Thursday, 31 May 2007

The West Indies

I remember when the West Indies came to England in 1984, because they really messed up my summer. I was at my cricket-obsessed peak at this stage, and I was bursting with pride about the England team. We had the best players in the world - Botham! Lamb! Big Bob Willis! How could we fail?!

Me and my slightly flared cricket trousers waited with breathless anticipation and I rushed off to Old Trafford to see a one dayer. As expected we reduced the Windies to about 80 for 7. This was so easy!

Viv Richards then played the best one-day innings ever, 189 not out, and we lost massively.

Then the Test series, and the Windies smashed us into tiny, humiliating smithereens, played their very loud horns, had the coolest wrist bands and left. 5-0 defeat.

I was left bereft, emotionally crushed, and I also wore a really bad jumper to the School Disco that year and everyone laughed at me very deeply.

It was a low point, to say the least.


But now it's all changed. And I've changed too. West Indies cricket is dying. I am taking no pleasure at all from this present series. I want the West Indies to come back, the magnificent, proud force of old. But they won't. Not without help.

Instead the ICC sit and watch and talk about giving money to Zimbabwean cricket, as though propping up a murderous regime will somehow help develop the game - and as though this is even the point. It makes me so angry the way priorities get mixed up.

West Indies cricket is dying on its feet. The ICC must deal with this, yet they do nothing. People are dying in Zimbabwe every day from a disgusting despot, and our politicians sit and talk, and think only of legacy.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Hello / Goodbye

Goodbye: uni card, text books, dodgy lecture theatres, 10am starts, statistics, £2 lunches, trainers, curiosity, Aldgate East tube station, wondering what the hell I'm doing, time to read, time to think, musty exam halls.

Hello: staff pass, suit, ironing, billable hours, timesheets, expenses, wondering what the hell I'm doing, rush hour, words like 'client facing', clients, the Friday feeling, the Monday feeling.

Sunday, 27 May 2007


God I'm tired. And bored. And now I'm ill too. No running for 3 days. No fun of any kind. It's all been outlawed. I ache all over, including mentally. Yes that's right I'm having a moan - it's my sodding blog.

Anyway, placebos. Did you know that placebos really are medically proven? That they can even reverse the effect of an active drug? That they can be 50% as powerful as morphine in terms of pain relief?

To a very large extent this depends on the context in which the drug is given, and your confidence arising from that context. In other words, a nice clean hospital with a nice understanding Doctor who shares your taste in music and fine wine and the placebo effect will be strong.

And talking of context and drugs, tolerance. It's to do with the body producing a compensatory and preparatory effect in the opposite direction of the drug. How weird is that? In other words, heroin addicts taking their regular dose in a strange location are at far greater risk of overdosing than in their regular squat with sole piss-stained sofa. That piss-stained sofa helps the body prepare for its regular hit of smack! Useful.

The description of heroin incidentally was 'initial euphoria followed by profound sense of well-being'.

Oh God whatever. I want a placebo now. I want a hospital. I want my Mum. Failing that, just pass that fucking heroin.

Friday, 25 May 2007

No Justice

I had the chance to go to the European Cup Final and eventually decided not to, mainly because I had not attended any of the previous rounds, and would inevitably have taken the seat of someone who had, but could afford to pay less. That to me is not the action of someone who loves Liverpool FC.

Having read the press and spoken to two (separate) mates who did go, that looks like a good decision.

Rumours of charging barricades and knowingly using fake tickets now appear to be true.

This is a difficult thing to have to admit, but it seems the behaviour of some of the Liverpool fans was a disservice not just to the club, but to the memory of the 96 supporters who died at Hillsborough.

I have no doubt that the situation was handled badly - though not as bad as at Hillsborough - but we must be responsible enough to ensure the authorities are not given the chance to cock it up. We must acknowledge there is a problem with very large games abroad and the culture of 'getting in' no matter what. It is a very serious situation, which could easily end in another disaster.

Of course there is a problem with ticket allocation and with the policing, but we must look at ourselves too.

This club is about more than football. It is the greatest club in the world, and it does have the best fans in the world, in any sport. But this isn't a right. We must remain vigilant. Hillsborough is, and must always be, part of our heritage and we must never forget what really happened that day (see below). But if the memory is to be truly honoured we must also be vigilant of our own fans' behaviour at all times. Unless we acknowledge that we have a problem with the European-adventure-get-in-at-all-costs type of fan then we risk debasing this great club, and the memory of the 96.

Thursday, 24 May 2007


Liverpool lost in the Champions League Final this evening. Having outplayed Milan for most of the first half, they fell behind, and were then punished again on the break before scoring a late consolation.

In brighter news, you'll never walk alone.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Eve of the Big One

So here we are. It's the evening before my second degree-level statistics exam in 3 months and the time where I wonder how I ever got myself into this mess. It's not the maths it's the conceptual stuff I struggle with. I mean, how does Rsquare change resemble a semi partial correlation? Can anyone tell me? Actually, can anyone tell me?

Anyway, it's foot to the floor tonight. Talking of feet and floors, just done my record round park of 16:38. Feeling very pleased.

I'm hoping the analogy of running performance and general performance holds.

I love you all like prize winning micro art.

Sunday, 20 May 2007


with the lesbians I hear you say. Alright. It's just, you know, exciting. And I am a Tiger.

I tell you what else is exciting, coming back to London. I've been in Liverpool for a while and whilst I love it with all my heart, it feels like I am trapped in some suburban nightmare when I'm at my Mum's. It's a place where people actually care about what next door are doing with their petunias, TV only has 5 channels and people still write down phone messages on the fridge.

My Mum is really becoming a powerful Christian. And my Stepdad continues to turn into a sort of full time gambler, without the spiralling fixation with drink, drugs and high class prostitutes. He likes a late night whiskey though and loves a good swear. It is possible that he is turning into the anti-Christ and my Mum is the risen daughter of Jesus and that the the ultimate battle between good and evil is being fought out in some sort of modern morality play in a semi just outside Liverpool.

But life there is so different, and it really feels a bit suffocating. I think because it reminds me of being so bored growing up, waiting for the next cricket match to begin as the sun baked down on the concrete alleyway next to our house and afternoons went on for days.

Saw my Grandparents. My Grandad was on good form. "What was your last exam?" "Occupational psychology". "Oh I see. (Without pausing) Well, better than Constipational Psychology I suppose".


Thursday, 17 May 2007

My new friends

One of the best things about taking time out from work has been immersing myself in brand new things with brand new people in a brand new way. It's bracing!

Now, instead of the usual corporate homogeneity, I am friends with precisely:

A. One big friendly Greek lesbian
B. One black American gay man from the South. He likes saying Giddyup! And so do I.
C. One Martin Sixsmith - the guy involved in that Jo Moore scandal and who wrote this brilliant book about Litvinenko.
D. A Humanist. A real live Humanist. He believes in Humanism.
E. Another lesbian, this time chirpy and Australian.
(I used to think - like George Costanza - that lesbians looked at me and thought 'THAT'S why I'm a lesbian' but now I'm out there laughing away with them like there's no tomorrow).
F. Two Germans and a Hindu.
G. Other people who aren't lesbians.

So there you go. My diversity quotients are so on the up. The Australian lesbian calls me 'Tiger' and this makes me chuckle every time I think of it. And part of me also thinks:

I am a Tiger.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

291 - 295

Arctic Monkeys - Fave Worst Nightmare
Ben Folds - Rockin the suburbs
Magic Numbers - Those the Brokes




Why is it that the only Australian sportsman that I actually want to do well - the only one - is Harry bloody Kewell.

This fat idiot last played for Liverpool in the Champions League Final, 2005. Then he sat on the bench for 2 years collecting his £80k per week, nursing a tender groin.

Now it seems he is fit again, just in time for...

oh! the Champions League final 2007.

My World Cup Predictions

I predicted the following:

1. Australia to win - correct
2. Beating India in final - close, but no cigar. Actually not even close.
3. England crash out in super 8s - correct.
4. Aus will lose to Sri Lanka in super 8s - no no no
5. Top scorers - Dravid and Hussey - could I be more wrong?
6. Bell top scorer - wrong again
7. Highest wicket taker Freddie - can't even be bothered to look
8. Fred to score no runs - spot on


Now I predict:

1. England to beat Windies 3-0.
2. Cook top run scorer
3. Hoggard top wicket taker

Monday, 14 May 2007

If it's any consolation

I bore myself sometimes.

Running Lessons

All I do at the moment is run and work. My record round the park now stands at 16:42. There seems to be a lot of overlap with running and exams or big projects:

1. You have to start each run well. This establishes momentum for the whole enterprise. You feel like you can do it and that the time being spent has purpose. And the purpose is to succeed.

2. Once that has been established and stabilised, you are in the race. This is it. Now try to relax. Checking times at landmarks sustains motivation.

Eventually you will ask 'can't I just stop now?' especially if you are behind the clock. But realise these demons are part of the test. So the answer is no.

3. Finally it really begins to hurt. But this is because you are in sight of your goal. Now throw everything at it. Turn the music up. Keep trying even if it feels slow. It may not be. Think about how lucky you are to be able to run. Think about the integrity of trying hard. Keep running. Surge at the end.

Success is about every stolen inch.


Well, I think I've got one. Not a proper one, like the one I had at Uni who had the worst BO anyone has ever had ever and who kept following me around like well, a bad smell, but one all the same.

I can't be too specific for obvious reasons (I need to become more anonymous on the blog I think, so I can start to properly slag people off, especially with my imminent return to work) but it has all the hallmarks and I am currently working out responses.

I do get this occasionally, and that isn't being boastful, far from it. It's because I am very friendly to everyone I meet. Except of course girls I fancy and then I become Captain Anti-Flirt. My most recent ex claims that she spent a year doing the most ridiculous flirting and that still I didn't notice. Well I DID sort of notice, but was so determined not to flirt back that she'd never have known.

Ha! That taught her. Sort of.

A Promise

Let's hear it for Dan.

1. He's just had a baby with his wife.
2. He's got a new job and actually enjoys it.
3. He can recite pi to 20 decimal places (as can I).
4. He has a wry sense of humour. Wry.
5. He's 'one of us'.

I really do find increasingly there are two types of people in this world. Its something about trust. Decency. Humour is an important bonus. It's something about curiosity as well I think, (as in interest in the world not as in additional toes or lumpy eyebrows, for example). Oh and reliability. I recently asked him to work out some odds for me and within minutes a complex spreadsheet came back, which told me the probability of one of my exam topics not coming up was 17%.

Whatever it is, he's got it. There are not that many former colleagues I can say that about. That's why, today I am proud to call Dan a friend*.

So, this one's for you Dan.

* As well as technical adviser to my nascent blog and business.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

My Grandfather

The photo below was given to me for my family tree research. It shows my Grandfather, who is in the centre standing next to his Dad. His Mum is sitting down with his brother and his sister is on his right.

It’s funny to think of this being taken in about 1932. My Grandfather looks slightly awkward, shy even.

It’s also strange to see his Dad (my Great Grandfather) and his enormous flared suit. I think they all look happy, don't they?

It feels healthy to think of my Grandfather as a teenager, as I tend only to think of him as an old man. But he wasn’t always. Once he was a teenager in funny trousers standing next to his Dad in the sunshine.

But within 7 years he would be at war.

He fought under Montgomery in the 8th Army against Rommel. These were the battles that helped turn the tide of the whole war. He was injured before El Alamein by a tank mortar and was whisked across the desert, drifting in and out of consciousness. Coming to in Tobruk Field Hospital, he remembers an enormous woman looming over him with a razor, which he says was enough for him to pass out again.

He was finally transferred to a hospital in Alexandria where he says he was surrounded by pretty nurses and he made up silly songs about their names. He was eventually shipped home from Cape Town, thousands of miles away, so they must've been rubbish. His shell injury still troubles him today, but of course, he never complains.

By the age of 30 he was starting a new life in Liverpool. He fathered 4 daughters and ended up as Stage Manager of the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre. I remember I used to think he was actually off to a real 'Play House' when I was young.

Fast forward to today and here he is, at 87.
He's still charming the ladies when Granny's back is turned. (And sometimes when it isn't).

He's still able to laugh at himself. Still makes up songs about people whilst doing the dishes. Still disgraces himself at Christmas.

Still calls me 'Stinkerbomb'.

Still stands for all that's best in Britain.

Still my hero.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

A good day for optimists

Amazing scenes in Norn Iron today as peace escalates even further and the NI Assembly takes over. Genuinely unbelievable to see Paisley and McGuinness on the same stage. Tony Blair told us today was a good day for optimists and indeed it is.

Though isn't every day a good day for optimists?

The 8th May

Enjoyable fun can be had by singing 'The 8th May' to the tune of 'The Ace of Spades' in a heavy metal style, a la Motorhead and their 1980 hit of that name.


I am a world class procrastinator when faced with lots of work.

If there is any doubt about this you should know that I own 291 CDs. Usefully, I have just counted them.

Right, back to work. Feeling good. Feeling strong and focuse...

ooh look! TEXT MESSAGE!!!

Monday, 7 May 2007

Things I noticed today

1. I am bored of revision
2. It's really very windy today
3. The park now closes at 9pm. 9pm!
4. A dog letting itself out of a garden by reaching up to the handle on the gate. Clever.
5. I am shit at statistics.
6. I like Scandinavian accents.
7. I have no idea what stamps to put on envelopes any more. I usually just shove 3 on and hope for the best.
8. I am really, really bored of revision.
9. My flat has never been tidier (see 8).
10. Sometimes running round the park feels easy and beautiful, other times it's a chore. Today = chore. Yesterday = beautiful.
11. If you don't notice the wind when you're running, it's because you're running with it.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Rational vs Intuitive decision-making

Yes, it is simplistic to differentiate between the two using absolutes. But we all know that some people tend to go with their gut feel, and others go with their specially designed weighted spreadsheet.

This reminds me of a story about Charles Darwin, who was nursed for a time by his cousin Emma Wedgwood.
Eventually he selected (boom boom) her as a wife, but only after drawing up a list of pros and cons, which included the immortal line:

'Constant companion and a friend in old age...better than a dog anyhow'

Anyhow....I recently did a study which had the intriguing conclusion that, in terms of career contentment, the rational decision-making style has (not surprisingly) been more successful.

HOWEVER, there are signs that this is changing and that now those who are most content with their careers rely on intuitive decision-making. Following your heart and not your head is glib, but it does fit with the idea of a 'boundaryless' career, as a rational style did with the more 'fixed' career paths of the past.

Intuitives have long been told to think more rationally. But I wonder if it is now time for rationals (like me) to be told to think less rationally as a counterpoint to our natural style?

Saturday, 5 May 2007

The hierarchy of needs

Like Freud, Maslow (1908-70) argued that our own internal motivations are a central aspect of our personality. Unlike Freud Maslow was not a crusty old perv, who practised only on white middle class jews and linked all our ills to fixations with orifices.

In Maslow's view we are driven by a hierarchy of needs.

At the bottom our most basic needs are food, water, oxygen, rest, freedom from George Galloway etc. Until these are met, we cannot be motivated by anything else.

Next comes safety and comfort. So shelter, security, and perhaps that luxury goose feather duvet from Heal's all count at this level.

Then attachment needs. When Paul Simon sang he was a rock and an island he was wrong. (Yes that was a metaphor). Humans have a basic need to love and to be loved, and not in the pert nipple sense either.

Next comes self esteem - we want to be recognised as the fabulous people we tell ourselves we are in the mirror. I am not sure where Anya Hindmarch bags come in, maybe that is Maslow's point.

Now we seek harmony and beauty and order, almost like a naked revue.

Finally, we seek self-actualisation. This is a concept which means achieving our full potential. The drive to self-actualise is fundamental to human nature (Maslow argues) if our other needs have been met.

So, er, get on and self actualise if you aren't already. Or at least have a nice cup of tea so your other needs are being met.

You'll never walk alone

God I love watching this, the last minute is spine tingling.

Friday, 4 May 2007


...but I do have the following observations:

1. Why is everyone going mental shopping? Every time I pick up the paper there's queues of stupid women lining up at 6am in Oxford Street to pick up some shite product. Just stop it.

2. Kate Moss is rubbish, and not even that fit anyway. What's the point of Kate Moss?

Moss: Pointless

3. That ethical 'I am not plastic bag' bag they all want was made by exploiting Chinese orphans and their Grannies. There is a much better one that says something like 'This is not an exploitative fashion statement masquerading as progress' or something. Or there should be.

4. My friend sent me this article when he read my Liverpool FC blog. If you like reading articles Liverpool (Lipewl), you should read it too. But you don't have to.

5. I wish you all a happy Bank Holiday. The Holiday of Banks.

6. When I worked at the Foreign Office, I once held a meeting with the then Minister for Sport, Tony Banks. He advocated (to his somewhat surprised South African counterpart) that the Olympics be drug-enabled, ie the athletes can take what they want in terms of performance enhancers whether it killed them or not. I had to bring the meeting to a swift close. Tony Banks is a Chelsea supporter. See previous post.

7. I love you all like my tiny children.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Money can't buy you love

Last night was an unbelievable night. Chelsea are everything I hate about modern football, Liverpool everything that remains great. Chelsea are nouveau riche oiks, whose unprecedented, unlimited wealth from a Russian billionaire has brought them recent success. Liverpool are a people's club, a team of their City. A team people identify with in terms of the narrative of their lives.

Now we've beaten them again when it mattered most and their manager - who called us a small club - once again whinges that the best team lost. Hilarious.

But I was interested in the wider metaphor that sprang to mind last night.

The brilliant Simon Barnes drew comparisons between the clubs' two best players: Gerrard of Liverpool and Lampard of Chelsea. "Lampard changes a game by what he does. Gerrard changes it by what he is", says Barnes.

This is true. Gerrard is a man of emotion; figurehead for an emotional team in an emotional city. This is why he wins critical games at critical times with blockbusting goals - he has theatricality coursing through his veins. Lampard is a 21st century player, 'carrying his wealth and fame with a becoming ease'. This matches his team, Chelsea. They are about knowing style and sophistication, like West London itself. Passion for them is slightly uncool.

And this is where the metaphor - for me - gets interesting. For what we were watching was a clash of money against meaning. And as I watched Anfield last night, with the flags and songs, the sheer volume of a People's Club once more defying the odds, it became even clearer to me what takes priority. When it comes down to it, it's meaning that wins.

And with passion in your life, you'll never walk alone.