be comfortable with it by now but I still stiffen perceptibly each time it happens (not in that way). Have I really been conditioned so thoroughly by my 1970s upbringing and stand offish step dad that I will never be able to go with the flow? What made me think about this and what makes it odder is the fact that I hugged and was hugged by a number of rough/ tough blokes I'd never met before on Sunday and can say that I was unquestionably unstiff.

My girl is worse. When she saw the video clip of the final whistle below she even said that she was glad she wasn't at Wembley. Maybe that makes us even more suited. I'll buy her a hermetically sealed bubble ball so that she can roll around our house in it while I, Howard Hughes like, disinfect everything and only receive visitors who have been through a special decontamination chamber.

Carling Cup Final Highlights

Monday, 25 February 2008

Glory Glory

Spurs male voice chior at their most tuneful.

lifting the trophy

Note: The hoards of loyal Chelski fans who stayed behind to clap their players while they were fetching their medals . They haven't gone; it's just that they cunningly disguised themselves as Wembley seats to make it look like they weren't there. And they had special voice mufflers so as not to disturb local elderly people.

Final Whistle

Warning: may contain agitated swearing

No apologies for the shaky camera. I was a bit excited.

ESOL works

One of the highlights for my boy was the interview with Ramos afterwards. Apparently he was asked for a comment and said in immaculate English: " Well, fans and err players very happy." (In a spanish accent)


Of course I have a lot to say but for a ages I'm going to be too tired to properly express how good that victory was yesterday. I was last at Wem-ber-ley 25 years ago. It's good to know it still makes your knees go 'all trembley' not to mention everything else. Anyway, sometimes other people say it a lot better than I can and, as a neutral, present a much stronger case for the deservedness of Spurs win.

Phil Mcnulty at BBC sport says:

Chelsea, the team and their supporters, were subdued throughout and it was only a basic fighting instinct of players such as Petr Cech, John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho that kept them in the game until extra-time.

Didier Zokora should have prevented the need for extra-time, but the anxious wait appeared to make the win even sweeter for the Spurs hordes, who provided the sort of backing their team deserved.

So, what he's saying is that we were the better team and had better fans. I couldn't agree more. Some do though: read full article here:

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Carling Cup final tomorrow

My ticket is in the upper teir in one of the last rows. I think I may have to take a small tv with me in order to see what's going on. Felt very confident all week but now (without wanting to jinx anything) I'm feeling very anxious. There are more important things of course but a little relief and a lot of bragging rights would cheer up a lot of people. After all it's only fair considering all the success Chelski have had in recent years. My son will be watching with his Chelski supporting great grandad and my girl will be at home while her Chelski supporting brother goes to the game. None of this is right. We should all be there. At least if t doesn't go Spurs way we'd be able to avoid the immediate gloating aftermath though. If my son has to suffer my grandad chanting 'Who are ya?' in his face one more time I'm sure he'll be permanently scarred.

When Spurs lost the League Cup (Milk Cup as it was then) in '82 a sizeable proportion of the Spurs crowd chanted 'Stick your milk cup up your arse!' at the end like they didn't care. That sort of thing makes us like Les Arses so I hope we can be gracious in both victory or defeat tomorrow.

Scared? Me?

So, it's the latest Poland trip and just about everything had gone smoothly and all the timings were pretty much bang on. Reasonable weather for the year; time for a visit to Osweicim; no-one got lost; my lunch was nice. Of course, I made this observation BEFORE we landed and sure enough forces beyond those we understand conspired to whip up gale force winds at Leeds-Bradford airport. After one failed landing attempt, screams on the plane, fire engines at the ready and the bumpiest landing ever my fellow passengers broke out into spontaneous applause. I laughed with relief along with others but since then keep going back to it in my head. I felt very fragile; moreso than I normally do. I should have known we would be OK though. There was a Rabbi on the plane.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Gracious in defeat...

... is not a phrase that can be used when talking about the Ar5ena1 team or their boss. They just got well beat up at Man Yoo (4-0 which, by the way, is the same difference as the 5-1 trouncing they suffered equally badly at White Hart Lane a few weeks back. Have I mentioned that before?) and the level of petulance, irritation, diving, moaning and denial about their inferiortiy was, of course, a joy to behold.

Even better was Bransley's result up at Anfield and Bristol Rovers first quarter final in 50 years. That's what this competition is all about. So Spurs are out but I can shout passionately at the TV all the way to Cup Final day. All we need now is for Chelski to be drawn against Man Yoo so that the final will have at least one team I can shout for. A Cardiff/ Barnsley final would be great.

Everyone moans about plumbers

It's easy to moan about things. That's why mechanics, plumbers and the like get a disproportionately bad press. It's 'disproportionate' because a) when you need one something has already gone wrong and this thing is often bad and inconvenient. b) when they come to you there are inevitably costs associated with that travel. c) There is a chance that they will need to buy a part to fix whatever it is that's broken especially if the broken thing is old d) if you're a bloke, there's a nagging sense in the back of your mind that your manhood is being questioned- is your wife/ girlfriend/ special friend thinking filthy thoughts about the hirsuite, oil-smeared skilled person because they can do things with pipes that you can't?

I am here to re-tip the balance a little. A bloke came to my flat today to look at the boiler and a leak. He spent 1 hour 15 mins and only charged me for 1 hour. He didn't charge for parts because he had a 'few bits and pieces spare' in his van. He also showed me how to fix one of the problems myself in the future. And he was a nice bloke. Not so nice that I was thinking things of course.

Monday, 11 February 2008

5-1 song

Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Book Thief

I'm reading 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak. I can see why it has mixed reviews. I'm surprised I didn't read it sooner to be honest. Holocaust, Nazis and a new angle should have grabbed me from day one. I'm not here to write a book review, though I will say that it's quite likely I'll buy a copy for someone. Here are two contrasting views the first of which is a lot closer to my own perceptions:

There are few novels that capture so effectively the reality of everyday life for ordinary Germans during the dark days of the Third Reich. Death tells us the story of Leisel, a ten year old orphaned victim of Nazi intolerance, and her vivid coming-of-age experiences of life in Molching, in a small suburb of Munich, during the first years of the war. Zusak's narrative approach is highly original but leaves us with genuine understanding and sympathy for the real victims of Hitler's war. The characters are colourful, real and so very human that you live through them and ultimately suffer, like Death, their various and frequently tragic fates. It's not a easy book; its love of humanity is edged with suffering, hardship, regret and even hate. Inevitably Death conquers all and takes all away; but it is the human quality of the life experience and the memory of love that ultimately challenges Death in his final journey.

Okay so I was swept up by the hype surrounding this book - international bestseller, five star reviews, and shelves in every bookshop creaking under its weight. So I did what any book lover would do: I bought a copy, I found a quiet corner and I turned to page one. And I can safely say I was bored to tears from the off. Uninspiring prose, tedious narrative and cliché ridden characters are some of the books better qualities. That a novelist can deal with such an enormous event narrated by such an enigmatic character and make it so stultifyingly boring is either the mark of a genius or a fool. But I thought how can so many people be wrong so I persevered: I FINISHED THE BOOK!! And never have I been so disappointed! In the spirit of Death I felt everything looked Grey! Mr. Zusak can I have eight hours of my life back, please!

I'm still 80 or so pages shy of the climax. Can people who know me avoid telling me the outcome of World War II- I don't want to spoil the end.

Friday, 8 February 2008


My boy sometimes says: ' Shut it Poindexter'. He does this in a pleasant way. Not snarling with teenage venom but with a whimsical smile. I always say: 'Where's that from? What does it mean?' Suddenly today I remembered the Internet! I looked it up and it's a reference to a scientist in the old cartoon 'Felix the Cat'. "As a reference to the Felix the Cat character, the term "Poindexter" is now applied to people who are overly nerdy, geeky or bookish." says some nerdy, geeky Wikipedia author.

What I want to know now is how this became part of the whimsical & ephemeral lexicon that is teenager speak. Felix the Cat died a long time ago. Squashed, no doubt, under the wheels of a less innocent, poorly animated Japanese cartoon.


So, Spurs fans everywhere are denying years of tradition by confidently predicting that we'll stuff Chelski in the Carling Cup final and thereby get into next year's UEFA Cup. Seems that the club is less than confident though. Suddenly my child-like hopefulness and eager anticipation has evaporated.

Tottenham Take Intertoto Route Tottenham Hotspur have applied to enter next season's Intertoto Cup in a bid to ensure the club remains in a European competition.

The decision is born from the wayward start Spurs made to the 07/08 season, in which they were expected at the beginning to evolve into serious contenders for a top-four finish, but instead nose-dived towards relegation.
The man in charge of first team affairs during that disastrous time, Martin Jol, was replaced by Juande Ramos in October, who has turned the Londoners’ season around in double-quick time.
Spurs are still in the Uefa Cup and are also due to play Chelsea in the Carling Cup final, but as they lay in a mid-table position at the moment, the decision has been taken to have a fall-back option to enter Europe next season via the Intertoto Cup.

Shit game?

Saw this in Game.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Middle class angst

When I first read this in the 'family forum' section of Saturday's Guradian it made me laugh :

My four-and-a-half-year-old son has been saying that he loves a boy at nursery, and that when he grows up, he's going to marry him. His best friend is a girl, who he spends a lot of time dressing up with. He heard my husband and I talking about a gay friend and asked what gay meant, so I told him. His face lit up and he said, immediately, "I'm going to be gay." Are children his age aware of their sexuality?

Then I did my best incredulous face and shouted: 'WHAT THE...?' What are these people thinking? 4 year olds don't understand things that we would consider as obvious like why they can't have ice cream for tea every day or why watching the same episode of Postman Pat 1,000 times might not be a good idea. How the hell do these people think that this kid can grasp the complexities of social and sexual relationships and understand their own desires within that framework? I liked the idea of being French (who knows why) when I was a kid; I haven't, thankfully, grown up to be a beret wearing onion seller.