Wednesday, 23 December 2009

All That Jazz

Our team Christmas lunch this year was at Ronnie Scott's jazz club, where you can enjoy an afternoon of food and wine accompanied by sets from three different performers (credit to Dei, our editor, for this inspired idea!) We heard a piano trio, then a great tenor saxophonist and finally a female vocalist, who really whipped the audience up into a festive frenzy, especially with her versions of classic Christmas numbers done in the musical style of the audience's choosing (the dub reggae 'Silent Night' was hilarious). It was a pretty tremendous way to spend an afternoon.

However, part of the deal is that everyone joins in for a big number at the end on kazoos (nicely laid out with the cutlery at each place setting). This was great fun, but even better was when they asked for volunteers to come up for a jam on the famous Ronnie Scott's stage, which has been graced by innumerable all-star names from the music world, past and present.

I didn't need asking twice, but I did let Jeremy go first for a microphone level test; old habits die hard. What's that? Is there a recording of this spectacular event? I thought you'd never ask:

And massive thanks to Alex for his off-the-cuff iPhone camerawork :)

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Overheard #99

Our database laughs in the face of so-called numerical rules:
"So you're telling me that 1 & 2 are actually 2 & 3 and 1 is now zero? OK..."

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Just Ask

OK, ready? Ask me anything:

I await the results of this experiment with interest (and not a little trepidation...)

Overheard #98

Sometimes I wonder about our IT security procedures:
"So we need to switch off the two-headed dog..."

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Fresh Prince

Now I'm not a massive gamer, but I do remember spending hours of my youth on things like Donkey Kong (on my Dragon32), Jet Set Willy (on a Spectrum borrowed from Guppy's Computer Club in York) and later on, the wonderful Prince Of Persia. The latter is being turned into a blockbuster with Jake Gyllenhaal as we speak and someone recently posted a link to original game designer Jordan Mechner's journals on Twitter:

I can honestly say I haven't been so utterly engrossed for a long time. It's a compelling set of insights into the mindset of a 20-something game designer in the mid-80s, on the cusp of something groundbreaking in the video games world (whilst also harbouring designs on becoming a screenwriter), but also getting to grips with the mundanity of passing his driving test and getting wary landladies to rent him an apartment in San Francisco. He digitizes his little brother running, hanging from walls, swordfighting, etc which forms the basis for the award-winning almost-human (for the time) animation in the game. Imagine being that boy. Wow.

And moments like this:
"But the real breakthrough this week was invisible: I moved a bunch of stuff around so the main game code can use the auxiliary language card. Basically, I’ve just freed up an extra 12K. That gives me some breathing room I’ll sorely need [...] It was a good weekend."

12K = 12,288 bytes = a good weekend :)

Really worth a read.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Overheard #97

The perils of ordering last-minute Christmas presents over the phone:
"Hello? Yes, I ordered a lip-gloss and you appear to have delivered me a designer beaver..."
I never heard the outcome.


Some thoughts on the changes that have been/are being made to the web interface of everyone's favourite waste of time, Twitter. I'm sure much of this is echoed elsewhere on the intertubes but I moan about this stuff every day and I thought I'd put it down in words. Feel free to ignore me.


I like the new in-line retweeting button/function; it makes it simple to pass on things that have caught my eye in my timeline. However, the UI is not brilliant, as follows:

1) Why is the Retweet button placed where the Reply button normally is? For users who have protected their updates (who you can't retweet like this) the Reply button is far right. For users who haven't, the Retweet button is suddenly far right and Reply jumps inside. This makes no sense:

2) If I retweet something, the picture in the timeline shows the person who originally tweeted it as well as a little grey icon to indicate it is a retweet. Fine, I'm all for credit where credit's due. But I also want to know why it has suddenly shown up in my timeline i.e. who reweeted it to their followers, of which I am one - I want to know the credibility of the retweet, if you like. At the moment, there is a tiny line of text informing of this, easily missed and not great UI:

As Alex has just shown me, Tweetie does this much better, showing both pictures overlapping and a coloured corner indicator, making it much easier to spot when skimming through the timeline.

3) If I retweet something, the retweet doesn't show up in my timeline. It could be argued that this is duplication, but it's not; I would like a record of when I passed it on to my followers, so I can keep track of the conversation.

4) Replies to the retweet go to the original tweeter; again, this might be argued to be correct behaviour to accredit the originator, but my followers might reasonably want to say "Why have you retweeted this, you muppet?", rather than replying to the content of the original tweet. Perhaps an option to do so would be helpful.

5) It has become quite common practice to annotate retweets with your own comments, which you cannot do with the button; it is a straight carbon copy of the original tweet. Again, this could be argued to be fairer as there is no opportunity to mess with the wording, but being able to give a reason why you have sent this message on adds context to the retweet for your followers. However, I have heard that Twitter are actively working on this functionality.


There was much debate about how @replies work and indeed Twitter changed this quite early on, so people weren't swamped with every reply from everybody linked to anyone else in your follower list. However, who you put first when replying to a number of people will have a bearing on which of your followers can see it. For example:
fourstar @sarahbrown @greatbiglizard What the hell are you two babbling about?
is quite different from
fourstar @greatbiglizard @sarahbrown What the hell are you two babbling about?
in that only people who follow sarahbrown will see the first one and only people who follow greatbiglizard will see the second one. Admittedly, many people follow both of them (they're lovely people; why wouldn't you?) and would never even be aware of the issue but this feels like a bug to me. I can understand there might be a distinction between a 'reply' (at the start of a tweet) and a 'mention' (within a tweet) but surely someone who follows me and any one (or more) of the people I @reply to should see that tweet, no?

I'm sure I have more niggles (and maybe I should get out more) but I've missed 30 tweets since I started this so I'd better go and see what everyone is so excited about.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Modernisms #4

Oh look, it's another entry in the slightly intermittent Things You Wouldn't Have Heard Ten Years Ago:
#4: Please do not swear
More specifically, "Housemates, you are live on Channel 4; please do not swear" as shrieked by everyone's favourite hair colour advertisement, Davina McCall, at around 10pm each Friday night of the summer, when the 257 cameras cut live to the house and the imprisoned buffoons learned of their fate in the viewer-funded eviction vote. Of course, swearing (& arguing & fighting & crying & shagging) were the only honest reasons anyone tuned in to Big Brother so it always struck me as a little incongruous to have to tell them to stop on the most-watched episode of the week.

But there you are; that's the glamour of television.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Overheard #96

Getting ready for an office Christmas party:
"Are you actually wearing sector-specific cufflinks?"

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Overheard(ish) #95

Now I don't normally meander from genuinely overheard-with-ears items but this was the closing line on a colleague's recently-received email which was simply too good to pass up:
"Please advise your availability so that I can send an invite aftermath."
I am genuinely scared as to what that might be.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Overheard #94

They simply couldn't resist:
"I'm off to the panto next week"
"Oh no you're not..."

Saturday, 28 November 2009

I Came, I Saw, IKEA

Some things in life leave you flabbergasted. Spurs sticking nine past Wigan, the continued popularity of I'm A Celebrity, the existence of a massive Waitrose in Bromley, that kind of thing. However, today my flabber has been gasted in the very best of ways, at that bastion of Saturday-morning male despair known as...


We went (early) to look at some options for a wardrobe; as I'm sure you are aware, at IKEA these are legion. However, they had the one we liked, on display, with the doors we wanted, in a colour we didn't know existed but preferred, with the shelf/drawer/hanging options we wanted, in stock and for no apparent reason, at a discounted price.

When we spoke to the assistant (who had magically appeared as we started writing things on our tiny piece of paper with our tiny pencil) he shook his head with a wry smile, beckoned us over to a computer and helpfully printed the whole picking list out for us, with the correct internal codes for the warehouse guys. The warehouse guys were all at their post, waiting to take orders; they took ours, and went to get the doors and heavy stuff. Within 3 minutes they were back, with it all on a trolley and we were paying. We went to Home Delivery (these are 2.5m glass doors, no way I'm getting them in the Scenic...) who helpfully said we could have it all delivered*. Tomorrow. Sunday. SUNDAY! We left it with them before they could change their minds and drove home, speechless.

I am flabbergasted :)

* Obviously, my innate sense of Britishness is still nagging away, telling me that they'll actually turn up on Tuesday afternoon when no-one is home with a 7ft pot plant, three stuffed crocodiles and a gross of energy-efficient lightbulbs, but for now, big up IKEA.

Friday, 27 November 2009

First person... hack into Peter Mandelson's home internet connection and download an illegal torrent of Transformers 2 using his account, wins a date with Megan Fox.

Get to it, geek squadron.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

In A Spin

Another nice 'modern life is rubbish' piece from Mr Brooker (yes, I know it was a couple of weeks ago; here, have a biscuit)

Particularly fond of the final paragraph:
Someone needs to go further and launch a chain called Shambles, where all the familiar shortcomings are actively promoted as part of the "experience". The staff wear ironic dunce caps and vulture costumes; if you want to actually buy something, they walk to a stockroom 10 miles away in a neighbouring county to check its availability, methodically harass you into taking out five-year cover using a subtle combination of CIA "extraordinary rendition" psychological techniques and unashamed sulking, then arrange for it to be delivered at 7am by a surly man who'll arrive 10 hours late on purpose, deliberately bring a BD4437BX instead of the BD3389BZ you ordered, attach a magic hidden "hobbling" device that causes it to malfunction immediately before the next bank holiday weekend, screw your partner, scare your kids, wreck your life, and break wind on your doorstep as he's leaving. All of which is heavily advertised as an integral part of the service.
I really think someone should get on Dragons Den and pitch it. God, how I'd love to see their faces.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Modernisms #3

Astonishingly, a further instalment in the ongoing series of Things You Wouldn't Have Heard Ten Years Ago:
#3: I need to top up my Oyster
Travel used to be relatively straightforward. You wanted to go somewhere, you bought a cardboard ticket from a large man in a small office, you got on your chosen mode of transportation and you got off again at the other end. As that irritatingly ubiquitous meerkat might opine, "Simples!". However, rather like the proliferation of self-service checkouts in supermarkets, London Transport came up with* the rather super idea of allowing people to come and go as they please on the tube and buses, as long as they carried with them a credit-card sized, pre-paid 'token'. Brilliant. Or, in fact, not. Because as fast as they could introduce rules to govern the use of these cards, regular travellers were not only finding ways to bend the rules and commute for cheap and/or free (compulsory amongst the modern youth) but also that the system utterly failed to take account of relatively normal city-wide travel behaviour; unsuspecting Oyster punters were often charged the full single fare for entering a tube station at which they were told the line they wanted was closed but they would have to swipe their Oyster card to get out and try a different route. Brilliant money-making scam; less-effective urban transport policy. They claim to have fixed that now, although 2010 sees the Oyster system being extended to the entirety of the suburban London railway network. I know; God help us all.

* OK, they copied it from any number of other schemes around the world, not least the similarly-monikered Octopus card in Hong Kong, but give me a break here...

Monday, 23 November 2009

Harry Up

Spotted a poster on the tube at Moorgate for new film 'Harry Brown' starring the legendary Michael Caine. Looks like another great British urban movie which I hope to be able to check out sooner rather than later, but the killer for me is this awesome bit of driving drum & bass over the credits from Plan B (who also stars in the film...) with Chase And Status:

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Modernisms #2

Next in the somewhat hastily conceived series of Things You Wouldn't Have Heard Ten Years Ago:
#2: You have been poked
Now it is fairly well known on t'internet that for reasons best known to myself, I am a full-on 100% complete-and-utter Facebook refusenik. All the same, I am aware of some of the social functions provided by the aforementioned site, not least the idea that you can send someone a short greeting/message/reminder known as a 'poke'. Having given this some thought, I have come to the conclusion that this must be the equivalent of a Post-It note on your computer screen when you return from a lengthy liquid lunch which, in my experience, is never A Good Thing.

And anyway, it sounds rather rude :)

Friday, 20 November 2009

Overheard #93

A meeting room in the City, mid-morning:
"Yeah, there isn't enough room on the table for a projector, due to all the croissants."

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Modernisms #1

To vaguely acknowledge the impending end of this first decade of the millennium, I shall be bringing you a series of Things You Wouldn't Have Heard Ten Years Ago:
#1: Unexpected item in bagging area
The proliferation of self-service checkouts is gathering pace. Whilst any kind of staff-based cost saving was always going to be a winner with the retailer, there is now an opportunity for a visceral kick out of cheating the system in tiny ways e.g. holding one of the apples just off the scales whilst it is trying to weigh your fresh produce, entering a wildly inaccurate number of plastic bags used and of course, la pièce de résistance, placing an unexpected item in the bagging area.

I like that :)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Gone For Lunch

Back in a couple of weeks or so with tales of motorsport, 7-star weddings and golf...

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Grammar, We Love You

Scene: Sunday morning in a kitchen in SE6. A man is reading the newspaper and drinking a coffee. A small child in pyjamas enters.
"Daddy, we need to go to the shop."
"Oh, why's that Freyja?"
"Well, we don't have no apples."
"Right, we'd better do that later on then. By the way, it should really be 'We don't have ANY apples'"
"I know Daddy - that's why we need to go to the shop..."
I reckon she's got a future writing for Two Pints...

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Made Of People

I quite like this from Flickr:
We’ve launched People in Photos, a new feature that will help put a face to the Flickrverse and enable you to highlight members that you’ve photographed in a whole new way. People in Photos lets you add a member to a photo, find photos of people you know, and manage which photos you’re in.
I gather from various sources that being tagged on photos without your knowledge is the thing that people moan about most on Facebook (I wouldn't know, as I flatly refuse to be on Facebook). However, it does seem like Flickr has taken heed of all that and built in a load of personal choices about who can tag you, how you are alerted and removing yourself. You can also prefer to never be tagged if you wish.

So big Twitter/Flickr hook up in 2010, anyone? That would win.

UPDATE: of course, you can tweet your pics direct from Flickr already, you just set it up like publishing to a blog.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Overheard #92

Fair point:
"I'm not entirely sure, but I don't think bullshit comes in a web."

Sunday, 18 October 2009

But It's No iPhone...

You should probably read this:

"Oil is vital and Britain hasn't got much of it. I hope it won't be vital forever but it certainly still is. There are worse reasons to fight or appease than the procurement of a necessity. If we went to war for food, I doubt anyone would blame us."

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Overheard #91

A quiet Friday night in led to a confusing discussion about various actors:
"You know that chap? The hobbit. The one that plays the hobbit. The hobbity one"
Turns out in fact we were both talking about Orlando Bloom (who plays the elf).

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Colour Me Amazed

Those of you with psychology degrees may well scoff knowingly but I found this a most fascinating twenty minutes or so:

Monday, 12 October 2009

Told You So

All part of my master plan, see?

Contrary to the widely held belief that it is healthier to be slim, researchers in Japan found that the life expectancy of the overweight at 40 was six years longer than that of their thinner counterparts.
Pass the beer-battered deep-fried brie-stuffed foie gras parcels...

GO < CB < Me

Old Man Brooker spot on, again - I think the final paragraph should be read out in school assemblies across the land:

CB: Ageing isn't fun, but it's better than death

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Go For The Juggler*

This is pretty stunning, from the same guy who was Bowie's hands in Labyrinth:

* punchline to one of my favourite jokes: "How do you kill a circus?"

(via Neatorama)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Raven Mad

One of the ravens at the Tower of London is called 'Thor'. That's pretty damned cool.

However, another is called Colin. Not so much.

That'll Learn You

I read two almost identical stories in quick succession yesterday.

People are basically idiots, aren't they.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Pednatic To A Fault

I have a new favourite Wikipedia page (thanks, Doug)

Muphry's Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes.

Nice Tackle

I've just discovered Studs Up. Excellent.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Four Local Gay Parrots Go For A Pint

More Mitchell & Webb genius (and splendidly on topic for my little corner of the blogosphere)

You've Been Jugged

As I popped out for a bite to eat this morning, a smartly-dressed young man with exotic sideburns stopped me in the street, asked if I was Jewish and, confusingly, waved a lemon in my face.

Do I look like I am a) Jewish or b) riddled with scurvy or c) both? And what would you call the Jewish version of a chugger - a Jugger?

Obviously, I was tempted to grab his hand and shout 'Ken!' to find out more, but I was in desperate need of a bacon sandwich.


Friday, 2 October 2009

Time Travelling

Recently, I had cause to travel into central London on a Sunday, to watch England play Australia in a cricket match.

Obviously, this blatant disregard for the Sabbath meant I should have had an inkling but as I checked my options I found that the 1) Jubilee Line (to St John's Wood) was closed and that 2) Charing Cross trains were diverting to Blackfriars which might have been OK but for the fact that 3) Blackfriars tube station was closed for running repairs, so I thought about taking our other line to 4) Victoria but the trains to there were not running from Catford due to over-running engineering works, which meant I could still walk over the hill to 5) Honor Oak Park but Southern Trains were only running southbound from Platform 2 due to roof repairs which was the wrong direction for me so I had to wait a further 30 minutes for a reduced service from 6) Catford Bridge to London Bridge, get a shuttle to Charing Cross, take the Bakerloo to Baker Street and walk a further 20 minutes to Lords.

And we lost.

Looking forward to the 2012 Olympics, anyone? Christ.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Hot Or Lot

Recently, I've seen a bit of a fuss about Salem. At first listen, the Cocteau Twins Do Dubstep would seem the obvious comparison but certainly the chilling & ethereal electronica is an appropriately autumnal alternative to the big bright bangers of the summer. And some of their videos are, quite frankly, disturbing. Anyway, this is their latest offering, 'Frost':

Yes, I like it, but why do I feel the sudden urge to put a jumper on?

Monday, 28 September 2009

Overheard #90

Another food-based one from earlier today:
"So how would you make a breakfast bagel , Mike?"
"Well, I'd soak them in water for three hours then throw them away."

Thursday, 24 September 2009

From The Flames

So, Phoenix then.

Fantastic group, formed out of the ashes (hence...) of Air's early backing band and one of the first incarnations of Daft Punk. That's not so much 'cool' in my book as '−459.67°F' and falling.

I remember loving their first LP (whose name eludes me without firing up some reference site or other) but which had the standout track/single 'If I Ever Feel Better') way back in 2000 and then the brilliant 'Alphabetical' in mid-2004. If you haven't heard 'Everything Is Everything' then you haven't lived. You haven't? OK, here you go:

Anyway, thanks to Spotify I recently discovered they have a new album out entitled 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' (the title of which appealed to the uber music geek in me, obviously). Here's a sample, 'Lisztomania' which is the first track off the album, and another absolute winner IMHO:

So, y'know, get into Phoenix. Yes, I know they're French but it works for them.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Overheard #89

A discussion about the recent cold & wet weather led to this:
"So if you only have a small radiator in the hall, how do you get warm?"
"I have a gas fire that doesn't work in the living room."

Thursday, 10 September 2009


You know I really like La Roux.
You know I rather admire Nero.

Love the brooding quality he brings to the original, just by slinging it into the minor key and slapping a filthy bassline round its chops (thanks to Chris for the heads up).

You can also have a lot of fun by opening two copies of this page and playing the tracks slightly (3/8 works) out of sync...

...oh, just me then?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


In a random discussion on Twitter this morning, I got to remembering way-back-when in York, making Probemeister techno with John in his room upstairs at The Spotted Cow. Also living at that hostelry were various members of Shed Seven and John's mate Daz, all of whom were rather partial to a game of chess, which they played fanatically and competitively at all hours of the day and night:

The other major distraction from "actually getting anything done" was a Nintendo SNES which as far as I can remember was always running Super Bomberman 3 in four-player Battle Mode:

I couldn't help thinking they were quite similar and that there would definitely be a market for Chess With Exploding Weapons. Pausing only to scribble that on an envelope, I headed for the Patent Office...

...but then I remembered this:

Curse my metal body!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Overheard #88

Our office is comedy gold, most days:
"Just so you know, there's a server migration in progress"
"Is that some kind of bird?"

Thursday, 3 September 2009


With UEFA's recent sudden & random use of the two match ban for Eduardo based on video evidence, as well as the new FIFA decision to stop Chelsea from buying any new players for 18 months, it has clearly become time for some new legislation in football to handicap the top clubs. I have therefore devised some other rules for the 2010-11 season, as follows:
Portsmouth must play wearing one white glove on their left hands.
Fulham can only pass East-West in the first half, then North-South in the second.
Sunderland must play in pink and have My Little Pony boots, shaped like little hooves.
Everton must wear their shirts and shorts back to front.
Aston Villa's coaching staff will only be allowed to communicate to the players in Elvish.
Spurs' players must pass the ball to each other in alphabetical order.
Liverpool must arrive to away matches on monocycles, juggling fiery clubs.
Wigan's goalkeeper must sport a parrot on his shoulder throughout the match.
Burnley can only employ players called Dave.
Hull City's matches must take place on the Humber Bridge and they forfeit the match if the ball gets wet.
Wolves must paint their kneecaps to match their opponents shirts.
Stoke City cannot kick-off if there is an odd number of hot dog sellers outside the stadium.
Any more bright ideas before I pack this lot into a roast swan and mail it to the football authorities? You may notice that Manchester United are missing from this list but Sir Alex would just tell them where to stick their silly rules and carry on regardless :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Wood You Oyster?

This sounds terribly rude: Wood Oyster

But it is in fact a fantastic Victorian twist on the horrible bright yellow thin plastic Oyster card holder.

(This means you, Antonia & Ian :)

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Which Witch?

I hope FIFA, UEFA, The FA, The RICS, Ofcom, The ASA, RoSPA, UNESCO, The RSPB and the Co-Op are all called in to look at Wayne Rooney's penalty winning dive from yesterday.
Yes, that's DIVE.
D. I. V. E.

Watch his back leg below; totally pre-meditated going to ground before any contact is made. Isn't that exactly what Eduardo is accused of against Celtic? Attempting to influence the referee through unfair means? Yes, it is. So I await the outcome of the forthcoming Rooney investigation with keen interest. Everyone seems to be calling for a two match ban for this kind of thing; Sir Alex will be ever so pleased. You want a witch hunt? Sure, we can do that too.

By the way, unlike Celtic I'm not saying that this decision cost us the game (we managed to throw that away ourselves, unfortunately) but simply that every single incident of this kind must be treated exactly the same from now on, and closely investigated using all the available technology.

Or is that not what everyone wants, suddenly? Well?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Something To Say

This morning, I was reading a load of reviews of last night's Arsenal -v- Celtic match, in particular the furore around the Eduardo dive* which led to the penalty. The Telegraph, the Times and the Mail all had articles which asked for Your Comments but then required you to 1) register your details, 2) wait an unspecified time for an email from them with a confirmation link, 3) click the link, 4) re-enter your now approved login, 5) continue back to the original page to add your comment, 5) wait an unspecified time for it to be moderated and then eventually 6) see it posted -- by which time someone else has probably already made all the salient points you were so keen to express.

I didn't bother.

Now I fully realise the need to moderate comments on a national newspaper site. I also understand about comment spam and email address confirmation. But it doesn't feel much like the 'conversation' they so desperately claim to crave with their readers. It just feels slooooooooow.

1-0 to Twitter (at least)

UPDATE: I have since signed up for the Times to test how long it actually takes to get a comment published, more later...

UPDATE 2: It took three hours from start (clicking the Register button) to finish (seeing the comment at the bottom of the article). Sheesh.

* yes, he dived and yes, I am disappointed in that from such an apparently genuine guy.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

No They Couldn't, Stephen

Overheard #87

A cricket match, just south of the M25:
"Middle please."
"Er, could I have middle stump please, Umpire?"
"Yes. It's about 3 feet to your left."
And that's for Dave, who subsequently bowled like a demon and nearly got a hat-trick (your fault, Lewis...)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

The Conversation

I'm blogging this because if I tweeted it, the recursivity might make Janet Street-Porter explode:

Actually, I've just remembered that all my blog posts get tweeted (via twitterfeed - hello, Mario!) so if you're in the vicinity of JSP, start running...)

Start The Card

Fascinating article about Ricky Jay, the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist alive, probably.

Watch 13 examples here: Master Magician

When we were out in Dubai last Christmas, some friends organised a party at which there was a brilliant close-up magician, an young English guy who had moved out there to do just that for a living. As there were a fair few of us, he split everyone into two groups, one inside the house and one in the garden. He then moved swiftly between the two, barely repeating a trick (unless pressed!) and keeping both groups entertained and baffled for over an hour with cards, rope, rings and other props he found lying about. Thoroughly enjoyable; I still have the folded-up Jack of Clubs, with Solveig's name on it in marker pen, which he produced from his top pocket when it was supposed to be tightly clenched in her hand. Awesome. :)

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Just Billing Time

Interesting idea, recording all interaction with particular companies/brands and then invoicing them (at your full hourly client charge-out rate) for your time, ostensibly to ascertain how much they value you as a customer but also to highlight the consumer/brand power question:

The letter from Julian at Pret is excellent :)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Kicking Off

So it all starts again today with a 5.30pm kick-off away at Everton. Now this is by no means an Arsenal blog - there are many that fulfil that role way better than I could) but I do chip in from time to time when something piques my interest. Like this, the Arsenal Pledge (I've always been more of a Mr Sheen man myself):

All well and good, but where are all the other players?

I want to see Fabianski's pledge to not come charging out of his goal like a freak every five minutes, Song's pledge to look less like he smoked a massive reefer before putting his shin-pads in and Eboué's pledge to be a bit less Eboué (or should that be fewer Eboué...)

Anyway, off we go. Come on you Gunners!

Friday, 14 August 2009


Brilliant idea; no more KFC rip-offs or oily £8.49 3-item Granada breakfasts:

Or you could not bother actually going anywhere for your summer holiday and spend two weeks in your local :) Still, we shall be using this next time we venture North...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Jaguars Earlobes

In fact, no tasty Roman nibbles here but another excellent mix from the Ocelot boys (who did a really great reworking of Dragonette's 'Competition').

When you see Toxic Avenger back to back with Timo Maas & Felix Da Housecat you know it's worth checking out. So, er, check it out.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fifty Weeks Off

Having just got back , this really made me chuckle:

Especially this bit:
"There is a dizzying array of choices but we usually opt for the activities in which we exchange our labour for money, which we find hypnotically calming. The long vacation days are so calming, in fact, that our 50 weeks of holiday can sometimes seem even longer."

Saturday, 1 August 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #6

Today I was mostly being stung by wasps:

Followed by trying to light a BBQ in a monsoon:

Actually it was a quite amazing thunderstorm; when they get weather in Cahors, it does not mess about. A few hours of all hell breaking loose and calm descended once again. Which was handy for the drive to the airport...

...yes, our sojourn to the wonderful forest near La Vallée du Lot has come to an end*. Freyja said she wanted "one more day"; Theo did his now-famous fish impression. It's been lovely though. Same time next year, everyone?

* so this time, easyJet managed to happily check us in despite the 40 minute cut-off having passed, put us on Speedy Boarding for free because we had two kids under 4 and get us to Gatwick (early) with all our luggage unbroken. So am I still hopping mad about the 3-hour delay on the way out? Heh, what do you think...

Friday, 31 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #5

The French attitude to parking can only be described as one of 'angry disdain'.

Sometimes it is nothing more than stopping in the middle of the road and getting out, even on motorways. On other occasions, they will happily turn sharply onto a zebra crossing, mount the pavement at a jaunty angle and exit the vehicle by any of the available doors, including the boot. Car parks are easily spotted, not by the traditional 'P' signage but by the scattergun approach to alignment taken by the customers. In fact, if it looks like an East End scrapyard specialising only in Peugeots, Renaults & Citroens, it's almost certainly a French car park.

Cahors is no different, being as it is a medieval town with a massive river through the centre of it and definitely not designed for easy motoring. As such, parking spaces are at a premium and are a) very small and b) surrounded by car-unfriendly obstacles such as ancient trees, lamp posts and riverside benches. Throw into the mix an almost-brand-new hire car with a €1000 excess and yours truly had a certain amount of sweat on, attempting this little manoeuvre in the 35 degree midday heat:

Nailed it though. Even Freyja (yes, that's her, sitting by the tree) applauded.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #4

After being informed that blogging about your holiday was insensitive to those affected by the worst recession for 50 years, I spent today taking pictures of the sky. As literally both my avid followers will know, last year I posted about of the bluest sky I had ever seen, directly overhead whilst I was in the swimming pool at Lascombe:

This afternoon, 359 days later, it was almost identical:

I say almost because today was one degree hotter at 35C; I wonder what Klein would have said about that? My best guess is:
"Merde, il fait chaud."

Sunday, 26 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #3

One of the benefits of having been a wind instrumentalist in my youth is a pretty decent lung capacity. As such, on any holiday involving water, it inevitably falls to me to inflate a wide variety of lilos, floats, dinghies and beach balls as required by those present.

So far today, I have given the kiss of life to a medium blue lilo, an In The Night Garden beach ball, a round floating baby seat and a giant multicoloured snake. And what better way to spend a sunny afternoon that by attempting to run across the pool using them as a rudimentary technicolour pontoon:

In seven attempts, I didn't make it once (in my defence, I think the lilo has a leak...)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #2

The house in France is lovely, but the cooker is over twenty years old and takes about eleven days to heat up to a temperature only vaguely near the one you selected. As such, we tend to BBQ a lot: confit de canard, saucisses de Toulouse, épaule de sanglier and that traditional rural French dish, chicken tikka :)

The latter was on the menu for tonight, so fire was required:

Oh, and there's none of that charcoal malarky - this is purely a wood burning affair. And bloody delicious it was too.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

What I Done On My Holidays #1

Today was spent getting more and more furious at easyJet's apparent failure to realise that to run an airline with any genuine intention of getting your paying customers* from A to B - in this case, Gatwick to Toulouse - you are actually going to need what is commonly known as a PLANE. One that works. And is where it is supposed to be, when it is supposed to be there.

Scheduled departure time 0940; actual departure time 1300. FFS. Still, at least I now know all the Mr Men books off by heart...

* and none of that 'You get what you pay for' nonsense; these flights were the same price as BA charged us last year, but who no longer offer Gatwick to Toulouse, the bastards.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Anything To Declare?

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you pack for two weeks... on Twitpic

Yes - that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how you pack for two weeks in the South of France. I shall have limited access to the interweb for the next fortnight and when I do, I will mostly be checking the score in the Third Ashes Test from Edgbaston. Happy days...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Overheard #86

In the car, earlier today:
"I don't trust the French, with their ... hats."

Rhapsody In Buloo

Freyja is obsessed with 'Waybuloo' on cBeebies but the theme tune is a proper earworm and has been bugging me for weeks.

Finally, this morning over breakfast, I worked it out. It's the strapline from the "Where in the world" PC World TV advert over 'Hong Kong Garden' by Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with the in-game music from 'Crash Bandicoot'.

I really need to get out more.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Wooden It Be Nice

So there comes a time in a man's life when he requires a wooden structure away from the familial home in which he can keep his vast collection of paint stirring sticks, listen to Test Match Special and spend some time in deep contemplation, growing a beard. That time has come. Shed time.

My DIY Dad wholeheartedly agreed with me and the parents popped down last weekend, with Mum delighted to be allocated full-time keeping-Theo-away-from-power-tools duty. After Homebase (better selection, cheaper price and quicker delivery than B&Q, in case you were interested) had delivered the appropriate wooden bits (forty-seven) and we had established that we had enough electric drills (three), we set to with the construction. Actually that's not quite true; I had to go to work on the Friday so he spent the morning digging an 'ole...

Upon my return, there were 28 sacks of rubble, an ex-tree to take to the tip and a base to be bolted together and dropped in...

Standing back, admiring our handiwork I squinted at the frame, leading me to casually remark that it "looked about level to me". So we tested that theory...

Bloody hell, it was! Hurrah, saved about an hour's banging things randomly with hammers :)

The next thing was to get the sides up. There aren't many photos of this process, as it seemed to require a minimum of 6 arms and there were only two of us. Still, we were making progress...

Not surprisingly, the next stage was to tackle the roof. After the obligatory joke about "getting felt up", we did just that (also note classic use of delicate Victorian garden furniture as sweaty bloke's drill storage area, sawmill and workbench)...

By now, it was very late, we were very tired and the door wouldn't close because, it turns out, the adjacent window fittings had been designed by a committee of Venezuelan baboons on acid. In fact, we ceremoniously tore up the instructions at this point and got a load of 2" screws involved. And, suddenly, we'd only gone and built a shed...

The following morning, before dashing off to play cricket near Slough (I know, my rock 'n' roll life, eh?) there was Ye Grande Shedde Openingg with honoured guests and dignitaries from the borough...

And today, one week on, I found myself sat out at the very same spot in a canvas chair with a mug of tea, reading the weekend papers whilst Aggers burbled gently from the wireless and the sun beat down on SE London. Bliss...

Huge thanks to the parents, without whom this project would have been an epic fail, and to Solveig for finally caving in and letting me do it (although I suspect that she is secretly delighted that she now has somewhere to banish me...)

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fry On Cricket

Simply wonderful.

"Thank you ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much indeed. It is an honour to stand before so many cricketing heroes from England and from Australia and at this, my favourite time of year. The time when that magical summer sound comes to our ears and gladdens our old hearts, the welcome sound of leather on Graham Swann..."

Monday, 13 July 2009

Shall We?

Three phrases you don't generally want to hear from your wife in quick succession:
1) "Do you like this?"
2) "I saw it on the internet."
3) "It's quite expensive."
However, I found myself responding:
1) "Yes, I do as it happens."
2) "OK, let's click on the link."
3) "Keeeerrriiiissssttttt!!!!!!"
I'm thinking we may have to sell one of the children...

Mens Things

Added to which should be, of course, BUILDING A SHED!

More to follow...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Play Park(ing)

It's a good job I have a decent amount of IKEA self-assembly experience. Theo received a wooden garage for his birthday and I've just got round to putting it together. It's beautifully crafted but I'm fairly sure I spent less time building two beds, a wardobe, a chest of drawers and a bookcase when we moved in here :)

Anyway, some how-to photos (and you may catch a glimpse of my junior construction assistant who was mostly helpful, when she wasn't hiding key pieces under the sofa and trying to keep a straight face when I couldn't then locate them).

And, after he woke up from his nap, the happy recipient:

Overheard #85

Sunday afternoon question time:
"I see the Cath Kidston collection is building up."
"Actually, one of them's Laura Ashley"

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Boycott The Shirts

So I've started a petition:

They're bloody awful and I hope nobody buys them. I don't care if the replica kit income would pay for a new defensive midfielder; they're taking the piss.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Shed Watch #1

It's here!

Somewhere in that lot are some instructions, I hope. Watch this space (or if you are our neighbours, watch the scrubby bit at the back of the garden next to the leylandii and the holly bush...)

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Sleevage is a wonderful site and today's featured album provides a very interesting look behind John Squire's artwork for one of my favourite albums of all time:

The painting featured on the cover of The Stone Roses is titled Bye Bye Badman, as is one of the songs on the record. Both the song and the painting are about the May 1968 riots in Paris, which explains why the tri-colours of the French flag are featured on the cover.
I did not know that.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Code Red

I have been wittering about La Roux for a while and now - finally - the eponymous album is released. OK, it's not actually out until Monday but there's this thing called the Internet...

So, having seen the savaging that the Little Boots LP took a few weeks ago, it might have been whispered that the kooky 80s lady synth pop revival championed by Radio 1 et al at the end of 2008 might be over before it has really begun. However, there is a lot here to shout about, not least Elly's soaring (others might say strident but I disagree) voice and the apparent return of the well-crafted song. The arrangements are deliberately simplistic (think 1981/82 Depeche Mode) but none the worse for that; a whole host of remixers have pounced on the space left around the vocals and created some amazing club tracks which have clearly helped to keep La Roux from the 'sharks' for the moment.

Apart from the singles 'Quicksand', 'In For The Kill' and out-now 'Bulletproof', the stand out track (and if it were me, obvious next single) is 'Tigerlily', even with the hammy vampiric spoken-word middle eight (from Elly's dad, apparently). But the rest is not filler; 'Fascination' has a fantastic earworm chorus hook and if we don't see 'Armour Love' given the South London dubstep treatment in the next six months I'll eat my blog. Definitely worth investigating.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Coining It In

I have a new project.

I am trying to collect a full set* of the new-style UK coins which I think Freyja would really like.

She's very into her numbers, loves completing jigsaws and is also (judging by the disappearing loose change on my bedside table and the colossal weight of her piggy bank) rather fond of money:

So far, the 20p, 10p, 2p and 1p were easy to find but there don't seem to have been as many sightings of the 50p and 5p and the £1 is positively elusive - all donations gratefully received :)

UPDATE 1: I now have the £1 coin - thanks, Solveig!
UPDATE 2: I now have the 50p - thanks, Alex!
UPDATE 3: I now have the 5p - thanks, Christine!

So that's the set collected, via the power of the internet. Photo of them in situ to follow...

* yes, I know you can buy a set from the Royal Mint, but that's no fun now, is it?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Overheard #84

Yes, it was as weird as it sounds:
"No, it's too reflective; I'm going to have to move your grapes."

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

It's A Fix(ture)

This is a fascinating insight into the vagaries of the football fixtures calendar.

Essentially, it's a massive Zebra Puzzle (incorporating the railways, the police, the FSF, bank holidays and horseracing amongst other things) and takes months to complete. For example:
"West Ham are paired with Dagenham and Redbridge. But for reasons of revenue, Southend request they do not play at home on the same day as the Hammers as they believe it impacts upon their attendance."
"Southend are in Essex, as are Colchester, so they cannot play together on the same weekend. Colchester share stewards with Ipswich so those two clubs also request they do not play home games on the same weekend. Transport links dictate Ipswich and Norwich do not play together on the same weekend either. In other words, when West Ham play at home can have an impact on when a club as far away as Norwich (108 miles) play their home fixtures."
As I say, fascinating. Geek out.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Breaking The Seal

There are some things in life to which you want to be first.

I'm not talking about the North Pole, the finish line of the New York marathon or the handbag department of Selfridges on Boxing Day.

No, what I find the most satisfying of all is being the first person to plunge a knife into a brand new pot of Marmite. Penetrating the slight oily sheen and carving down into the murky depths of its rich, black goodness, leaving an almost perfectly hemispherical scar in the otherwise pristine surface.

Clearly, this is not limited to Marmite; many other spreads lend themselves to this phenomena. Peanut butter (smooth more than crunchy) is good, as is Nutella.

However, although you'd think they might, pots of jam & marmalade really don't give that same exhilarating feeling of being the one to break virgin territory. And honey is rubbish as it 'self-heals'.

So what do you like to be first to?

First person to say '...point out that you have ended your sentence with a preposition' owes me a bag of Twiglets.

Overheard #83

The epitomy of restraint:
"I don't really like Krispy Kreme donuts. Apart from the plain ones. With the icing"

Friday, 5 June 2009

Overheard #82

Some workplace frustration being exhibited here, methinks:
"If they don't know the difference between "the same" and "different" then I'm afraid I can't help them"

Oh Brother, Why Art Thou?

So Big Brother 10 is here. Having glanced at the 'incarceration show' last night, it would appear that the usual fatuous characters have been selected, perhaps with a more international flavour, but ticking all the same boxes. As Meg Pickard succintly puts it:
Why would I want to watch the tedious antics of a bunch of people of limited intelligence and entertainment value who I neither know nor care about? I can do that every day on the bus.
Still, whilst they used to make a fortune out of charging people to gawp at the lunatics in Bedlam, Channel 4 must know the cash cow is on its last legs. I still think the best idea is to allow in anyone who desperately wants to be in the house, then switch the cameras and microphones off and leave quietly by the back exit. See how long they last; I'd pay to watch that.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

This Is Ian

Just an average Thursday, chez Antonia:

From the ever-wonderful 'Wondermark' by David Malki.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Overheard #81

Awesome #BGT overheard just now:
"Come on, Susan Boyle's on next..."
"...I've just got to watch these potatoes."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, sums up the state of Saturday night television.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Overheard #80

This just in from one of our ever-vigilant field operatives:
"One woman's potato sack is another man's goddess…"

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Women And Children First

Just moments ago, Arsenal added the 2009 FA Youth Cup to the trophy cabinet with a 6-2 aggregate victory over Liverpool. In a remarkable coincidence, tonight was the 20th anniversary of the astonishing last-gasp title-clinching goal* from Michael Thomas - also at Anfield and a game in which Steve Bould, tonight's coach, was a key member of the back four. Funny how these things work out.

Huge congratulations to them and also to Arsenal Ladies who this year won the FA Women's Premier League (again), FA Cup (again) and League Cup (again).

Now if some of that sweet smell of victory could work its way into the First Team dressing room before next season, I shall be a very happy man.

* the goal comes about 7'25" into the video and brings tears to my eyes to this day (and how odd does it look when the goalkeeper picks it up from a backpass)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Overheard #79

Regarding shoes:
"I can't wear those; I'd look like a middle-aged goth at a barbecue"

Never Win Anything With Kids

Some names to watch for the future here (and Little Jack of course)

And there were 33,000 people at The Emirates to see it (helped by the fact that it was £5 for kids £5 for adults, £2 for kids) including Goodplaya, whose report is here. Second leg is at Anfield next week; hopefully the three goal cushion should be enough, but best of luck to the youngsters - and perhaps some of our first team could take finishing lessons from them...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Tooled Up

This is amazing; a free online browser-based Flash audio composing and recording tool:

Yeah, yeah, seen them before, I hear you say? No, you haven't:

(click to enlarge)

Need another gate, compressor, delay, parametric EQ, splitter, sequencer, etc? Sure, just drag it on and cable it up. Just like being on stage (apart from knocking lager all over the laptop mid-set...). Have fun.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Overheard #78

This is funny to exactly three people:
"Oh no, it's Buemi!"

Getting Shirty

I see that my football team has a new away kit. Didn't we have one last year (and the year before that, and the year before that)? For the benefit of readers who do not scour the blogoverse for Arsenal-related news, here is our super Spaniard modelling said items:
So it's blue. The blue is OK. It’s a nice dark blue. As a colour, I quite like it. As a kit? It’s fine. It’s OK. No, really. I mean, I look at it and I think mid-table. I see Blackburn, Bolton, Wigan*, Portsmouth & Spurs but it's OK, I guess. Sort of. OK.

But is that how much the kit means to the club - it just has to be ‘OK’?

With all the history we have with our club colours - the cup finals, the last gasp championships, the European away wins - what I find galling is that clearly, despite all the experiments (white, blue, horizontal stripes, redcurrant, green) the fans’ favourite shirts are red with white sleeves (home) and yellow with blue sleeves (away). So why not stick with that? If we need a third kit (and actually, why would we ever, with those colour combinations) then swap the shorts over. Voila. Done. Sorted. And anyway, can you see Chelsea or Spurs having a red/white away kit? You can stop laughing now.

I know, I know, I'm being deliberately obtuse - it's all about the money. Nike sponsors the shirt; Nike gets to release a new slightly different replica kit each year and thousands will buy it, out of loyalty. I even nearly bought that one-off redcurrant one to celebrate the club's anniversary. But basically, it stinks.

Hey, I’ve an idea - why not be the first big club NOT to actively fleece the fans who put you where you are, eh? Buck the trend, challenge consensus. Arsene does it with his youth project; why not front up and try it at the *spit* 'brand' level? Pick a kit (you could maybe get the fans to choose...) and then that's it for, say, three years.

And you know what?

Everyone would buy it. I would. Everyone. Because they know that it would be worth the investment to stand alongside similarly-attired fellow supporters and not feel cheated. Part of what attracts about football is belonging to a gang; throughout history, gangs have worn clothing that identifies your lot from their lot (makes it easier in a scrap). It would look better on the terraces too; a chanting sea of red/yellow (home/away) rather than the patchwork quilt of random shirts from years gone by we currently display. At the moment, our 'look' is changing every 'season' - remind you of anything?

Proud of that much? No, didn’t think so. Think on.

* by the way, 'Wigan' was not in the embedded spell checker; I think that speaks volumes :)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Too Hard Enough

This is hilarious: Tweeting Too Hard

Although #6 is Peter Serafinowicz so I'd imagine not entirely serious :)

(via qwghlm)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Manic Moan Day

A Sainsbury's music buyer said:
"We felt that some customers might consider this particular album cover to be inappropriate if it were prominently displayed on the shelf."
I smell a massive cover-up (yes, pun intended).

The real reason they are going to display it in a plain cover is because the Manics have been utter crap since 'Everything Must Go' in 1996 and they don't want to have to deal with a flood of irate customer returns.

Hope that clears it up.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Boom Boom

Haringey council has just rejected plans for the proposed new Spurs stadium on a local park. A spokesperson for the council said "It’s one thing having a funfair there twice a year, but a circus every fortnight is simply not acceptable”

I thang hew.

Turning In His Chip Shop

This is finally here:

"U2's singer Bono reads his own poem, Elvis, and weaves it into an atmospheric sound-scape. The poem, which sounds like the beat poetry of Adrian Henri, contains images from Elvis' life and his legacy, American history, and popular culture of the last 50 years from crooning to rap via rock and roll, from Valentino to television via Nixon and Lisa Marie. It is blended with archive material and recorded, specially-composed music."

John 11:35

Enough said.


New hairs-on-back-of-neck dubstep tune for you. The VIP remix of Gutter Music by Philly-based producer Starkey has the most amazing chord sequence. Mad arpeggiated synths and a healthy dose of clattering electro drums probably mean it's not for the faint hearted but I can't get enough of it. Check it, buy it:

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


I just found a load of photos on my phone I had completely forgotten about. So, in no particular order (click to enlarge, if you fancy):

Lady Penelope on the school run at St Dunstans College

Four quid for a box of twigs? That's Dulwich for you

Big owl problem in Kensington, is there?

Most men still couldn't hit the target...

Enough said!

Overheard #77

Hitting you up with multiple Overheards today, from a small gathering in SE London last night:
"Yeah, we had to bin off all the girls..."

"I had pizza for breakfast and everything tasted sour for three days."

"Oh god, it's the Christopher Reeve of websites."

Back A Bit, Left A Bit

Everyone else has blogged this, so I am going to as well:

Which reminded me of Antonia, Ian and Esme's brilliant Wild West one, here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Trust The Remix

That nice Mr Skinner has decided to allow the great unwashed to remix his excellent track "Trust Me". I shall be having a go shortly, but for now here are the first attempts (quite liking the autotuned jungle one from Rumblejazz)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Overheard #76

One of our analysts got a bit chippy this morning:
It's not 'wind', it's Value Added Comment

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Pen Is Mightier

Not much to offer on our 3-1 loss to Man Utd; more erudite bloggers than me have already said all there is to say.

However, the Fletcher incident WAS a penalty and WAS a sending off. It was. Watch it again.

His intention was clearly to stop the player first, and divert the ball second. If you look at the incident, he poked his left leg in the vague direction of the ball whilst simultaneously (and most importantly) wrapping his other leg around Cesc's knees and ankles, bringing him down. Yes, he did get the faintest of touches on the ball (which I don't deny) but that was not enough to alter its course so much that if Cesc had continued his run, he would clearly have had a chance to score. He was blatantly prevented from continuing this run by Fletcher; thus he was denied a goalscoring opportunity. Under the rules, that is a penalty and a red card.

The referee got it right.

We can feel sorry for Darren Fletcher - and even as a disappointed, lifelong Arsenal fan, believe me when I say I do feel some sympathy - but bleating that he got the faintest end of one of his studs onto the ball and that means he didn't commit a foul is totally, utterly, completely wrong.

Thanks. If anyone wants me, I'll be over there trying to flog Adebayor to AC Milan.

UPDATE: Graham Poll agrees with me. I'm not sure if that's a good thing :)