Another month, another post

1 06 2008

Prompted by a spurt of comments (well, two – thanks Syl), I decided this blog thingy won’t write itself and I really should immerse myself more in the social media blogosphere. Hence diving into Twitter a bit more (maybe even getting it to work with my phone), and spreading myself around a bit. No, not like that, wife!

It seems more regular Tweets get you noticed around and about, and I appear to have surfaced on the radar of a cougar from Las Vegas. Happy days! But on the flip side, am also one of 117, 336 that another bloke is following. Don’t feel so special now. But let’s see what the next few days bring.

The most ridiculous thing is happening right now, and that is waiting for a football match to start that doesn’t kick off until 22.30. And the funny thing is, it’s either going to be a complete rout, where England win 23-0, or else some crappy 2-0 victory with 278 players being used. Per side.

Oh well, proper football starts in 6 days, and then it’ll be two games a day until I’m sick of football. Which will be ace!

So sit back and enjoy the rants about ludicrous dives and crazy red cards, but hopefully some raves about brilliant goals from CR7 (and the person who invented that little moniker should be shot in the unmentionables) and the rest of the United contingent.

Tick Tock…kick off approaches…more soon (ish)

Londoners give themselves a BJ

3 05 2008

…which isn’t as pleasant as it sounds.

At what point did the entire capital city get lobotomised and think BoJo (or just plain Bozo) was fit to run the place? Did I fall asleep and miss the adverts urging residents to go to their nearest clinic? Am I part of some bizarre reality TV show where the country gets pushed to its limits? What the hell is going on?

The electorate, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that this buffon-blonde buffoon is fit to guide their city through what promises to be an extremely tricky time – economically, politically and socially. Dicks. It doesn’t matter that he’s a Tory, cos I don’t think even he knows what his views are on some things. The guy can’t even string a sentence together without making some apalling gaffe. He and Prince Phil should get on famously.

Hopefully he’ll be out in time for the Olympics! Can you imagine the great and the good descending on London, with the eyes of billions watching as Bozzer makes a complete goof of the entire thing?

This guy couldn’t even get his story straight about a possible use/handling/eating of cocaine (‘Erm…I..huh-huh…erm…yah…well…erm…I-I-I-I thought they said cake, those spiffing chaps in…hooded..erm..yah…sweaties…can I ride my bike now please, Mummy?’)


The end.

 Every Loser Wins
Politics? Booooring!!!

Forced labour

28 04 2008

Well, forced blogging.

When you get comments from people telling you there is no point to keep checking your blog, you know it’s been too long. About a month to be precise. Yikes. Sorry Manc fans.

And now I’ve been forced to put pen to paper (well, fingers to keys), the age-old problem of writer’s block rears its ugly head (an apostrophe-ruined-nightmare of a sentence – one writer or more than one, its? I’m sure someone will tell me [you know who you are]).

So to blog about work? I think not.

Life? Not much going on at the moment. Been to London a few times to see friends, rugby and stuff.

Football? Don’t get me started.

Random stuff? Can’t find any.

So there. A blog post.

Hope you enjoyed.

If football had been invented by Caesar…

25 03 2008

If football, as the comparison is often drawn, is anything like gladiatorial combat, then my journey over the past eight days has been an odyssey through the various stages of a great warrior’s life.

At the tiny, ill-attended ground of Abingdon Town from the Hellenic League (the 9th level of football in England) we see the small boys aping what they have seen grown men do. Here they toil with inadequate facilities, a pitch which resembles not the fine turf of the larger arenas they have seen and are striving to get to, but more like the ploughed fields which surround the sumptuous abodes of the players they are trying to emulate. This was like watching children play with wooden swords; a few minor scratches are inflicted, moves that they have seen in the bigger amphitheatres are tried (often to fail miserably), and bragging rights over other minor teams are won and lost.

It is places like Abindgon that feed the gladiatorial training schools of that found at Garforth Town near Leeds. High on the windswept and cruelly inhospitable moors, players that have excelled at lower league football are pitted against each other in the Unibond First Division North. The elements certainly dictate the style and level of football possible, and a raging wind direct from the Urals ensures the fan base is composed of the most loyal and/or foolhardy bunch of dyed-in-the-wool supporters. A kindly benefactor in the shape of Simon Clifford has grasped the reins at Garforth and, rather like Oliver Reed’s character in the movie Gladiator, has turned the organisation into one of the finest feeder clubs in the country. Let it not be forgotten (and there is no danger of this) that the colossus that is Micah Richards is a product of this tiny outfit.

To continue the parallel with the Hollywood picture mentioned above, the provincial arena in which the potential gladiators first come up against opposition that is worthy of their talents is at clubs like Crewe Alexandra. With a suffix evocative of that city in Egypt that surely once saw the crowds roar at bloodshed under Roman rule, Crewe is a true test of a player’s capabilities. If he isn’t good enough he will be exposed, yet unlike in Caesar’s day he will not be run through with a sword, simply thrown to the lions that are the lower divisions. To fail here doesn’t mean a physical death, but rejection can mean a return to leagues where once mighty warriors such as Socrates once was for Brazil are turned out as a novelty act and asked to perform for a brief moment in the spotlight they used to love and still crave.

For those that succeed in the provincial sides, the chances of glory. Players such as Dean Ashton (the hero of the Gresty Road stand for five memorable years) inevitably move on to the bright lights of bigger and frankly better things. Many have failed, few succeed. The Premiership is the pinnacle of any right-minded footballer, and the finely honed specimens on show in this league are so like the gladiators of ancient times that the comparison is uncanny. Note the muscles bulging from shirts barely containing the huge frames of these giants amongst men. Watch the ladies swoon as they remove their shirts in celebration (surely a move designed solely to show the millions watching that they have scaled a physical peak the viewers can only imagine).

And to complete the analogy, to come a full and perfect circle, we enter the modern day Coliseum that is Old Trafford. Hear the crowd roar in anticipation as the warriors enter the arena to seriously uplifting music, baying for blood before weapons have even been drawn.

Combat begins under the watchful glare of the imperious Ferguson. Put him in a toga and laurel wreath and you have a modern day Caesar. Tentatively at first the protagonists feel out each others’ strengths and weaknesses with probing passes and half-serious tackles. But soon we see the main characters taking charge with Wayne Rooney in the Russell Crowe role, directing his troops with unerring accuracy. On his signal they unleash hell and break down the opponents in front of them mercilessly and completely. By the end of the skirmish, the other team is left with nothing to give, losing a member on the way as his hotheadedness leads to his own downfall (much like the keen young gladiator who attacks without seeing the upthrust of the more experienced fighter and impales himself). The players look to Ferguson for approval, and with a nod of his head as opposed to a signal with his thumb, their Caesar condemns another team to the sword.

If football had been invented by Caesar, it would look an awful lot like the league structure of today. If football had been invented by Caesar, he would oversee the greatest team in the land. If football had been invented by Caesar it would be the game we know and love in the modern age, but maybe with a bit more blood and some lions.

Between a cock and a lard place

19 03 2008

Swimming should be banned if you are over a certain girth, or a knob.

I refer, of course, to my latest swim (one of 3 this week). I was in the outside lane, tricky at the best of times due to the waves from other swimmers bouncing off the walls. In the next lane was Alpha Male, ploughing his furrow in a metronomic, but huge wave-inducing way. I was looking for the sticker on the back of his balding pate saying ‘Actually, I do own the pool.’

So imagine my horror when at the end of length 3 I turn round to see the bastard child of Rik Waller and Mr Blobby pushing off in my lane. Jesus, talk about a bow wave! As we crossed (not at half way as you might expect, but some way towards his end of the pool, despite me being Captain Slow) he didn’t make an effort to get out of the way, meaning I had to virtually swim into the path of Alpha Male to avoid death by whale.

He’s trying to make an effort like me, so I can’t fault him for that, but maybe he should have made a start by cutting out balti pies and swiss rolls first.

It was the hardest swim of my short pool career, and now I know what it’s like for those poor souls who swim the channel and deal with waves, foreign bodies etc.

And as for the cock doing a million lengths a minute. Please fuck off.

A broken Manc

18 02 2008

Oh my. Oh my, my, my. First trip to the new gym (yeah, like I had an old gym) after work today for a swim. Did 600m (30 lengths) in 25 minutes in my own lane. I don’t think I was meant to have my own lane. In fact I think I contravened pretty much every rule in the Little Swimming Pool Book Of Etiquette, judging by the wry smiles exchanged by others when I left.

This is all due to the fact that I haven’t had my induction yet (am I going to be induced, like a pregnant woman…yeah I know the resemblance could lead a bleary-eyed junior doctor to make a mistake), that happens on Thursday.

So, let’s discuss pain. It’s mostly across my shoulders and neck, possibly due to my impossibly crap breast-stroke (fnar) technique. I’m sure my feet dragged the bottom a few times. And who’d have thought it was possible to sweat so much in a swimming pool? I’m sure I salinated that water more than is humanly possible. I pity the fool who took over in my lane, as they probably thought they’d made a wrong turn and ended up in the Dead Sea. By the way, is it even possible to contaminate just one lane like that, or would it be the whole pool? Whichever, the filters will be working overtime tonight.

And apart from the pain which is going to arrive with the inevitability of a Virgin train (you know it’s coming, but you’re never sure when it will get here), I appear to have a completely blocked right ear. No amount of head tilting or shaking will enable me to hear. Hopefully it’ll leak out in the small hours of the morning like an unpopular government policy.

So, the gym. It made me feel good for about an hour, but I know I’ll feel bad for longer. Sooner or later this balance will redress itself, but until then, I’ll be the fat bloke in his own lane sweating into your local pool. Do enjoy your swim.

Cars and art

15 01 2008

So what’s new?

Not a lot really. I managed to get rid of my broken car for an exceptionally reasonable price considering the garage that took it off my hands still hasn’t managed to make it move (note to self – must send the breakdown mechanic a message to say it wasn’t his fault). Other than that, we’re just pootling along, playing Scrabulous (for those of you that don’t know what that is….you still have your lives, don’t get involved!) and doing some seriously good bargain grocery shopping. 6 pork steaks for 75p! Ace! We’ve got the tactics down, and know to go shopping at 9.05pm – just inside the Golden Hour when the ‘Reduced’ labels come out. I even followed a bloke in the Co-op the other day until he put the 30p label on the bag of 10 jam doughnuts. Sticky strawberry bliss!

We went to the Oxford Open Art Exhibition on the opening night on Friday to see my ‘Painting By Letters’. In a massive room with walls covered in ‘traditional’ art, mine was the only piece that involved any form of audience interaction. Sadly it looked like the curators didn’t know what to do with it, so kind of shoved it in a corner, nearly behind a video installation. But I’m taking a card to put up next to it this weekend so that people will know what to do. Mrs Manc tried her best to let people know what to do by writing on it when the most people were watching, but nobody took the bait and the guard-type person looked most alarmed.

That’s what’s going on, and I AM trying to come up with the next bit of the Las Vegas story, I really am, but my brain is a bit melted at the moment (must be a nightmare if writing is your real job….oh, hang on, it is).

Until next time….

Writer’s block

7 01 2008

Aaarrrgghhh! I can’t get any further into the Las Vegas story without coming up against plot problems, so there’ll be no more until I can ease out the knots. Also, writing about Vegas, watching the TV series Las Vegas, accidentally catching a children’s morning show about Vegas and people from work going to Vegas has made me really hanker after going back and revelling in some of the excesses. Maybe we can live there for a bit (not sure how Mrs Manc will feel about that!) before we settle. Maybe not.

I could be a professional Northerner, maybe have a Northern theme night, there’ll be enough of my kind there to get people interested. Maybe once Hatton retires he could do stand-up as a lounge act, he’s really rather good at it.

Anyway, that’s the future, and who knows what that holds. Apart from Mystic Meg, obviously.

Next installment

3 01 2008

Sorry, been too long. Anyway, I started on the wrong track with this writing exercise, so I think you may be witnessing the birth of a novella…..


He walked through the doors of the casino into the wall of blazing heat and light which the hotel owners try and remove all trace of by making their gaming halls dark and air conditioned to almost Arctic conditions. It hit him like a strong right cross from a prize-fighter, his loud Hawaiian print shirt sticking to him instantly, but the girl just swanned out and waited for him, hand on her hip, like there was no discernable difference. She was good, he’d give her that.

‘Your place or mine?’

‘Erm….’ He hadn’t quite got this far in his finely honed plan, assuming that he’d have to work at her and have time to build up an idea of how she rolled. ‘Yours?’

And she was off again, striding towards a cherry red Mustang. The engine was revving impatiently before he had time to think that this was all going a bit too well. At least the car would have AC.

She drove at speed in short bursts between the lights on the Strip, weaving in and out of the traffic like a Nascar driver. He gripped his seat, gritted his teeth and watched the lights flash by, smiling wanly. When she pulled up at the valet parking bay of the Wynne and got out, tossing her keys to a waistcoated lackey, he was confused. But he didn’t have time to collect his thoughts because she was striding away from him again into the casino, and he knew that if he lost her there then there would be no chance to find her again. What he was trying to get straight in his head as he did a passable impression of an awe-inspired tourist was why she was bringing him to the newest, fanciest hotel in Las Vegas, and why he had been told to find her in what was probably the crummiest.

She was just getting into an elevator when he caught up with her, having legged it past the designer shops and implausibly-priced restaurants, and he squeezed through the doors just as they were closing.

A little light exercise

20 12 2007

So after the last two posts (which were quite frankly a bit ranty) I thought I’d try my hand at a little exercise I found on a blog called Newscoma It’s basically a fill in the gaps writing task, but there is only one gap, and it’s quite large. I’ve changed the last word to make it more UK-friendly.

Basically, the trick is to fill in the space between the sentences – ‘In a seedy little casino on the outskirts of Las Vegas’ and ‘…from then on, they became the stars of the Oxford Fire Department.’

So here goes!

In a seedy little casino on the outskirts of Las Vegas is where we find our hero Jake Shuffling. Not Jake…shuffling. No he isn’t a dealer. Of cards, anyway. Our man deals in dreams, toying with the lives of the people who put them in his hands. He’s a PR guru, and he’s going to the top. Or so he thinks. Before long we’ll find him at the bottom of a pole greasier than the one the girls are currently swinging round before his very eyes.

In the corner of his eye he spots a girl alone at the bar. Bingo. His target, the one he has waited two days for, sipping whisky sours, making them last even though they are free. Truth is, he didn’t want to come into contact with the low-grade cocktail waitress that brought him his drinks, smiling expectantly through gappy yellow teeth each time, and never receiving the dollar she wanted. Still, give her credit, she was persistent. He shook the thoughts of the aging woman from his head and focussed on his prey. He had his pitch down pat (he’d had two days to finely hone it after all).

‘Can I buy you a drink?’
‘Nice try. Now leave.’ Not the result he was really hoping for. ‘Did nobody tell you they were free?’

‘OK, can I get you a drink?’

‘Better. Vodka. Grey Goose. Straight on the rocks with a twist.’

While he waited he studied her profile (she hadn’t deigned even to look at him yet, and it was too dark to make anything out in the mirror behind the bar). Cute nose, plucked eyebrows, deep brown eyes, pouting lips. She looked every bit the star that she wasn’t, but that he planned to make her.

After taking a long sip, swilling it round her mouth, swallowing and savouring her drink, the girl swung slowly round on her stool to face him.

‘So, how can I be of assistance?’

‘I’m going to make you famous.’



‘OK, let’s go.’

And with a flick of her hair she had finished her drink and was almost out of the bar before Jake had time to think ‘Hang on, that wasn’t quite what I had in mind.’ Slightly bemused, he hurried towards the door, wondering where this liaison was headed. She wasn’t going to try and sleep with him, was she? He was flattered, but wasn’t sure Eddy would be so keen.

…The rest will follow in my next post. Watch this space!