Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Go Large

Prince Charles has not come off well after his comments about MacFranchise. Some reports are saying who is he to comment. I actually think he is well placed. Unlike politicians he will not be making laws and he is not influenced by the thought of whether or not a comment will get him extra votes. He comments on what he sees, and he does care.

MacF have come back by talking about the range of foods they offer and the carrots and fruit. Now, if you ever want a lesson in cynical marketing they get the gold star, if not arch. The interesting question is how many carrot sticks are sold to kids. People don't go there for fruit. And it isn't actually the healthy/non-healthy thing that gets me anyway. It is the fact that the food is just plain bad, as in poor. It further acts in the dumbing down of the nations taste buds and understanding of food.
Well said Charles, keep up the good work.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Well that was an interesting moment. There I was, happily hunting in the fridge for mushrooms (chicken and banana curry tonight) and I spotted the bottle of Ame was leaking (if you don't know, Ame is "a refreshing fruit drink with sparkling spring water"). "I will just tighten the cap" I thought. Are you keeping up with me here? So I gently turned it. And I really am not sure exactly what happened next. All I do know is that one second I was warm and dry, then there was a bang, and then both myself and the walls were dripping sticky, red, and cold liquid.

Ready Steady Go

This whole traffic light discussion for food really annoys me. This is eating, lite. When did we get to the point that we needed little colours on food to tell us what we should be eating? The human race has survived for thousands of years, do we really need guidance now? Of course, it really indicates how disconnected we have become from our food (as well as a nanny culture). How many people really understand how food is produced or even, in many cases, how to cook it? What is needed isn't traffic lights, but to educate people properly. Get people onto farms, let them see what goes into producing food, get them to understand that it doesn't have to come in tins or plastic wrapping.

There are few foods that are inherently bad. It is the quantities that are the problem. We need a balanced diet. Traffic light systems do not tell us that. In fact they imply that food is bad, even dangerous (after all that is what red is used for as a signal). We don't normally use red like this. Does a red traffic light (a real one) mean it is less wise to proceed? No, it means stop or there is a high possibility you will be killed. Does "Red Alert" mean it's just a good idea not to nod off at the moment? And this inappropriate labelling (what is the difference between a red labelled food and a red labelled poison) leads to further dumbing down and even less understanding about food.

In or Out

Gordon Brown was off doing a thing to try and make it appear that he should be popular. So he is suggesting that immigrants should do community service (apart from sounding as though we are trying to make them feel like criminals, is this really something we would expect from a Labour politician?). This was done at a focus group kind of thing so he could then go around and ask the attendees what they thought of his wheeze (this really does seem a weird way to come up with new policies).
Anyway, Radio 4 interviewed some of those there to find out how they felt about it all. And they had this woman who ranted on about how we were too leniant, that it was too easy to get into Britain, we were too leniant, that we should be like Australia and only let in those with a trade, we were too leniant, there were too may immigrants and, did I say, that we were too leniant. She rounded this up by saying "oh, and we are too tolerant" (my italics). I think she may just have discovered the meaning of irony.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I see Tesco has come in for another bashing today. Now the Tesco story is a complicated one to say the least. Especially when we consider producers. The question of the effects on local shops and the killing of the high street is also a bit of a chicken and egg , and maybe I will tackle that another time.

But Tesco is a British success, and as ever, we hate a success when it's British. After all, success isn't what we are about.

So they are being knocked because of the sports equipment for schools vouchers. A school would have to get the parents to spend a million pounds in order to get the top of the range, state of the art, trampoline. But that isn't actually the point. The point is that Tesco give things away when they don't have to. They do support the community and the schools. Yes they could give more, but they could also give less. They are a business. Of course it isn't completely altruistic, it's marketing, but they have never claimed any different.

If we are going to argue about the rights and wrongs of Tesco, let's not make it over the fact that they do give things away. So they haven't given away the best trampoline. £12 million of sports equipment to schools last year should still be a cause for celebration.

What Big Teeth You Have

I just want to take a moment to backtrack to Saturday and the trip to London. Because a few of you, having seen that we didn't get "A" to bed until 2200hrs, may have thought we had a quiet trip back. There is a key fact that you need to know about my daughter however. If there is even the remotest possibility that closing her eyes might mean she would miss something then she won't do it. So, despite having walked almost the whole day, despite having had ballet in the morning, despite the fact that it was well past her bedtime, the train journey back was not a quiet one. I am not sure what the other passengers thought about a grown man creeping down the carriage aisle pretending to be a wolf, but it possibly wasn't one of my most dignified moments. Although dancing to "Bring Me Sunshine" was my idea I must admit.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Post Secret

You will see I have added a new link, PostSecret. If you haven't visited it then please do so, and make a habit of visiting it as well, every Sunday when it gets updated. Post Secret is an on-going community project and people send in home made postcards anonymously. People use it to open up secrets that they would never dare tell anyone. Sad, funny, innane, mysterious. So many different turns of life. So many ways to make you think about your own.


The reason I missed the games yesterday was because of a sudden decision to take George to London and the Natural History Museum. The things I do for my daughter, sacrifices made etc (or, considering the scores, maybe I should be thanking her). So we hopped on a train and headed down. I think it a bit unfair of George to hog the sandwiches when we are giving him a treat. Fashion Week may not have been the best time for a spontaneous visit to London but we battled through the crowds.

I think the favourite part for "A" was the human biology. I admit to speeding through the reproduction section (call me chicken, I don't care, just not ready for that yet). But there were plenty of interactive things to keep her interested. The scientist in me started coming out, possibly explaining the workings of cells to a 4 year old is aiming high, but she nodded in the right places (which may just mean she has learned to humour me).

This is as close as George was allowed to the T. rex. I did think that we could get him better placed so it looked as though he was being eaten, but this was not greeted with quite the level of popularity I was hoping for. The dinosaur section was suddenly cut short by the realisation that we had lost "A"s coat. No finger of blame to be pointed but it wasn't "A" or me. So we retraced our steps to no avail. Luckily "Lost Property" turned up trumps.

Finished with a meal at Carluccio's next to South Kensington station. Recommended. Very good italian food at a price that I would consider reasonable even if I wasn't in London. And they had grappa (interestingly I can remember the restaurant and the meal when I first had grappa almost perfectly, but I can't remember the girlfriend who was sitting opposite me at the time {and obviously if she is reading this I have just shortened my life expectancy considerably}). Finally got "A" to bed at 2200 hrs.

Six Nations

It looks as though I have to resign myself to the fact that this will be the worse Six Nations series for a long time. The only team that I wanted Scotland to lose to seems likely to be the only one that they will beat.

Ireland 43 England 13

Scotland 17 Italy 97

France 32 Wales 21

I didn't get to see the matches - more of that later - so not much comment. Scotland gave Italy such a head start, 3 tries in the first 10 minutes, that it was always going to be a struggle. For Wales it was different, they were ahead 3-14 at one point. It just seems that Wales have lost the vision to win and play to just under the capability of the opponent. As far as the England result, that was expected.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dance, Dance

I don't want to brag but..... Something has obviously changed in ballet that I don't know about. The last few times we have seen "A" performing I can't say she was the most graceful of the class. However, today she came out clutching George. No, she doesn't have a boyfriend. George is a teddy bear, and the best in class gets to take him home for the week. His adventures during the week are then written in a diary, often accompanied by photos. In fact one week a parent tried to up the ante completely by sending him back with home made cakes. No-one rose to the challenge. Anyway, the reason I say something has changed is because this is the second time in four lessons that "A" has had George. Seems like she might be becoming a teachers pet!

Friday, February 23, 2007


I very rapidly realised today was not going to be a good day. Exactly when it happened was as I pulled into work at 0755 hrs. I usually aim to get to work for 0800 hrs as it means I miss the worst of the traffic. So you may think all was well. Ah. At exactly that moment I realised that I had left my computer at home! Many rude words used, luckily windows closed. And that, basically ladies and gentlemen, set the tone for the day.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Raise Your Glasses

So you know, and to avoid keeping you hanging in suspense, it was a wonderful evening tonight and the toast went well. And I fired it properly as well, which is a bit more of a challenge. I will do the toast at every meeting for the forthcoming year now, which shouldn't be too bad as I have learnt it. All that's left is to learn the Masters work and the Janitors work. I was wondering why I got bumped up to Janitor. I started talking to the person who should have had the collar and then realised the reason he had turned it down was because he is Master of his Lodge this year. A sensible person would then start wondering why he thought it too much to take on when I blithely accepted the challenge.

Me Sir!

So the Telegraph today published an article saying that the biggest weakness with the current government was their unwillingness to accept responsibility or to apologise. Are you surprised? They have had pavlovian conditioning that shows if they don't apologise they keep getting re-elected. Not accepting responsibility has worked so well for them, why should they change their habits now? An abject failure by the media and by the voting populace has lead us to the point where they think they can do what they want.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Challenged in parliament today on the fact that the war in Iraq was a catalogue of errors, Blairs response seemed to be that it was not him who brought terror to our isles but the terrorists. Oh, I thought we had got past the fact that Iraq was the base of terrorism and WMD. His own little world, disappearing in his own little whorls.
EDIT: And as part of the same exchange "We must not apologise for our values". And which values would those be then Tone, a man who would sell his grandmother if he thought there were votes in it.

Bump Up

For the coming year in Chapter (a side degree of freemasonry) I was expecting to be the senior steward. I was quite looking forward to it. Arranging the meals and booking everyone in actually makes a good opportunity to learn who everyone is whcih, for someone like me who isn't all that good fitting names to faces, is very important. But last night I got a phone call asking if I would be willing to be Janitor. Well, it's another step up, and never one to turn down an opportunity I agreed. Tonight was a rehearsal. At the end I was told that I had to give the final toast on the night of the meeting. In some ways that is wonderful. It is a lovely toast, known in the Craft as the Tylers Toast, and I think it very special. I thought it would be a long time until I had an opportunity to give it. So why only wonderful in some ways? Well, the Chapter meeting is tomorrow night so I have less than 24 hours to learn it (which possibly leads to the next question of why am I posting here instead of revising).


So many times
We've been so close,
So many times
So far apart.
Times our hearts have touched,
Times our thoughts have chasmed.
Lips warming,
Words cooling.
Driving us apart.
So much alike
So different by the minute.
Wanting needing avoiding.
Unable to find the final piece,
Jigsaw hidden,
Under the chair.

Junk Mail

Just read the last paragraph to understand why I will never think computers dumb again.


Home is now feeling like an episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (for those of you in the know then you will soon understand, for those still unclear then you must learn to listen to the funniest radio series ever). In trying to work out whether my turntable is playing at the correct tempo or not, I now sound as though I am competing in "Pick Up Song". I start playing a favoured song and then fade out the turntable BUT I KEEP SINGING only to fade the turntable back in and see where I am in relation to the LP. The theory is that I can keep better time than the turntable. Some of you may spot a flaw in the logic.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


There are times when I will be completely spur of the moment. There are other times I will just bog myself down in minutiae. And much to my annoyance, I am in the second of those options right now. So I got the turntable, great. I got it set up, great. I have demonstrated I can convert my LPs on to my ipod, great. But I really am completely bogged down and can't start converting everything. Why? Because the turntable pitch can be altered by +/- 10% and I really can't decide if it should be set at -2%. Why put on a variable control if you don't add anything to be able to check speed? Does -2% sound right? Does it sound more natural? Is it playing a little fast when at 0? My old turntable had a strobe thing so you could make sure it was correct. Not on this though. Otherwise such a good piece of equipment. But until I have decided then I can't start transferring things over. And this annoys me even more as I know I am being retentive. But I also know that every time I play a converted track on my ipod I will be listening to it wondering if the pitch is just right unless I sort it.

And Now For the Science Bit

There is a lot said about climate change and is it really happening. One area that doesn't get mentioned is the increase of tropical diseases in more temperate climates.

The meeting I attended yesterday was about Bluetongue, a disease of ruminants which is posing an ever increasing risk to the UK (I was very tempted to use a picture of a child with a blue tongue but then people would think it could be caught by humans, it can't, strictly ruminants). Bluetongue used to be a disease seen south of the mediterranean. In the 40 years prior to 1997 it only made two incusions into southern Europe. Since then it has made 12 incursions, 5 of them last year. And these incursions are getting further north, with Holland, France and Germany all affected.

It is the "why" that is of interest. Bluetongue is a vector borne disease, it cannot pass directly from one animal to another but needs a midge to transmit it. The main midge able to carry the disease was one that didn't live in Europe so there was no way the disease could spread. Two things have changed. The particular species of midge, Culicoides imicola, can now be found further north than ever before, thus carrying the disease further. But, even more interesting, the species of Culicoides in Northern Europe is changing. The higher temperatures have altered the little blighters at a cellular level and they are now able to carry the virus because it can cross their gut membrane. Climate change means that this virus can travel further in more species vectors than ever before.

Monday, February 19, 2007


So excited. New toy arrived today. Some people may have realised by now that I am a bit of a gadget geek. I love new bits of equipment. Well, I have enjoyed having my ipod and it has given music a new life for me, but I now hanker after my old albums. It would cost a lot to buy them all again though. So today I got a USB turntable. I can now transfer all my LPs and 12" singles onto the computer. Yeah. I had forgotten the intricacies of turntables however. I had forgotten the fine tuning to get the stylus arm correctly balanced, then the minor alterations to speed to get the timing right. I don't think "J" could quite understand why I was playing a clip of music on itunes to get the beat and then playing it on the turntable to see if the speed was perfect.

Oh, hours of fun.

{NOTE TO SELF - What I shouldn't admit here is that the song I am playing over and over to get the timing right is Abba's "Knowing Me, Knowing You", don't want Agnetha singing too quickly}.


Before I get slated (you know who you are) this is not actually about the minimum wage per se, but an interesting loophole in calculation.

Butlins are being made to repay workers who were charged for utilities when on site. The deductions made took them below the mimimum wage and so were illegal. The reason I find this interesting is because the workers were living on site. Had a similar worker been paid the same amount but been living off site then they would have had to pay for utilities but Butlins would not have been responsible and officially Butlins would still have been paying the correct wage. So, for offering accommodation and discounted utilities Butlins have actually been fined. Seems strange to me.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Beep Beep, Beep Beep, Yeah

Now I would be one of the first to say our roads are overloaded and too busy. After all, I spend half my time driving and it is not a pleasant experience, especially compared to countries like France or Belgium. But is road charging the answer?

It would be simpler if there were decent options. But I spend days trying to work out whether to drive, fly or train it to the more distant parts of our country. The plane may seem the best option at first glance but, even ignoring possible environment damage, when closely examined becomes less attractive. The time spent queuing, getting through passport control, security checks etc soon mean any theoretical benefit is lost. Trains also may seem good on paper, plenty of time to work and do other things. But then consider that trying to get connections is a nightmare because of delays, even in first class people end up standing, the tables do not have enough room for computer and papers, and you are captive to the dubious delights of train food, and suddenly this also becomes less attractive. Cars allow me to control my own time, to carry the bags, digital projector, screen etc that I need to take, and get them to where I want to be. OK, I can't work while travelling but at least I can get from one meeting to the next when I am in a different city.

And let's not forget our families are becoming more and more displaced. To find work peole move further and further afield. Tebbit talked about getting on your bike, but once you are there how do you keep in touch with your family. How do you get grandparents to look after the child, what do you do when someone goes into hospital, how do you support ageing parents?

Who will suffer most from road charging? It won't be the rich, they will pay anyway. To be honest it won't be employees, work will pay for me to do my job whatever. No, the poor will suffer as they become even more tied to a crumbling public service system. And business will suffer as companies are driven to countries which are cheaper to work from.

But don't listen to us Tony. That would break the habit of a lifetime. Instead just tell us we are too feable to think for ourselves. Send us an email to tell us you know better. Thanks Tony.

Oh Huuuyyyy

Either my driving or my cooking is worse than I thought. We went out to a local park today. On the way back made a detour or two. When we got home "J" announced that she was feeling sick and retired to bed. So I don't know if it was the journey or the thought of breaded chicken!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Miss Slippy

And what I hate about going away. I get to miss moments, moments like the first time skating.


It wasn't a bad trip to Edinburgh. I stayed in Corstorphine at a Holiday Inn that I have used before. It is an interesting hotel as it is right next to the zoo. Unfortunately I got the room with a view, I prefer the ones without the view. The reason there is no view is because they face into the zoo. And it is wonderful being woken by the lions in the morning (obviously not lions knocking on the door and bringing in tea and toast, that would be slightly scarey).

The weird thing for me about going to Edinburgh is that every so often I stumble across a memory. Although I was at Glasgow Uni, I spent a reasonable amount of time in Edinburgh. After the meeting on Thursday I decided to walk back to the hotel. The walk took a bit longer than I expected as some idiot dumped a steep hill in the middle of the walk (and to think every weekend I used to go off and do a Munro). But as I was walking along I saw a sign to St Margarets College, and in an instant I was taken back 18 years to a girlfriend I once had briefly there (obviously I mean she was my girlfriend only briefly, not that I had her briefly, I was too innocent for that in those days). Passers-by may have wondered why a big smile suddenly spread across my face.


Sometimes you just have to wonder where children get their influences from. This morning "A" and I sat down for breakfast. Generally "A"s attitude to food is that she will eat almost anything but she doesn't eat a lot of it. However, this morning, she decided she wanted to finish her toast before I finished mine. About half way through she suddenly put her toast down, clasped her hands together, screwed her eyes shut, and said "Dear God, thank you for big mouthfuls".

Friday, February 16, 2007


To touch those lips,
Feel your warmth,
Slide down soft skin,
Just once,
Only once,
Would be like an alcoholic
And the first sip
Of whisky.
Warming the throat,
Then devouring,
Consuming in heat
Until all that remains,
The one focus,
The centre of life,
Is more.
Each drink
A further step
Into heaven and oblivion.


I must be a really c**p person to live with. I have been away three days. I get back at 1900 hrs. "J" is f*****g well asleep by 2130 hrs. I am so tired of this. Doesn't exactly make the future look great. Empty.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Para Handy Tales" by Neil Munro

Neil Munro first wrote about Para Handy and his crew in 1931. Para Handy is the captain of a puffer, "The Vital Spark", which travels around the Western Isles carrying cargo of coal and the like. Para Handy is very proud of his little boat and feels it should be destined for better things. This is a collection of (very) short stories, each only taking 5 minutes or so to read, but each bringing a smile to the face. It is a gentle humour and reflects the lifestyle of these men. Their attempts to find a wife, the pranks they play on each other, the plans to make a bit extra on the side. You do need to get through everything being written in a thick scottish brawl, but it is worth it. In many ways it could be described as a pleasant read, and that is meant in a good way. The world needs characters like these.

"If Dougie was here himsel' he would tell you".

Health and Welfare

I am up in Scotland for a couple of meetings. I have to give credit to the work being done up here for animal health and welfare. Scotland is really leading the way. I am very impressed with the Scottish Executive for seeing the importance of a good strategy, but the drive from the SSPCA and the Scottish BHS is wonderful. There is a real desire to move forward but to do so in a pragmatic way. As a vet in practice it used to be very frustrating being involved in cases where animals were not being kept properly but the law couldn't do anything. New codes of conduct will really help with this.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cracked Hearts

You are welcome to call me cynical but this really is quite a c**p day. A ridiculous amount of money gets spent on flowers, chocolates and lingerie, but I wonder how much of it is real? How much is people who think that one gesture on one day will cover them for the year, how many people trying to cover the cracks, how many people sad tonight because they didn't receive anything, how many cry themselves to sleep, how many lost, how many trying to get back what is lost, how many false hopes that they can get back what once was, how many wishing for something that can never be, or wishing for something that was?

Ready to Go

Another trip up to Scotland. After a lot of internal debate I finally elected on the train again. It has the advantage that I can work while travelling. Of course it has the disadvantage that I am on a train! But, ignoring that, I don't know if you have been on a train recently and used the toilet. I remember the good old days when you had a bolt to lock it. Not now. Now it is all buttons and electrics. The thing is, and this is a big thing, there are actually three buttons - open, close and, most importantly, LOCK. Unfortunately there is a design fault. The fault is that the close button is lit as you enter the cubicle, making it obvious enough. But once you have pressed it there is nothing else indicating it needs pressing, leading to an assumption that the door is both closed and locked. You only notice the lock button once you are sitting down. There is then a moment of panic as you realise if anyone outside presses the "open" button then you may be revealed to all and sundry in your utmost glory. If you are lucky enough that no-one does open the door you still have to cope with a shuffle across the cubicle without tripping over the trousers around your ankles.

Monday, February 12, 2007


It seems a good moment to explain a bit about masonry. Especially in light of having been asked what we are and what is the point of Freemasonry.

Freemasonry probably has a different point to different people. You get out of it what you put in. Maybe to start with I should explain what convinced me to join. One evening I went to a "Ladies Night". A nice night of good food and drink, dinner jackets and ball gowns. it was very enjoyable. But that wouldn't have made me join. However I was struck by the fact that all these people were gathered together and it didn't matter what religion they followed or the colour of their skin, they were all brothers. I tire of seeing religion getting between people, I am convinced that is not what God wants. These people did not judge each other by what each believed but actually welcomed the diversity. I really believe that I haven't seen that often. In one moment I decided that these were good men and that I wanted to be a part of it.

Freemasons believe in a divine being but we allow each other to have our own understanding of that being, we do not impose. However that belief makes us strive to be better people. We try to live moral lives. We use stories in order to create guidance and hopefully to make us think of our fellow man more.
We raise money for charity. We raise a lot, and not just for masonic charities. We help people who are worse off than ourselves, again not just masons. Some is close to home, £5,000 given to Carlisle after flooding, some further away, over £850,000 given to support the work after the tsunami. Becoming a mason made me raise myself, I should still give more, but I give more than I used to.

What we also are is a group of people who like to get together, have some food and drink, and discuss the cricket, or digital cameras, or places we have visited. And often we involve wives and girlfriends.

I know I am never alone as a mason. Anywhere I go in the country I can find a masonic meeting, and they will welcome me for the evening and look after me. They need to know no more than the fact that I am a mason and I am accepted.


The conservatory is so nearly finished. The men have been around to fix the snags. Or almost all of them. The skirting is in place, window replaced, frame mended. So nearly all. What is left. Well, around the door from the ex-dining room into the conservatory they haven't fitted beading. They are now saying that they don't do beading. Which would be fine if only they hadn't done it on the door from the conservatory to outside. Both the doors are identical. I'll show you. Look at the pictures. First door without beading:

Then door with:

In fact, looking at it, I think that there is a bit missing from the second door as well, but there is definitely beading running down the side. You can see it. You are my witnesses (would you mind a trip to court on my behalf, no, good). I cannot believe that we should be able to see screws and chalk marks.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Making a Stand

Boots will now allow men to buy Viagra over the counter. I do note it says men, so many women are going to remain disappointed, even though the launch is planned for Valentines (now, allow women to buy the tablets for their men and then you HAVE got clever marketing). 4 tablets only, for the cost of £50, so dinner may be off the menu then.

They estimate that only 1 in 10 men who may benefit are actually being treated. I am trying to get my head around the fact that some marketeer thinks men will be more willing to walk in off the street, go up to someone they don't know and start discussing intimate details, than to speak to their own doctor. Gives a new meaning to something for the weekend (actually maybe they could do starter packs, 4 tablets and 4 condoms as a special offer).

Light Up

So Cameron may, or may not have, had drugs while he was at school and/or uni. I can't believe the amount of press this is getting. He was a kid, get over it. I would be reasonably sure most of us did things as teenagers which we look back on and wish we hadn't done. It isn't as though he took us into an illegal war (oh no, that's the other guy, the one people keep voting for). I am sure that the reason people feel outraged is because it manages to raise the fact he went to Eton and then people think "elitist". It really does not matter one iota whether or not he indulged. It has no impact on his ability to lead a country. In fact, we could think that maybe he is more qualified to talk about the horrors of drugs as he actually might have some experience and not be talking from an ivory tower.

One Day Final - Sydney

This is definitely turning into a strange weekend for sport. After England struggling against Italy and Wales loosing to Scotland in the rugby, the focus now shifts to cricket. And a team which, two weeks ago, was on its knees and lucky to get into the finals manages to win the second match in a row so that the finals don't even need to go to the third match. Of course the weather and the Duckworth-Lewis system may have helped but that doesn't change the fact they won. Ther last few matches have rested squarely on the shoulders of the few, and Collingwood has risen to the moment. Plunkett has also come on wonderfully.

I hope they don't go into the World Cup thinking they are better than they really are. They are going to need some hard graft from here on.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Scotland 21 Wales 9

I really did not expect to be posting this. After last weeks performance I thought Wales would be fine. But the forwards crumbled. The line out was attrocious, the scrum struggled. Scotland ended up with over 70% of the possession. In fact it bodes badly for Scotland that they weren't able to turn such dominance into tries. All the points in this match were penalties.

Too disappointing, I can't say any more.


Clear night
Moon shine
Star crisp
Nothing moves
Dreams fly
Reaching high
Entwine lovers
Across miles

Clear night
Moon shine
Star crisp
Nothing moves
Dreams falter
Wings lost
To earth

Friday, February 09, 2007


As he watched the driftwood
Floating by
He thought of reaching out.
So simple to save
Hand clenched.
Until a speck.

One Day Finals - Melbourne

I heard the words "collapse" and "Australia" in the same sentence today. By the end of the Aussie 50 overs it was looking good. They had folded. Then England started off badly. 3 wickets for 15 runs in the first 5 overs or so. It looked as though England were going to bottle it. But wait. This doesn't seem to be the same team that we have been seeing for the last two months. Collingwood pulled it out of the bag, with some help from a good supporting cast.

Matter of Priorities

This may say something about me. There have been two "celebrity" deaths today that I am aware of. The moment I heard of Ian Richardson dying I knew who that was. I am still trying to work out who Anna Nicole Smith is! I couldn't even remember her name for this blog (I had to search "death" in the celebrity section). No-one at work believed me but even looking at her picture doesn't ring any bells.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow Zone

I battled my way in to work today, refusing to be overwhelmed by the snow. I suspect "J" is sick to death of hearing me say things like - "this isn't snow, when I was young we had real snow", "I don't understand it, we have less snow now and cars are better, yet the whole country still grinds to a halt", "why is everyone acting so surprised, it's winter, can't we expect snow", "I had driving lessons in snow worse than this" etc.

So while "A" had the day off ("what, because of this, we got through snow drifts ten times this deep in order to get to school" which got the reply "well your parents were just cruel then") I went to work. The drive that normally takes 25 minutes took just under two hours. This threw my day enough that when someone asked if I was going to lunch I turned around and said "what do you mean, bit early, it's only just gone ten" before I realised that the morning had, in fact, disappeared.

Of course, while I was working, some people had better things to do.

A Different Kind of Service

I know I should resist this. I really do. But I can't.

Today was V day. Richard Branson has decided to branch out further and will now provide a media service. This is on top of what was previously known as "three-play", ie broadband, mobile and landline. They have decided to call the new service "quad-play" as a slight departure of nomenclature.

You can see their point. The image they want may not be that you can now pay a virgin to give you fourplay.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Gosh, but shares are slippery little things. I suspect that I probably shouldn't buy any at all, and I would be the first to admit that I just dabble, not investing enough to make it worth while. But things take my fancy and I decide it might be worth a punt. I only look at the relatively small companies so that I can actually buy more than one share! Anyway, why slippery. Well about a month ago I was interested in Oxford Biomedica and I set a buy order in the evening. I set it slightly lower than the finishing price as I felt that they would probably dip first before going up. I was wrong and didn't get any. So I raised my price again but still below the end of day price. Again missed them. I kept the same logic going for two weeks until I gave up and bought them at the end of day price. Had I originally not planned on a drop then I would have made money. So last week I had my eye on two more companies, Allergy Therapeutics and GW Pharmaceuticals. Again on the first day I set my buy order slightly below the end of day price in the hope that they would drop. They didn't, but rather than play cat and mouse I just decided to bite the bullet and raise my offer to the end of day price. So I bought them and the price then dropped. I think there may be a touch of irony there somewhere.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Another Hunt

One of my international colleagues has a blog. He has promised me a pint if I can find it. I think he even dropped a hint when he mentioned a recent excursion to dental wonderland. So if anyone comes across a blog, based in Holland and describing a nightmare at the dentist, please let me know.

One Day Match

England finally seem to be bringing it together. All a bit late for this tour but maybe the World Cup doesn't look so dire. But the bowlers have a lot of work to do. They nearly give the game away with so many no balls. It must be difficult batting as well as you can, posting a good(ish) score then in the first two overs see 22 runs given away to your opposition. At the moment it is ahrd to know if winning was a good thing though. Three more matches against Australia could break this team.

The Cornish Trilogy - Robertson Davies

Davies weaves his way through the characters, linking them together through one man, a man who is dead. Gypsies, monks, teachers and priests all come together in a complicated tangle. At times sad but always with a sense of humour. It is a philosophical work in many ways, looking deeply into how people are motivated. A priest who cannot but help turn to a gypsy to have his cards read. A monk who cannot find peace within himself without a drastic and chaotic act. A young girl torn between her childhood and her future. And as the books develop so do the characters.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl

To be honest I don't follow American Football and I can't really tell you anything about the game. The only reason I am blogging this is because of the radio this morning. Now, I am willing to admit I probably wasn't fully awake as I drove in to work. So I was surprised to hear that the Coltas had won and this was the first time there had been a winning "black haired coach". I started thinking that this was a statistical impossibility, there must have been black haired coaches before. Then I realised that what had actually been said was "black Head Coach".

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Six Nations - First Weekend

The first weekend of the 2007 Six Nations is over. How was it?

Well, the two games on Saturday were nothing special. In both matches there was a completely dominant team and there was no doubt after the first 10 minutes who was going to win. I think the only thing to comment on is Jonny Wilkinson. I was one of the skeptics who felt that picking someone who had only played about 3 hours competitive rugby in the last 3 years was dodgy to say the least. It certainly does not send a good message to the other players that England could call on. I felt that Jonny was being picked as a mascot. I still think he was a mascot but, my, he was a mascot that was worth his weight in gold, he pulled the best out of his team.

Then todays match. Wales vs Ireland. History shows that Ireland travel well to Cardiff. I have seen them live there a number of times and it is always the same. But what a good match. Wales played the more exciting and more exhilarating game. The result so nearly could have been different. Some very poor decisions against Wales didn't help, but not worth complaining about as, on another day, the decisions will go the other way. We just weren't able to capitalise on position. Sadly Czekaj was outclassed, he looked confused by the speed of the game unfolding around him. And it was fast, relentless throughout, even in the last minutes. The welsh gamble for a heavy pack didn't pay off, Ireland kept them at bay, but Peel put constant pressure on the irish and didn't let their forwards ever start to dominate. Wales are stunning to watch, showing the ability to think ahead and make a running game but are just let down by too many errors. Had Wales had just one more secure back, such as Shane Williams, Gavin Henson or Gareth Thomas, this would have been a very different story and I believe Ireland can consider themselves lucky that their aspirations have got off to a secure, if not strong, start.

A Different Hunt

After our brunch we went for a walk to try and feel a bit more righteous (and I don't need to be told how far we would have to walk in order to get rid of what we had just gained). We went to one of the local woods. "A" was running ahead when she suddenly announced that she had found treasure. She waved a plastic bag in our general direction and happily called out that there was something in it. Now, I will simply say that a lot of people take their dogs and then leave it to your imagination what the treasure might have been!

Food Hunt

What a disaster. We don't have anything in the house for breakfast. We are just going to have to go out to Buddies for a brunch. Of course none of us want to, it is only out of neccessity.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Aggreed, Agreed, Agreed

The last 24 hours saw a quick trip down to Cardiff. This morning I had a meeting to present my preferred list of officers for the forthcoming year to the past masters. I am pleased to say that my choices were accepted so now I have to send out letters formally asking my choices to accept. In addition I presented my ideas for adding a little something to the festive board. My idea seemed to go down well and was in keeping with the lodge, I just have to do the fine tuning to turn it from an idea into a reality. I am especially grateful to those who were willing to turn out on a Saturday for a meeting at rather short notice.