Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Handbags At Dawn

I was amused to read in Metro (the freebie paper) today, about an incident which occured between All Blacks Tana Umaga and Chris Masoe at the weekend.

The pair were out at a bar in Christchurch on Saturday evening, drowining their sorrows after their Hurricanes' defeat in the Super14 finals, and celebrating Umaga's 33rd birthday.

Masoe was apparently accidentally tripped by someone at the bar, and took exception to this, throwing a punch at the hapless drinker. In order to avert the fracas escalating, Umaga then grabbed a woman's handbag and thumped Masoe with it, to bring him back to his senses! Masoe promptly burst into tears. And the pair were thrown out of the establishment shortly afterwards by a female bouncer. The ignominy of it!

Well, if England want to counter the effects of the Haka next time New Zealand visit Twickers in the Autumn (5th Novemeber has been pencilled in), maybe they should each whip out a handbag from under their jumpers and brandish them at rugby's "alleged" hard men :-D

Just to show they're not always quite as soft, here's one of my photos of Umaga scoring a try, closely followed up by Masoe, when the All Blacks last played at Twickenham in November 2005.

Add: 2nd June 2006:
I read that the entrepreneurial lady who's handbag inflicted the blows has decided to put it up for auction. Good for her!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Best Foot Forward

Is it just me that views the advent of warm, sunny weather with some trepidation?

Why my unease, you may ask? The problem is with feet; other people's feet. You're sitting there on the tube, minding your own business reading the freebie paper, when your eye suddenly glances off the page, and you notice some podiatry horror lurking in someone's sandals. Now I'm no prude, and if a foot fetish is your thing, then you're probably in Hog Heaven during the summer. But for me, I find it can be quite an ordeal being met with such a variety of footsies, the nice or the nasty.

The whole gamut of feet seem to throw off their shackels when the sun comes out, and are crammed into sandals which vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. Small, doll-like feet to huge crusty tramp's feet with yellowing claws attached. You see them all on a London tube in the summer! And I'm not sure why, but I think showing off your feet in public seems to be very much more initimate and personal than wearing full shoes. Probably because you don't normally get to see feet in the same way we see hands all the time. Some feet are ok if you're prepared for them - say in the swimming bath or at the beach, but I suppose its the unexpected exposure that seems a bit incongruous. I can't imagine a more nightmare-ish occupation than Chiropodist!

Not that we've had much fine weather recently - anyone showing off their feet at the moment is likely to develop webs between their toes. A bit of rain never stopped a barking-mad friend Scottish of mine at University from wearing her favourite (sloppy and very lived-in) sandals. When asked "but don't they let the rain in?" she would invariably reply "yes, but they let it out again too!". She had a fair point, I suppose.

And talking of sandals, what is it with those Nike neoprene ones which have the split between the big toe and the rest? Must be pretty bloody uncomfortable, I reckon. And worse, they make you look like you have some sort of cloven hooves. Seeing as I'm not about to take lots of photos of folks' feet on the tube, here's a picture of someone with rather big hooves to show off, and maintain an oh-so-tenuous link with this blog's theme - Sarrie the Camel, Saracens' mascot! He's showing off Dave Seymour's Commonwealth Silver Medal, which he won during the Sevens tournament at the games.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sheepish Baa-Baas

Sorry about the pun, I couldn't resist!

Finally, England win something - and quite convincingly - beating the Barbarians 41-12 at Twickenham today. We put out quite a young squad, most of the senior players being rested for the summer ahead of the long haul to the World Cup next year. Even though the Baa-Baas are a scratch side, they still boast some pretty formidable talent in their ranks, so its good to see England getting some good passages of play together and crossing the whitewash!

I didn't attend this time, but here's picture from the England vs Barbarians game of May 2004. Brian O'Driscoll has the ball, closely followed by a trundling Jason Leonard. The Baa-Baas stuffed us 32-12 on that occasion!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sharks Bite Harder Than Tigers!

I was really pleased to read Sale Sharks have won the Guinness Premiership Final against Leicester Tigers today. Good on them, they deserve it! Apparently they are the first team to top the league AND win the subsequent playoffs, since the end of the season system was rearranged.

The Tigers must be a tad gutted, but from all accounts, Sale outplayed them quite comprehensively. The lovely Mark Cueto scored a try for Sale in the first ten minutes. You may recall my mention of him as a suitable hors d'ouvres in a previous post (Feb 24th, Á La Carte Menu). But I didn't provide a full-length picture - so here you go: Cute-O [sic] taking a fluid break during the Sarries vs Sharks game back last September.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Question of Sport - The Real Thing

One of my first blog entries way back on 23rd February concerned an evening called A Question of Sarries, which of course saw Scrum Half Kyran Bracken doing his marvellous impression of Sue Barker, getting trolled up in drag and acting as Question Mistress (see photo).

Last night I was fortunate enough to witness a recording of the real thing - as audience for the BBC's A Question of Sport. In 15 years of working for the BBC, I'd never been to a show recording (it doesn't really count when you're working on a live broadcast, you don't have time to watch very much!). The warm up comic was pretty terrible; some bloke from Canvey Island called Jeff. Wish we could have done without him, but once the show got going, it was very entertaining to watch.

Team captains were the usual Ally McCoist and Matt Dawson. Thought I'd throw in a gratuitous picture of Daws at this point. You can see him squaring up with three of his England pack, Andrew Sheridan, Phil Vickery and Danny Grewcock (not mentioned him in a while so thought I'd name drop again). Dawson seems to be saying "I'm as big as them!"

Anyway, I digress. Dawson's guests were Phil Tufnell and Martin "Chariots" Ofiah. They were both pretty funny; Tuffers was terribly silly at times. Ally's team offered us reigning World Snooker Champion - a painfully thin Scot with a weedy voice whose name I completely failed to remember. Plus Jason White, Scotland's Rugby Union captain and Flanker for Sale Sharks. My, he's a big lad, close-to! Hey presto, I've got a picture of him as well, seen here battling it out in the lineout with Ben Skirving during the Sarries vs Sharks match on 25th September 2005.

So it ended up a good-natured England vs Scotland competition. I won't tell you who won, that would spoil the surprise. But watch out soon for transmission, I have a feeling it might be Friday 2nd June. You might even spot me in the audience if you know who you're looking for!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Catt's Got The Cream

I mentioned Mike Catt was having a good season the other day. Well he's just scooped the Premiership Player of the Season award. Not bad for an "old boy" of 34! And coming on top of his recall to the England squad for their tour to Australia in June, he really seems to be enjoying somewhat of a renaissance.

The picture shows him with team mate Riki Flutey, when London Irish visited Saracens for their Powergen Cup match in October 2005.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Other Side Of The Scrum

Sarries have shored up their front row contingent by recruiting Italian international Fabio Ongaro, another Hooker, for next season. Ongaro was last seen at Vicarage Road on the other side of the scrum, when his current club Treviso paid a visit in the Heineken Cup pool stages. This photo shows Ongaro getting a ticking off from the ref before packing down for another scrum. Let's hope he behaves himself when he's on our side!

They've also signed up Samoan prop Census Johnson, but as yet, I don't know anything about him, so I can't comment. We seem to have plenty of grunt in the front row now, what with Cobus Visagie, Yatesy and Ben Broster being regular first teamers. Cobus and Broster are both Tightheads, so perhaps Mr Johnson is extra cover for Yates in the Loosehead position?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Muddy Affair

Hilly's Benefit game at Vicarage Road was pretty wet at times yesterday, and the World XV rather unwisely had a white kit, which very soon ended up sludge brown. You could spot the subs a mile off when they came on the pitch, we were nearly blinded by the Ariel Whites!

Bit of a pity Saracens XV trailed so far behind, but it was an entertaining game to watch, all the same. And lots of tries! Well done to Academy sub number 22 Richard Gill, who scored a try for Saracens a few minutes after coming on the pitch. He aslo made a very decent tackle on old stager Carlos Spencer, obviously a youth not afraid to get stuck into icons of the game. And just like seeing Captain Hugh Vyvyan dropping a goal a few months back, I also witnessed something I was never expecting - Saracens prop Ben Broster converting a try with a very decent hoof from the touchline - move over "Glenda" Jackson!

There were some great rugby names on both sides, notably David Flatman and Tony Diprose - former Sarries who returned to pull on the black jersey for the afternoon - and as well as King Carlos, the World XV boasted the likes of internationals Justin Marshall, Matt Burke, Joe Roff, Xavier Rush and Raphael Ibanez. They were captained by the inimitable Lawrence Dallaglio. You can see a bunch of the boys getting stuck into each other in the attached photo.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Personalised Plates

I have seen several personalised number plates recently which have caught my eye.

The first is on a shabby looking pickup, and reads E9UUS - without a gap. The font of the "9" has been tweaked to look more like a "q". One can only assume the driver is into horses in a big way.

Another one I see regularly parked at my station is a smart Mercedes sports jobbie, with the plate which used to read C1SC X - I always wondered if it belonged to some fat cat manager type who worked for CISCO (makers of internet hardware routers and switches - an "x" being shorthand for a switch in networking circles). The driver seemed pretty dull so I haven't approached to ask him! And I notice recently that The Boys In Blue must have had a word with him about the non-standard spacing of his plate - it reappeared recently reading C1 SCX as it should!

But one has to wonder about the psyche of someone who is happy to drive around in a car with the plate which reads B19 POO - in this case the "9" looked distinctly like a "g"!

Off to see Hilly's benefit game on Sunday, which should be fun. Loads of big names in the World XV team. But the weather looks a bit iffy, so it might end up being a bit of a muddy affair.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Shameless Ripoff

OK, I'll come clean straight away and admit the following is a straightforward cut-and-paste from a forwarded email I got a while back, but I was trawling my inbox just now and re-read it again. There's some great definitions!


World Wide Wait - The real meaning of www.

404 - Someone who is clueless. From the Web error message, "404 Not Found," which means the document requested couldn't be located. "Don't bother asking John. He's 404."

Chips and Salsa - Chips = hardware, salsa = software.
"First we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa."

Cobweb - A WWW site that never changes.

Cube Farm - An office filled with cubicles.

Egosurfing - Scanning the Net, databases, etc., for one's own name.

Keyboard Plaque - The disgusting buildup of dirt and crud found on some people's computer keyboards.

Mouse Potato - The online generation's answer to the couch potato.

Oh-no-second - That minuscule fraction of time during which you realize you've just made a terrible error.

Open-Collar Workers - People who work at home or telecommute.

Plug-and-Play - A new hire who doesn't require training.
"That new guy is totally plug-and-play."

Seagull Manager - A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, dumps on everything and then leaves.

Stress Puppy - A person who thrives on being stressed-out and whiny.

Under Mouse Arrest - Getting busted for violating an online service's rule of conduct. "Sorry I couldn't get back to you. AOL put me under mouse arrest."

Xerox Subsidy - Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace

In order to maintain a modicum of rugby relevence, I'll put a link to the England team to face the Barbarians. My first England game was against the Baa-Baas in 2004 (England lost!) and you can see more of the photos here. Jason Leonard was propping for the Barbarians, the only time I've seen him on the rugby field.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Guinness Semis

Great to see Sale achieving a place in the Guinness Premiership finals, with a win over Wasps at the weekend. They deserve to go all the way as they have clearly been doing very well this season, and finished 6 points ahead at the top of the table. Wasps will have to lick their wounds and regroup for next season.

And poor old London Irish got a drubbing at Welford Road, being beaten by the Tigers 40-8, Irish's only points coming from Olivier Magne's try and Mike Catt's penalty.

And talking of Catty, he makes the trip down under as part of the Enlgand squad to tour Australia in June. Glad to see there's life in the old dog yet (or Catt, in this case). Here's a gratuitous picture of him to fill up the blog a bit.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Flickr Updates

I have been a bit lax of late about posting more photos to my Flickr album. But since its the end of the season, I thought I would gather together the best of this year's crop and post them up to Flickr. They are arranged into sets which roughly follow the major teams I've taken pictures of.

As the season is closing, I suspect the summer will see a lull in posts here. But if I do say anything, it's probably going to err towards the Just Mad rather than Rugby Mad of the title. A summer of silliness seems fair enough, especially if it gets really hot and my brain begins to fry in the new office I've been forced into (where each developer has at least 3 machines under their desk, the aircon is pants and its so hot already you can bearly think). I must be a bit like one of Terry Pratchett's trolls - I get more stupid the hotter it is, and perhaps I need to put my head in the fridge for normal thought processes to resume.

And talking of silliness, at least tonight's telly includes the penultimate episode of Series 2 of the barking mad Green Wing on Channel 4. Its fab comedy, and brightens the end of the week!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

... get them to join you!

I read with interest that Saracens have signed three London Irish players for the new season - this after they beat us in the last round of the Premiership! The new boys are Paul Gustard (flanker), Rodd Penney (centre) and Ross Laidlaw (fly half). Hopefully it will bode well for the 2006/07 campaign. Plus Saracens' head coach Mike Ford is in talks with the RFU about a possible role coaching England - will have to wait and see what comes of that. Meanwhile, retired back-rower Alex Sanderson is heading down-under to work with Eddie Jones at Queensland Reds for a year, before returning to Saracens at Vicarage Road.

Not a lot of other news to comment on, apart from the imminent recall of good old Catty for the England tour to Australia in June. He has the distinction of being the last player to handle the ball in the 2003 RWC final - kicking it to touch in the 100th minute so that thousands of England fans could go nuts over the win. He's been playing well for London Irish, so its great news that Robbo has decided to give him another shot at international duty.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Talisman or Albatross?

In her comment to one of my recent posts, Vixxxie1 raises an interesting question - does my presence at any given game act as a talisman or the Albatross-like kiss of death for the team I'm supporting?

This set me thinking, so I had a quick look at the stats for the games I have been to. It can get a bit confusing as I have several teams which I like - and my support will change depending who's playing (fickle creature that I am!).

It basically goes like this - first choice for country is of course, England (or the Lions every four years). In the Premiership, it has to be Saracens, then Bath. But then I've been to a game between London Irish and Wasps and who was I rooting for then? Not really sure. Wasps, probably! So these figures (as with any stats) should be taken with a pinch of NaCl (that's a chemically geeky joke, for those not in the know).

To summarise, if Saracens are playing then I'm gunning for them (although if its against Bath then my attentions get distracted by a certain Second Row beef), otherwise its Bath. The stats for Bath and Wasps were only counted when Sarries weren't playing them, to give their totals below (Lost column includes draws too):

Team Won Lost % Won
England 3 3 50%
Lions 0 1 0%
Sarries 12 11 52%
Bath 1 2 33%
Wasps 2 1 67%

So what to make of it all? Not a lot really, except to say it's a fairly small sample! And my presence doesn't seem to make any difference either way. Maybe I should start supporting Wasps on these figures? No, I thought not...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

That End Of Term Feeling

Sarries had a good first half hour of their game against London Irish, but then seem to go into meltdown mode - Irish scored several easy interception tries, but Sarries should have been awareded a Penalty Try by the ref after Thomas Castaignède was brought down off the ball chasing his own chip-ahead kick to the line. In the end, Irish finished up 30-18 and are now heading to the Guinness Premiership semifinal playoff against the Tigers.

Several noteable milestones at this game - Bob Casey captained the team on his 101st appearance; Kieron Dawson lead them out of the tunnel for his 200th and last game. And Saracens' Kyran Bracken played his last competitive game for the club he's served for so long. When he finally came off the field, substituted in the second half, he got a well-deserved standing ovation from all the crowd - a lovely gesture on the part of the Irish supporters, who probably rue the fact that the Dublin-born Bracken won his 51 International caps for England, not Ireland!

I decided to let the SSA bus take the strain, and caught it from Sarries' old ground at Bramley Road, to Reading. This meant quite a lengthy drive, first in the car then on the bus. So I took May's Rugby World and my iPod with me for entertainment.

What did I listen to on the journey? Quite a varied playlist, including the hauntingly beautiful Takk by Sigur Rós; the ever-brilliant Paul Mounsey's second album, Nahoo Too; In Between Dreams by Jack Johnson; Hopes & Fears by Keane (really looking forward to their new album in June) plus a bit of a blast from the past in the form of a playlist mix by ELO. An eclectic bunch really.

Friday, May 05, 2006

They Think It's All Over...

... It will be soon! At least, if you're talking the regular rugby season. Tomorrow sees the last round of the Guinness Premiership, and I'm off to see Saracens play London Irish in Reading. As previously mentioned, Irish did rather well last time, stuffing Wasps and scoring 9 tries, so I'm not wildly optimistic about Sarries' chances! But we'll see.

Which leads me on to the fact that, once the regular matches are done, and the playoffs completed, there's little rugby action to look forward to until early September! What am I going to do with myself? Well, probably catch up with all those jobs which have slid in favour of a quick visit to Watford to watch the Men In Black. Cut the grass more often, tidy the house. You know the kind of thing. All terminally dull! But I'm sure I can probably dream up some other displacement activities to be going on with during the summer.

Will post some links to my photos when they are ready.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Making An Exhibition of Ourselves

FakeBob and I held our first joint photographic exhibition last Saturday, at a lovely artsy cafe called The Flea Pit, near Columbia Road. I know it doesn't sound very salubrious, but its a great space for a little showing off, and we enjoyed the company of many friends who looked over our pictures and said nice things about them.

Just an ego-massaging exercise? Perhaps. But let's face it, if you don't blow your own trumpet, no-one else will. And since FakeBob has already made the first tentative steps towards a career in New Media (by finally resigning from the 9-5 drudgery after months of threatening), and I'm seriously thinking about it too, a bit of self-promotion was just what the doctor ordered.

Not only did I show some of my more general photography, such as landscapes, flower closeups and architecture, but I also had a selection of four fine rugby images, which seemed to go down well (not only with the ladies!). They were: Owen Takes A Lineout, Barkley Wrapped Up, Kick On The 22 and The Green Giant

After the event, about a dozen of us toddled off to a great Vietnamese restaurant in Old Street, Cay Tre. Excellent grub and very reasonable! A lovely way to round off the day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oops, it's been a while...

My good intentions of regular postings here have obviously gone by the wayside somewhat, since its about 5 weeks since I last bothered! Slap my wrists.

One of the things that prompted my renewed interest was seeing a friend over the weekend who was delighted with her shiny new blog. I've got one too, I said. So I gave her the address, and she has been posting comments here ever since! I'll get you back when I figure out where yours is, Mrs! ;-)

Anyway, to maintain the rugby theme (there was one originally, remember?), here's a link to the photos I took from the very exciting game I went to last Friday night, Saracens vs Leicester Tigers. The Tigers just edged us out 13-12, but Sarries kept up the pressure till the last, with a 12-phase passage of play finishing just short of their try line about 2 minutes after the "timesup" had passed. Hey ho.

I'm off to see the last game of the season next weekend, London Irish vs Sarries in Reading. A daunting prospect since Irish managed to put a staggering 9 tries past Wasps last weekend! Yikes.