KT has just reached a massive target in her job and has been rewarded with a mystery prize. I fear I’m going to be very disappointed. To me a mystery prize should be something like a large block of wood, 1m x 1m x 1.5m high. Is that the prize? Is it a table? Is it a a piece of art? Is it just a case and the prize is inside? Why the hell did they give this to me? The prize just keeps on giving as mystery never ends. Sdaly I doubt we’ll be calling in Scooby Doo to help solve the riddle of KT’s prize.
Here we are one month one from the wonderful introduction of the smoking ban in Scotland. There have been contradictory reports on effect the ban has had on the takings of Scottish pubs, after three weeks the BBC reports most landlords say business is booming, while the Edinburgh Evening News (Scottish Paper of the Year) reports after four weeks profits have gone up in smoke. Either way there are two new issues to consider, one is wonderful, the other is horrendous. Before I reveal these secrets, let’s take a quick look at how other businesses have tried to capitalise on this new healthier country. Sign-a-rama in Dalry has an A-frame outside its stop advertising that it can make all the custom no smoking signs you need – very clever. Next door to it we have Haddows (a very low-brow off licence) with another A-frame reading “come in and talk to our staff about our cigarette prices”. Unbelievable. Doesn’t that come under tobacco advertising and isn’t that also illegal in the UK?
Now when you approach a nice looking pub or bar you don’t have to wander inside to see what the clientele is actually like, a good representation will be hanging outside the front door as the least attractive enticement into the venue. No amount of fancy external signs can now hide a seedy, trainspotting-esque bunch of regulars. On the other hand those lovely tables that live outside bars for a few months to savour what little sunshine we get … forget about them. There will be no sunshine if you somehow manage to get a table, just a large grey cloud of carcinogens. Neil has suggested the reverse the ban in the summer months, forcing smokers to stay inside and let everyone go outside and enjoy their intoxicating beverages whilst soaking up deadly UV rays without any protection (who wears sun cream in Scotland?)…
As predicted Liverpool complete a wonderful FA Cup double triumph in Manchester of all places by beating Chelsea 2-1 to reach the final against either Middlesbrough or West Ham (playing tomorrow). Despite Liverpool, especially Harry Kewell, playing better than Chelsea, the real reason they lost the game was due to asinine tactics to start with. Liverpool capitalised on two unusual poor defensive mistakes, the first by Lampard failing to stay in the wall, to give themselves a great chance to make the final. Chelsea got their goal from two poor defensive mistakes in the same move, with Riise and Reina at fault. What annoyed me most was every time a Chelsea player was touched they just dropped dead to the ground and got a free kick. Even the commentators noted that it seems the shoulder charge has been banned, especially against Chelsea.
It is very strange and boring that this was the *tenth* time Liverpool have played Chelsea in the last two years and guess what the opening game of next season will be … Liverpool vs Chelsea in the Community Shield (FA Cup winners vs. Premiership Champions). I hope Middlesbrough win to get through to the final as it means they get into Europe next year by a secret bat-cave route. A good friend of mine Andy (you wouldn’t believe that by some of the comments on this site!) is a big Middlesbrough fan but I have no doubt Liverpool will triumph against whoever wins the other semi final. If we can knock out Man Utd and Chelsea on the way to final we are not going to fail at the last hurdle. Expect a jubilant link back to this post on May 14th!
Brian Noble’s first game in charge of Wigan gets him of to a winning start as they beat Huddersfield Giants 46-14 away from home. Wigan played far better attacking rugby, rather than just going one out they kept the ball alive and swung it out to the wings far quicker. I still think he’ll bring in a world class stand off, Huddersfield’s own legend Robbie Paul would not be a bad option, but this victory was far from a surprise. All ten of Wigan’s coaches in the last ten years (!) have won their first game in charge and Ian Millward’s only win this season was against Huddersfield at the JJB. Noble also delayed his welcoming press conference by over an hour as he wanted to stay on the training field trying to tighten up the defence! It’s been quite a strange situation at the bottom of the table, Wigan are last, then Catalan Dragons and then third from bottom are Castleford. It is actually Castleford who are technically bottom as Wigan *will* make the play offs this year (top six) and Catalan are immune from relegation for three years!
Avid Liverpool fan and FA chief executive Brian Barwick, seen biting his nails during the final 15 minutes, has just presented the much coveted FA Youth Cup trophy to Liverpool in Manchester City’s City of Manchester Stadium. Despite losing by two goals to nil, Miki Roque’s third at Anfield and very sound Hamann-esque defensive display in the second half finally sealed the game. Next up is Liverpool vs Chelsea for a spot in the real FA Cup Final, playing tomorrow evening just across Manchester at Old Trafford (better than going all the way to Birmingham). I’ve already said I’m confident Liverpool will triumph and then go on to lift the trophy, a la the Champions’ League last year.
The BBC are running a story about an online petition to *support* animal research. I’ve been in favour of it for years and they claim the “silent majority” support it too. If you’re one of them you’ll probably want to browse this BBC article and then take a look at the petition here. There is also some older but related “news” about the shutting of a guinea pig farm.
Former Hull winger Paul Anderson shined brightest of all tonight as Liverpool’s Under 18 side dominated Manchester City by three goals to nil to virtually lift the FA Youth Cup. Yes, it’s not over yet, there is still a second leg to come. Essentially we at half time in the final and who on earth could come back from 3-0 down? There were several players who showed a lot of promise and four of the team are currently training at Melwood with the first team squad. The two centre backs, Jack Hobbs and Godwin Antwi both showed maturity beyond their years and are deservedly playing week in week out against Premiership opposition in the reserves. Interestingly Hobbs is being played in midfield to get him more comfortable passing and using the ball better. Adam Hammill seems to be a real bundle of tricks but does need to work a bit harder and deliver a bit more consistency. That said anyone who can lob the Cardiff goalkeeper from the half way line is something special! Finally we come to my man-of-the-match, Paul Anderson. Put simply he is ready to play the last few games of the season in the first team. Great pace, wonderful crossing and also a great header of the ball too. In the opening minutes he did a lovely bicycle kick the went wide but then 15 minutes from time he hit a sensational scissor kick that smashed against the crossbar as the keeper flapped some distance from the ball. As it came down to earth it hit the keeper and agonisingly bounced just wide of the goal. I have never seen such a perfectly executed scissor kick and the speed of it made it literally a blur in slow motion. In related news Liverpool desperately need to change their sponsor. Carlsberg have been great but alcohol advertising is banned in several countries (including Norway) and the lucrative Middle East is off limits because of religious laws banning alcohol. Furthermore the youth team had to play without a sponsor on their shirts because they are under 18!
So it seems the country has screwed up again. All this hysteria over bird flu, all these draconian restrictions hastily put in place were all for nothing. It turns out the swan that died of bird flu and posed a threat to all our lives was not a native British mute swan, it was in fact a Brazilian electrician swan. Apparently it’s very easy to confuse the two although questions remain of why it took almost a fortnight to identify and re-assess the threat. The official word is that they just got very lucky and it should have taken the more usual six weeks and then a further year long enquiry to confirm the fact that the Brazilian swan posed *no threat* whatsoever to the rest of us.
Hallelujah! After a little bit of recent suggestive poking and carefully phrased motivation, the most annoying bug in OpenOffice.org has been fixed! That right, the screw up with hiding (suppressing) blank paragraphs, issue 56195, has finally been solved by the rather wonderful yet mysterious OS (I don’t know his/her real name). This bug has been dragging on since October 2005 and believe me it was a hard one to track down. As with the most complex of bugs there is usually a simple cause and I’m delighted to say that when workspace os80 gets integrated into the main code (due towards the end of April) we can test the fix and then upgrade away to the final 2.0.3 release at the end of May. I can now stop my quest to bypass this bug by writing an entire new mail merge routine in OOBasic! Do you think proprietary software would have a minor bug fix like this to market within seven months? Updated: Another email has just landed in my Inbox saying that OS has also fixed issue 52629, the printer properties box does not come up when printing a form letter (a mail merge)! What a guy/girl (that’s not slander, I’m just not sure what sex OS is)! Maybe today’s the day for fixing all the issues reported by phillg – if I knew it would have been alphabetical I would have got Andy to report them!
No fancy amusing title here, just shock (no awe). Ian Millward has been sacked as coach of my team (I own them), the Wigan Warriors after just six months in charge *and* having joined from Wigan’s bitterest of rivals, St Helens. Several new players came in during the winter and Andy Farrell left to switch codes but so far this season we have only won one of our eight Super League games. Millward did stunning things with St Helens, he turned them into World Champions yet he managed to miss out on the play offs last year and put us rock bottom of the table so far this year. Was it all a cunning plan by Saints to pretend to sack their coach for swearing and have him join their local rivals only for him to humiliate them? I doubt it, Millward is one of the very best. How can we replace him? First off I’d start by stealing Wigan’s own legend Shaun Edwards from his position as head coach with Rugby Union side Wasps. Maybe then splash a bit of cash around to get a replacement forward (as all of ours are injured) and then a world class scrum half, someone good enough to polish the boots of that guy from the 80s/90s, Shaun somebody…