Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Tiny Step

This year has gone fairly well for the Saints so far.  We won the LV Cup.  The only english team through to the quarter finals of the Heinekan Cup.  Sitting second in the Guiness Premiership.  There was a cloud however.  Tiny (Soane Tonga'uiha as his real name, you can see why we opt for Tiny) had signed for the Saracens for next season.  Now the Saints had taken Tiny from Bedford as a slow and overweight prop.  Now he is a prop with a desire to be a wing!  Well, OK, that's an exagerration but his intercept and break during the LV Cup final was incredible, he ran almost the whole length of the pitch.  The point is that he is now up there as one of the best in the premiership and we were going to miss him.

Somehow something that started as a rumour, that Tiny had changed his mind and wanted to stay, has got more and more momentum.  It's looking as though he is doing his best, but it is annoying the Sarries quite a bit.  It's exciting news and I believe that the input from the fans, with threads on the Saints forum and even a petition on Facebook, has had a big impact on his decision.  Unfortunately it is likely to get ugly before it gets pretty.  I hope it doesn't distract the players for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Big Bang

So, while there remains an outside chance that we have all slipped into an alternate reality, it appears that the Large Hadron Collider is finally a success. It's taken a lot longer than planned but cheering was heard within CERN today as the scientists managed to collide protons at previously unimagined speeds. After all the fuss, including an interesting theory that time travellers were coming back and sabotaging the LHC because success would have destroyed the world (there's a Star Trek sized time paradox if ever I've seen one) and another that God himself was breaking it (presumably in a fit of peak that he didn't have one when he created the universe as it would have been quicker so he could have had a long weekend off rather than just Sunday), it was somewhat uneventful. At least, I'm fairly sure that wasn't a black hole on the M1 thus evening as I returned from work.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Drawn Swords

A very happy man tonight. I had an interview for joining Knights Templar. This is something I have been interested in for a long time. The Knights have a long and interesting history. The first global bankers. The origin of "Friday the 13th" being unlucky. Roslyn chapel. So many interwoven pieces to put together. AND I get a sword!

I just hope I don't meet the Pope or the French king.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rest Time

Now that was an intense weekend. It felt that as soon as I was in the house then it was time to go out again. Fitted in 2 birthday parties, riding, cycling, rugby, lunch out, making muffins, a basketball match, and a jazz evening. And all this when we lose an hours sleep. I think I need the week to begin so I can have a rest.

Of course most of it was for "A" (not the jazz evening, that was me time). Who ended up so tired that I don't think we ended up with due credit for being a taxi service. This is the thanks you get for being a parent! A child protesting wildly that she isn't tired and then crying because she hasn't had a chance to go out and play with her friends. But I wil take an opportunity to say congratulations to her and her school friends, who won the basketball competition (it was quarter finals), defeeating all the other three schools they were up against. Not sure that the rather loud support I provided was appreciated though. Does shouting "Go A, Go A, Go A" while doing a little dance count as embarassing your kids?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Trotting On

Riding is still a big part of my daughters life, and of mine as well. Normally though my chances of riding revolve around hers. So when she has a 45 minute lesson every Saturday then I can sneak in a 30 minute lesson as well. And that's fine, I am happy with that. However today "A" had a party to go to and thus couldn't come riding. I was not going to take her to the party though as it involved having hair and nails done, and make-up and other girly things. So I booked myself an hours hack.

And it was really enjoyable. It was lovely to be able to go out for a ride without having to "learn" all the time. It was lovely to be able to go out on the roads rather than be stuck in the school. It was lovely to be riding for a whole hour. OK, so the fields are too wet for us to go cantering, but it was nice to just be out. Pleasant day.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blues and Twos

It is with great disappointment that I heard the news that "The Bill" is to be axed. To be honest, 6 months or so ago then I wouldn't have been at all concerned. But the new format is really good. I started watching The Bill when it was first aired. It was good drama, well thought out, with strong story lines. I continued to watch for probably about 15 years. But gradually it became more and more of a soap rather than a drama. And the more it tried to compete with Eastenders then the worse it became. Eventually it was no longer worth watching. But about 6 months ago they announced that they were changing back to once a week and hour long episodes. Well, there's not much else on TV these days so give it a go I thought. And what I found was that they had gone back to a drama format not a soap. And the new format is good, really good. Stories are complex, and don't always end as you would expect. There is enough connection between episodes, with some story lines going over a couple of weeks. I will actually miss it when it goes.

Clean Up

Just about every hotel now has a sign in the bathroom which reads something like "ooo, we really really care about the environment so we will only wash your towels if they really really need it in order to save water". However the reality is that what those signs mean is "ooo, we can save money if we don't wash your towels so unless you leave them specifically in the bath then don't expect nice clean ones!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Biffy Clyro - Bubbles

OK, it's not the best of quality, but I used to love gigs at the Barrowlands.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Toyota have some adverts on the radio at the moment. Clearly designed to encourage buyers to come back to them. The idea is to convince us everything is fixed. They end with a statement "now we're going". I thought the problem was that they couldn't stop!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saints 30- 24 Gloucester

Last season my daughter started enjoying rugby and supporting the Northampton Saints. This has proved a wonderful thing for me as I have been able to go to almost every home match this season, and even managed to start mixing in some away games. Well today was the final of the LV= Cup, played at the Worcester ground. Now, last year I was at the same final, it was at Twickers, but by coincidence it was against Gloucester. Last year Cardiff Blues trounced the cherry and whites, so I headed towards todays game thinking I would be lucky to be on the winning team two years in a row. This was not helped by Shane Geraghty being put at full back. Shane is an enigma at the best of times, sometimes sublime and sometimes substandard. To put him at full back, out of position was either an act of genius or madness.

What a game. Last year ended up quite a fun affair. The Blues ran in trys for fun and it was an "easy" game to watch. Today was nip and tuck. At times Gloucester were in the lead. Then the Saints would come back. Then the pressure would build again. It so could have gone any direction. I have no voice left (which could be interesting as I have a few presentations to do this week) and my nails are nibbled to the quick. But, in the end, we won. I do have some sympathy for Gloucester, their record is not great in these events, but they played their hearts out. Ultimately though, what makes the Saints so good at the moment, and what fosters incredible loyalty amongst their supporters, is that they really are a close team who are their for each other. It isn't that one man stands above the others but that every one of them throws everything they can into the game.

There were some wonderful moments. "Tiny" (a prop, a very large prop) making a break and runing almost the length of the field. On TV you see him smiling to start with and then the smile changing to concern as his engine fades - props are just not supposed to run that far. A great try by Lee Dickson - so deserved, no-one else puts his body on the line so often. Shane under the high ball - being targetted by Gloucester and showing that he can't be intimidated. Roger Wilson making breaks. All absolutely stunning to watch. A day where my nerves couldn't have taken another 5 minutes, the last two minutes of the game stretching for eternity when the whole game was over in a flash. So enjoyable.

Once again I can say "I was there".

Friday, March 19, 2010


Those who follow me on Facebook or Plurk will know by now that I was recently diagnosed with a DVT. The full story is as follows:

Back in the second week of January we were at a conference. After an enjoyable night including dancing and a generous flow of alcohol, I went to bed. Approximately two hours later Iwoke to the most excrutiating pain in my left leg, like the worlds worst cramp. No more sleep for me that night, and when I got out of bed in the morning I nearly fell over as I couldn't put weight on my leg. However I found that the more I moved around then the easier it became. I managed until the night when, after 30-60 minutes of lying down, the cramp started again. Anyway, another night without sleep, but made it through the next day and drove home. A day or two later the pain was easier, especially if I kept moving and even going down the gym, but I noticed my leg was swollen. And I mean really really swollen.

I'm not a fan of doctors. There are probably a few reasons for this, not least a psychological one that my father was a doctor and yet smoked himself to death before I was 10. I suspect there might be some lingering resentment! I was therefore reticent to go to the doctor. After all, the leg was improving (barr the swelling) so why bother them. I could get around well enough. I kept on riding. Describing the symptoms to medical friends and family, it just wasn't a DVT, there were no precipitating factors, no reason I should have one, and it didn't act like one either. If anything the pain was in my ankle and heel, other than that the twinges just shifted around.

After about 6 weeks I decided that I had had enough of my mother nagging me to see the doctor. By this time she had decided that my leg was going to drop off. I went to my doctor ad within 10 seconds of me walking in he had decided it was a DVT without even examining me. That was a sure way to wind me up. I said I thought it might be a deep infection and he agreed to put me on antibiotics. I made an appointment to see him again in a week.

The swelling went down a bit on the antibiotics, but the reality was it was still an unusual looking leg. So I went for my appointment. Minor problem, I turned p at 1910hrs, when I beleived my appointment was, but it had actually been at 1030hrs. Not entirely sure how I got that wrong. Despite the fact that the surgery was empty the doctor refused to see me. I left muttering something about being paid to do nothing with tax payers money, and resolved to find a new doctors. Which I did. But it took more time.

So another week or so passes, and I go to see my new doctor. I get examined. He doesn't think it is typical of a DVT but he can't think of anything else so feels I should start on heparin. Unfortunately it is too late for me to have heparin there so he sends me to the out of hours doctors at the hospital. Who are more than somewhat surprised that I have been sent to them for heparin injections. Partly because they don't think it is a DVT and partly because that isn't the arrangement they have. Anyway, after about an hour and a half I get my injection and we send a form to the DVT clinic so I can get checked the next day.

The next day arrives and I go down the DVT clinic. Where everyone is very nice, probably aided by the fact that there are no doctors around. They assess me, check me over, and announce it isn't a DVT and I can go home. At which point I beg to be scanned. Not because I now beleive I ahve a DVT but because I want proof for the doctors. So the nurse calls the scanning department, who initially say it isn't a DVT so why scan me. Luckily they are quiet and they have a trainee who needs practice. So they let me go down. The scanning proceeds in a very jovial manner (although I wished my underwear was tighter around the leg area, the probe got very intimate) and we are beginning to talk about other things when there is a sudden tone of surprise in the voice of the scanner as she announces that she has found a DVT. And then a second one. One in the ankle and one at the back of the knee. When she gave me my forms back I think the term she used was that I had "bamboozled" them.

Two things annoyed me at this point. One was that the doctor was right. The second was that I wouldn't be able to go to Munster for the Heinekan Cup Quarter Final. The second is now sorted, I am on the warfarin and a nurse told me I can fly to Ireland. The first, well the doctor wasn't right - I have two not one DVT!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What a Shock

This, getting people to deliver electric shocks to other, is not actually new. It is a repeat of a psychology experiment done back in the 60's. It was done in order to explain how Nazis committed atrocities and sows how the human mind can disassociate responsibility when told to do something by an "authority". The study was conducted by Stanley Migram. 65%, yes that's right, 65% of people were willing to deliver what they expected to be a lethal electric shock. What drove them to do it, simply verbal encouragement from a man in a white coat.

So we've known this for 50 years. Why would we even be surprised that people will do the unexpected, perform outside the "norm", when on TV. The television has taken over our world. It tells us what to believe, it shows us what is happening, it provides our pleasure and our grief. It plays with our emotions. So, in this experiment, contestants believe that they are administering shocks to other competitors in order to win a game show. And they do so becasue it is what is asked of them and what they sgned up for. What's possibly more shocking is how we will happily watch programmes that involve pain being done to others. The japanese shows seem to take it further than others, but Total Wipeout is an amazingly big success world wide. Bog Brother is just another variant, it is watched because people suffer.

Many have tried to achieve world domination over the centuries, and failed. The television has succeeded.