Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here, I Want A Word With You

Greenbelt doesn't have a very high level of hierarchy, but there is some. At the top are the FOMs, one of which used to run the Night Security team in the days when I was on it. Chief Tonka generally commands respect (while GB is a safe place, last year a fight really broke out, out of a crowd of around 17000 people the two protagonists managed to be standing next to Chief Tonka which meant that a) they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and b) it was over quicker than it started).

So this year Sweetcorn and Staples were trying to escort some lads off site who didn't have wrist bands. Well, I say escort, it was more shepherding them as the lads were a reasonable way ahead. Sweetcorn was looking for some back up in case the lads tried to leg it. I was actually nearby in the 4WD (did I mention I didn't get it stuck in the helicopter field) but she didn't know I was closing in on the situation. In looking around she saw Chief Tonka. Recognising him, and wanting to call on his skills, she uttered the now legendary lines of "You'll do, come with me". The look on her face ten minutes later when she realised what she had said was priceless.

Beep Beep

In a sense of equality (did I tell you I didn't get stuck in the helicopter field while someone else did?), I feel I have to admit to some car related issues at GB. The first is relatively simple, the 4WD tonkas we use have flashing lights on the top, I don't think I have once managed to get into one of the vehicles for the first time and then not need someone to come and show me where the switch is (thank you Stick).

The second is a bit more embarrassing. Driving around site is quite difficult at times. There are a lot of pedestrians who seem to forget that it is generally a good idea to stay out of the way of cars. Road safety for many seems to go out of the window. The tonkas we have often don't have great all round visibility, they are functional vehicles and the back is usually a hard top with little window. So every year when I start using them I am, shall we say, cautious. To be honest, for the first couple of hours we would probably get places quicker if we were on foot at a brisk walk. After a while I get more comfortable and pick up speed. There was a precipitating factor this year. It wasn't that there was an emergency. No. What made me think that I needed to pick up speed was being overtaken by a golf buggy and then in less than a minute being undertaken by another one.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mud Glorious Mud

Even without being there I am sure you can imagine that camping at Cheltenham racecourse got a bit muddy this year. And the helicopter field was especially so (so much so that a certain leader of the site crew got a 4WD stuck up there, have I mentioned this already, well worth mentioning again, I drove around on a number of occassions with no problem, he had to be towed out). The muddiness was further compounded around the utility points. While GB has come on in many ways since the old pits in the ground for toilets, it still seems strange that the water from the wash areas is allowed straight on to the ground rather than being piped away. Even in a dry year these areas become treachorous. And, by the smell, I suspect some of the portaloos leaking didn't help either.

Anyway, on the last night we had gone up there with one of our teams to sort out a few things. Once sorted it was time to head home. I had parked near a utility point, to make it easier to see the car (fire crew may take some hints here, it helps avoid losing your vehicle). I got in the drivers side. Sweetcorn was on the other side of the roadway, wondering how to make it through the mud (she isn't tall). Rector started his car and came our way. Sweetcorn sensibly stood to the side to let Rector pass. He drove on, but as he did his tyres started slipping in all the mud. There was a revving sound, followed by a splashing sound, then he was gone. Leaving in his wake a Sweetcorn covered from head to foot in mud. I don't think she appreciated my laughing.


I looked out of the window and saw the empty day-glos on the line. I had a moment of sadness.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Fleeting Moment

You know what, I don't think I do badly on TV. The journalist told our PR company that they could put me up live.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Deep Fried Everything

A WHO report released today reveals some quite shocking statistics. While we expect life to be shorter in foreign countries such as Africa, we learn that even in the UK there are major differences. If you live in Calton you can only expect to make it to 54 years old, live just over 10 miles away and you gain almost 30 years.

It is lifestyle, but how much of that is choice. Do people eat deep fried mars bars, take drugs, abuse alcohol out of choice? Is it what they are taught by their parents? Or is it a lack of self-respect because society doesn't let them know that they have value?

I went to university in Glasgow. It would have been easy to go to church in the more respectable areas. In fact, while it wasn't Calton, I used to go to one of the rougher, poorer areas. I didn't do enough there, but at least I saw with my eyes. I met some of the most genuine people it has been my fortune to call friends.

I remain committed to my beliefs because I believe that conservatism is about trying to bring everyone up to the higher level. But, you know what, I don't care what your political background, we have to find a way to all work together to stop this.


One more GB thing then that's it for the night (you cannot begin to imagine the sheer joy of a decent bed and shower again).

GB is very busy for me and I get little time to see what I would like. And I certainly don't get to think about what I don't know. But on Monday I got over to the grandstand early. I needed coffee and something to eat (midday is breakfast when you work our shifts). So I had some biscuits and my coffee and decided to sit on the grandstand steps while I ate and drank. This meant I could here Pete Rollins in Talk 2. And I listened. Wow. Sometimes something hits home. And this did. In many ways he was voicing my beliefs, but managing to paint them into a picture that I could understand better. I cannot do it justice. But it was about how we would only find paradise, find god, find peace, when we stopped grasping for it. That rather than trying to fill the gaps with God we need to accept the gaps and allow God to be elsewhere. That what was important was how we lived our lives every day rather than on a Sunday. He had some fantastic quotes, but unfortunately I couldn't get the name of who he was quoting. Stop making doing things an excuse for not managing to do anything. Reflect who you want to be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Here You

It was a quiet year. In many ways not as many stories as in previous years. But still I had the most chaotic, the most relaxed, and the happiest time of the year. I love the moments that my team make happen.

Chief Tonka used to run the nights team when I did nights. I have a lot of respect for him, not least because his day to day job involves carrying a rifle. I hope that I have managed to learn something from him over the years. I freely admit to being somewhat in awe of him (not a feeling I have for many if I am honest). So imagine when I find that a team of mine were trying to evict a few young lads from the site. They were escorting the lads (or possibly shepherding them) in the right direction. Sweetcorn felt that a bit more presence was needed. She spotted Chief Tonka and, in her words, shouted "You'll do, come with me". He has even more of my respect because he did. She has my respect because she wasn't intimidated by his position.


GB was a bit wet this year. The grounds are fairly good and can dry quickly but repeated showers/drizzle/hurricanes meant that it was never quite dry enough. Certain areas got a bit boggy (possibly aided by the bogs overflowing/leaking etc). Helicopter field certainly suffered. And the roadways became treachorous in places. Luckily I have had training on driving in mud so I managed to make it through on the countless occassions I decided to take a tonka around the camping site. Unlike some. Who I would hesitate to mention, but they have a blog. Who needed a tow. Who got stuck in the middle of the camping area. Oh, did I mention, they beached i!

Missing You

Not that we get withdrawal symptoms or anything of course, but in the last 24 hours Facebook has lit up with new groups related to Greeneblt with photos and everything. All basically saying, had a great time, wonderful to spend some time with you, look at x looking silly in this photo. There are too many of us that wished most of life was Greenbelt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stop Right There

Once more, on the first night, we had to make a sweep of the Helicopter field to check for any bad people. As this event was described last year I do not have to go in to detail about the golf buggies etc. However it is worth recounting the journey back to the grandstand. Four golf buggies travelling in convoy left the field and headed down the lane, carryingpproximately 20 stewards in day glos and other official looking clothing. Half way down the hill are a group of youths coming towards us. As we get closer we see that they are carryinh a No Entry sign. Which should be at the end of the lane! I think they had the greatest shock of their lives when they realsied they had 20 stewards descending on them. They must have thought this the most tight security ever. And I bet they didn't nick another thing all weekend. 6 out of 10 for effort on their part, but definitely 0 out of 10 for timing.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


16 golds. He's really worried now. Accusing us of cheating. Something about only winning when we are sitting down, but even that has been confounded today. National Lottery coming good and, before Gordon takes all the credit, remember who started it. Seriously though, the sailing and cycling teams have done a fantastic job, all credit to them. Now it's just a question of where to buy a GB shirt for him to wear.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I have a bet with someone at work. He's an aussie. Before the Olympics started he bet me that if the UK got more golds than Aus then he would wear an England cricket shirt. If Aus got more than the UK then I would have to wear his aussie one (again, I had to wear it when we lost the Ashes). He was strangely quiet today.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Dark Knight

It's really quite a while since we have been to see anything over a "U" or "PG" rating. We had a chance tonight and went to see "The Dark Knight". I have to say I am amazed it got a 12A rating, I would imagine it would give any 12 year old nightmares.

It continues in the darker model of Batman Begins. Gotham City itself is not dark and brooding, it is a normal looking city. And strangely enough that leaves more room for the characters themselves to be dark. Which they are. Heath Ledger does a fantastic job and it is possible to see why the role might have got to him. It is relentless. There is always tension which never lets off. Just when things could wrap up there is another twist. The Joker says he doesn't plan, and that comes through the film, it is unnervingly erratic.

To be honest I can't quite decide if I think it is a good film. I suspect it is. I have problems with any film that is part of a series but has inconsistencies (this was an issue I had with Casino Royale). You need to divorce this film from the earlier Batman films in your head or it doesn't make sense. Like Batman Begins it doesn't go for a feel good factor either, so there is a slightly empty feeling at the end.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Stretch your brain cells and give this quiz a go. I tell you my score if you tell me yours.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Monday Paracetamol -Ulrich Schnauss

It may not be Monday but the rest of the name seems apt since I am now missing two wisdom teeth.


Get Creative

Should you be looking to write a book you may need some help with metaphors, similes and the like. Always ready to serve, here I give you some suggestions:

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in anothercity and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

{These are reportedly gathered by USA English teachers, which I rather doubt}

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Two wisdom teeth coming out tomorrow. I can ill afford to lose them. For some reason don't really feel like blogging.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bang Bang

While I find the situation in Georgia worrying, I can't begin to understand where Bush gets off telling another country that they shouldn't invade somewhere they disagree with. Has he not noticed where all his soldiers are. He can say that Russias actions have substantially damaged their standing in the world, and not recognise what his own countries actions have done.

Violence is an ever decreasing circle. The US showed the way by ignoring the wishes of the world (bar the UK) and invading other countries. If you claim to be the moral leader of the world then don't be surprised when others follow your example.

Monday, August 11, 2008

England Won

So we won the test match against Soouth Africa. Yes we lost the series but at the end we came true. I still think more men should have been dropped, and there is a long way to go, but the early indications is that Kevin Pietersen has knocked some sense in to them and, more importantly, knocked some fight in to them. They didn't fold, they didn't bottle. A good start.


Two news items in the last week, both relating to smoking, at opposite ends of the spectrum, but both showing how intolerant a society we have become.

Incident 1 - One morning a woman is pushed from a station platform 2 minutes before a train arrives. She is pushed because the day before she asked two young men (I was going to say gentlemen but that would clearly be wrong) to stop smoking. As it is illegal to smoke on the station this can't be considered a bad thing to do.

Incident 2 - Ofcom receives complaints because Marco Pierre White is seen smoking on his TV programme. The fact that it is after the watershed, and therefore no impressionable children should be watching, doesn't seem to matter.

I find it hard to believe that anyone could consider pushing someone off a station platform. To come close to murder becasue someone asked you to stop doing something illegal. But not only is the act itself shocking but society hasn't all spoken against the thugs. Oh no, a number of people have derided the woman. Asked who made her station master, who does she think she is, why can't she mind her own business? Comments that give credence to the act and encourage further acts of violence.

But intolerance also in condemning a TV programme for someone doing what is a common act. Smoking is not rare. Granted I don't like smoke in my face. Granted I don't want my food to smell of cigs. But he wasn't cooking. It just happens he smokes. Normal behaviour. And not something to condemn someone for.

A society that can no longer see the other point of view. No longer recognise that we are individuals. That we have a right to our view. A right to live a life and to express ourselves. Not a society I can be proud to be part of.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Light Showers and Strong Winds

So following the holiday my arms, face and legs are brown. Only thing is I can't work out if it is a tan or simply weathering.


So. Back from the holiday. Mixed feelings. Some of it good, some of it bad. Dartmouth can be wonderful, but the rain doesn't make it the most inspiring place on earth. Then add in a 6 year old daughter who doesn't seem to be interested in anything at the moment.

The first half of the holiday was tense (that might be an understatement) as we tried to find things she would enjoy. Just ended up with a lot of falling out and arguments. I really don't know if it is her or her parents! She generally has the attention span of a peanut so we were trying to find things to excite, and failing. It actually became easier in the second half when we realised that, despite the fact that for most things she seems to need a constant adrenaline rush, she was happy to do crabbing for hours on end, and that really was all she wanted to do. I haven't yet managed to reconcile a child who is always on the go with one who can spend three hours crabbing, but that is probably one of lifes great trials.

I did however find one thing that made her smile. And it had speed. Yesterday we went out for a rib ride. you know, one of the solid hull inflatable side type boats used by the lifeboat guys. Very fast. hitting the waves, launching into the air. Coming down with a bang. Tears from your eyes the wind was so strong. And she smiled and laughed the entire time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Enclosure 44

I wish I was going up to Edinburgh in the next week. It is a long time since I have been to the fringe, and I would like to do it again (although I prefer Glasgows Mayfest), but I would really like to see the latest exhibit at Edinburgh Zoo. Enclosure 44 - Humans has a dance troup in one of the enclosures (previously for beavers) and they are lspending approximately 7 hours a day there.

As far as I can work out there will be some set pieces, like feeding time and a set dance each day, but most of it will be ad lib, the dancers reacting to their audience.

This is potentially quite amazing. Some time spent watching and thinking could tell us so much about ourselves. There are definitely a lot of lessons about how we treat animals and what we expect of them, but I suspect it can go deeper than that. Thinking about humans in the more abstract so we can consider how we interact together, how we try to find dominance in our lives over others, what we looko for and what we consider important. Worth a trip I reckon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Oh I Do Like To Be...

It could not have been more british. The day is grey, occassional showers, strong winds. So we go to the beach Now I was never a fan of the beach when I was young. It hasn't grown on me at all. But this weather doesn't help at all. I was just amazed at how many other people were also willing to put up with it. Grit teeth, smile, and pretend to have fun.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Eat Here

Simple message.

Res Nova, Dartmouth. Great food and great atmosphere. Make a detour and give it a go. You won't regret it.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

England Lose

Watching (or listening to) England attempt to play cricket is a painful process. The only thing that you can be sure of is that the players will consistently underachieve. And, strange though it may seem, losing to South Africa today was possibly a good thing. It means that the selectors really will have to look at the team. And with rather better analysis than this match where they dropped the one person with form, Stuart Broad. Had we won then we would have heard all the platitudes and heads would have been buried in the sand.

Some people have to go. And the selectors have to see passed the fact that certain players throw in the odd century when their career is on the blocks. We would be better with a team who can repeatedly get 70-80 runs each, than a team where individuals get a century every once in a while to keep their place.

So out should go Vaughan (what use a captain when he can't score), Collingwood (sorry, the second innings was great but it doesn't nullify the rest of the season), Flintoff and Strauss. I possibly think even KP should go. KP is great, he is an exciting player, and if he is surrounded by a reliable team then he is a potential match winner. But the problem with exciting is that those players also get out playing the great shots, and without any depth to the team we can't take the risk.

There have to be other players out there. It must be so frustrating for David Sales and the like to be watching this slow motion train crash and yet be repeatedly overlooked by the selectors.

Time for the long knives.