Being Resolute

Okay, so it’s that time of year again – we all get totally bladdered and make resolutions to start doing stuff at just gone midnight that is a 100% diametrically opposite to what we’ve been doing all of our lives.

This usually lasts until about five past midnight when we all agree that it’s best not to start right this minute but to wait until after we get up next morning (this assumes that we get to bed at all).

At some point on January 2nd we say “No seriously I mean it this year” and only then does your new life really begin.

By January 7th of course you are off on the piss again, eating pasties and have told your personal trainer that he must be fucking joking if he thinks you are going to do that!

Still, you can always console yourself that for nearly five days you were a paragon of virtue (except for the multi occasions of self- abuse obviously).

This year I’ve decided to make a few resolutions that I have a better than 50% chance of keeping – until at least Valentine’s Day anyway.

  1. ‘I’m going to do at least one marathon a month’ – I really can’t get used to calling them Snickers and anyway the idea of peanuts and chocolate is just wrong – so I’ll stick to one a month and concentrate on deep fried Mars bars as one of my five a day.
  2. ‘I’ll finish the book I’ve been working on’ – it’s going to be tough but I don’t need to use my finger underneath the words so much now and anyway a lot of the chapters have pictures in so there’s less pages with lots of words on.
  3. ‘I’m going to find Jesus’ – that pesky budgie has gone and bleeding flown off again. Although maybe Satan got him – he’s a right bastard our cat.
  4. ‘I am definitely going to lose at least 10 pounds in January’ – probably on  Euromillions – I might even make it 20 if it’s a rollover week
  5. ‘I won’t smoke at all’ – this should be a  relatively easy one as I haven’t had a ciggie since about 1967 (unless you count the odd funny fag obviously)
  6. ‘I’m not going to drink any more’ – again fairly straightforward so long as I stick to the same quantities as this year and don’t drink any less.

And finally –

7. ‘I’m not going to reply to any more Nigerian friends who have promised to send me a large sum of money’ – again this is not difficult since I don’t get so many now that my bank account has been emptied by their mates.

A very undemanding list I think you’ll agree – although chasing the fucking budgie whilst eating a battered Mars bar may prove a bit beyond me (and my ticker too probably)

Anyway guys – Happy New Year and may all your resolutions be as pointless as mine!

A Passing Phase?

There’s a chapter in Catch 22 where the black marketeer Milo Minderbinder explains how he buys eggs for 7 cents in one market, sells them in another for 5 cents and still makes a profit. The logic and shaky economic explanation confuses both Yossarian and the reader but you somehow start to think that it might actually work.

In yesterday’s Sunday Times Stephen Jones wrote an article regarding how an Australian Coach had ‘proved’ that because of a combination of the law of relative velocity, physics and player momentum a ball passed behind a player often moved forward when it was actually caught by the receiver. Based on this the IRB have introduced the ‘Momentum’ rule whereby the ref and TMO have to take account of the passing player’s hands rather than the trajectory of the ball.

This has resulted in many passes being ruled legal when they look to the naked eye (and video monitor) as if they are forward.

As Jones points out – there is just one small flaw in this rule ……… it is total bollocks! He may have used a slightly different phrase to convey his interpretation (the Sunday Times is like that) but the meaning is the same.

To the average rugby fan a forward pass is when the bloke who catches it is in front of where his mate was when he chucked it to him. No need for physics, velocity nonsense and momentum – it’s not rocket or any other science – it’s actually very fucking simple.

The game has not become a hybrid of American Football (not yet anyway) and as far as I know the rules haven’t been officially changed to allow a ’sort of forward pass’ as long as your hands are pointing the other way. But I’m sure some clubs are even now trying to find a new coach who can teach players how to produce a sleight of hand that points fingers in one direction and punches the ball forward at the same time. I imagine the ‘Magic Circle’ might be a good place to start recruiting.

Fucking hell – how long before we get a version of ‘Hawkeye’ to track the ball direction and  to determine exactly how many  studs connected with that hole in a bloke’s head where blood is pouring out? Maybe the IRB should introduce a ‘Snickometer’ that can measure the speed at which a punch is landed?

I preferred it in the old days when if the ref said a pass was forward then that’s what it was – and everyone accepted it (albeit with muttering expletives) – this was the case even when he was a fat bastard who couldn’t keep up with play.

I myself was quite prone to chucking the ball forward – on the few occasions I actually caught the ball I was only too pleased to get rid of it again when faced by any bugger who wanted to cause me harm in order to get possession. If that meant chucking it away then that did for me – quite often I’d simply throw it at him.

Tee Time

I had the idea for this post whilst watching Big Match 6 at Twickenham on TV yesterday afternoon – I’ll explain a bit later if you can manage to stay with me whilst I waffle on putting my thoughts into some sort of context (that’ll be a first then).

Well, here goes – sometimes in life you get an additional job you didn’t ask for or maybe want – you don’t usually get paid extra for it – sometimes it’s something you’re better at than others – but just as often it’s not!

When I worked at Brooke Bond Foods, the office had 8 floors and each one for some reason had to have a first aider and a fire warden. I understood the fire warden – it was important to make sure everyone on your floor got out (although only when the alarm went off obviously – not every day at 5pm). They then had to try and count the bodies (the live ones anyway) when we were all shivering at the designated point in the car park.

The one time I was unable to avoid being made the warden I told everyone to meet in the pub opposite – it was warmer and they were pleased with the extra business. This made me popular with the department but not the head of Personnel who promptly sacked me (fortunately just as fire warden).

Another good reason for not being warden was that you were supposed to be the last out of the building – it was the one time in m y life that I actually lead from the front.

I can’t for the life of me see why you would need a first aider on every floor – it wasn’t like we were selling bacon sandwiches on the Gaza Strip, a bomb disposal unit or judging ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – we were marketing tea bags for fuck’s sake! The most dangerous it got was ducking quickly when the chimps threw poo at us.

Inevitably the ones given the job of dispensing first aid were the most intellectually challenged – everyone else buggered off when Personnel came round looking for volunteers or anyone who’d got a first aid badge from Cubs. I think they had to attend classes on how to open a tin of plasters and were given the ‘Dummies Guide to Open Heart Surgery’. Neither of which would have helped much I imagine. However, had they also been given access to prescription drugs I expect there would have been plenty of takers (in every sense)

I avoided being a first aid monitor  but there was one prank involving  myself John Nic and Gordon George (or maybe it was George Gordon – as in I might have got it the wrong way round not that there were two of them).

We decided that we’d change who was the designated fire warden on our floor – we picked on Twissy – he was a senior sales guy and a lovely man. His one flaw was that he was extremely easy to wind up. To our predatory natures this was a source of endless amusement.

We constructed a memo (e-mail was a figment on ‘Tomorrow’s World’ at the time) which was supposedly from The Purchasing Director, Norman Parsons informing Twissy that he was now to be the official fire warden for our floor.

This in itself would have annoyed him – what made him apoplectic was the additional obligations that he was now supposedly to be given –

  1. To change his company car for a red one (with a detachable blue flashing light)
  2. He had to have access to a small axe at all times
  3. His office would be equipped with 3 fire buckets and he had to ensure that the sand was always topped up and clean

It never occurred to us that he would take any notice of the note – so we just pissed ourselves outside his door as he ranted.

What we failed to do was stop him storming down to the Director’s floor to see an astonished Mr Parsons.

Needless to say the three of us got severe bollockings (not for the first time) – although our boss did see the funny side of it.

Enough of this – back to the match at Twickenham between Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs.

Quins were ahead and looking comfortable but one of the commentators kept saying that they’d now be out of sight if Nick Evans hadn’t missed several kicks a goal.

I thought this a bit unfair – the former All Black was playing well and had scored the first try – but it was his ‘extra job’ that was given focus in the commentary.

Admittedly kickers do get a lot of plaudits (more than a fire warden anyway) when they are on target and they win games more than they lose them.

However they can have an off day and then they are vulnerable to criticism for doing (or not doing) something that the rest of the team don’t have to worry about (except hoping that he’s on target).

When I first played it was always the full back who did the kicking (as in place kicks not the shoe-ings that everyone did). It was just the accepted norm – like the wings threw into the lineout and the captain tossed the coin.

Graham was the kicker when I first made the 1stXV – he was a class act who also kicked for the County. When he retired and I was moved from centre to full back it gave everyone a bit of a pause – me not being renowned for my kicking (of heads or either type of balls)

Luckily Les took over as both captain and kicker (good multitasker our Les). It was a bit unusual for a forward to do any kicking (except for the obvious) although John Eales and Peter Brown made a pretty good fist of it.

I played for the 1sts for something like 17 seasons and in all that time I think we only had four regular kickers – Graham, Les, Bush and Paddy – all were bloody good and had excellent records over the years.

None of them had the benefit of a kicking tee however and I’m not sure when they were first introduced – our guys just had to dig their heel in and try and stand the ball upright in the dent. If the ground was too hard then some poor sod had to hold the ball up with the tip of his finger as the kicker ran up and hoped that he didn’t slip and convert his head. This job usually fell to one of the front row who were less likely to notice (or worry about) a set of studs taking out one of their few remaining teeth.

Personally I think the idea of a remote control car sending out a bit of plastic that looks like it came out of a giant Christmas cracker is rather demeaning to the game.

It has also robbed us of the hugely entertaining sight afforded by seeing a couple of front teeth sailing between the posts and totally confusing the touch judges.

TMOverused

I don’t know if it’s just me but these days it seems that the ref is going upstairs (as in asking for a video review not off for a quick hand shandy) every couple of minutes.

Perhaps there’s some new rule for refs that we haven’t been told about – maybe they’ll have to go and officiate for Askean Dukes (the rugby equivalent of Siberia – or at least it was when I played for them) if they get anything wrong.

Nowadays just about every time they are not sure of something they ask the TMO to stop watching ‘Cash in the Attic’ or pause Solitaire and look at his video monitor.

Thank fuck we didn’t have a TMO when I played – our refs rarely had a clue as to who was supposed to kick off much less the off-side rule (whatever that is) – so we would have spent most of the time waiting for a third official decision and a game would have lasted something like three days. I’m exaggerating of course – we were lucky if the ref turned up, the chances of getting some other poor sod to check on who punched who would have been up there with finding Lord Lucan riding in the National on Shergar.

This is how I imagine a Dukes game might have gone if we’d ever had the misfortune to have a TMO. It might even be the sort of thing that we could see on a TV screen in the not too distant future if the referrals carry on being used every two minutes –  

The ref signals to stop the clock – even though it hasn’t started yet. He makes an exaggerated rectangle sign with his hands (he looks like he’s playing a game of charades) – the players protest that they’d prefer him to mime a film.

Ref “Can you hear me in the box?”

A small picture appears in the corner of the screen and we see a bloke hurriedly putting down the Racing Post and a pastie

We hear a muffled response as bits of pastry tumble down his chin

TMO: sighing “Yes I can hear you – what now?”

Ref: “Can you just confirm this for me – I’m concerned that it’s not been flattened properly”

The camera zooms into the ground in front of the ref and we see that a coin is laying at a 60 degree angle on the grass

TMO: “Just checking” He shakes his head and picks up the paper again – forgetting he’s still in that little box on the screen

Ref: “Also can you go back a bit – I’m sure I gave him a pound and this looks more like a 20p coin”

TV Commentator 1 “An early bit of controversy Sebastian – it looks like the ref may be 80p out of pocket”

TV Commentator 2: “Yes Tarquin nice soft hands there – I didn’t spot the Captain’s misdirection until the third replay – a very nice dummy”

TMO: Not looking up “I’ve checked it from several angles and I can’t really tell if it’s heads or not”

Ref: Ignoring the increased restlessness of the crowd “No hurry”

TMO: Disgruntled he now looks at the video and eventually responds “Well Simon we have a problem, it appears that he’s nicked a gold coin from his kid’s stocking and I have no fucking idea which side is which”

Ref: “The bastard – I gave him a fucking pound coin – that thing will melt if I put it in my pocket now”. He scowls at the home captain and growls into his mike “Recommendation?”

TMO: “How the fuck should I know – you’re the bleeding ref”

Ref: muttering “Fucking jobsworth”

“Right – penalty try to the visiting team”

This turns out to be a smart decision as the home crowd pelt him with coins and he ends up one pound 53p, several drachma and a couple of roubles to the good. Which is just as well since no bastard is likely to buy him a drink in the bar afterwards.

 

Among the things that the TMO could be asked to adjudicate on in the future are likely to include –

 

‘Singing the anthem without due care and attention’

‘Running around in loud and flamboyant boots’

‘Having an offensive haircut’

‘Showing a Maori tattoo when you come from Wigan not Wellington’

‘Messing up the colours on the pitch advertising’

‘Possessing dangerous and inappropriate facial hair’ (except in November)

 

Of course this won’t leave time for tip tackles, forward passes and tries to be considered – so maybe we should just let the ref do it – especially since that’s his fucking job after all!

 

 

 

Rules of Engagement

Image

Rules of Engagement

If you’ve been reading the posts from the last three days – get a life for crying out loud – it’s Christmas!
I on the other hand had nothing better to do (after watching ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Princess Bride’) – so I’ve been writing about the ‘Original Rules of Rugby’ (one of my presents from my lovely daughter Lell).
Sceptics among you may have thought I was making it up (the rules not the fact that I have a daughter) – so to prove that I have some scruples (although I don’t use them obviously) – here’s some of the rules in print!

Fawlt Line

Airdy once gave me a copy of the laws and etiquette of golf – and I have to say it has proved to be extremely useful (we no longer have a wobbly table leg in the kitchen).

The ‘Original Rules of Rugby’ book from Lell is proving to be even more useful – it is providing me with an almost inexhaustible supply of ideas for this blog. Seriously it is funnier than an Alan Carr or Graham Norton biography – although to be fair a hieroglyphic version of the Highway Code would be infinitely more amusing than those two (as would be being poked in the eye with a sharp stick!)

Surprisingly the book doesn’t deal with rugby etiquette but there again as far as I recall this only involves applauding your opponent off the field having spent the previous 80 minutes giving him a good shoeing, a series of Glasgow kisses and generally trying to punch his lights out. In extreme cases you might be required to take one corner of the stretcher whilst trying to achieve a one hand clap to show your sporting nature and appreciation of a good contest.

After the game it is de rigeur (and you thought rugby wasn’t sophisticated) to buy him a pint and laugh about the fact that one or both of you will need a good dentist on Monday morning. Occasionally this banter will need to take place in casualty – I suggest you try and avoid this as their attitude to serving beer is somewhat inhospitable (which is particularly odd bearing in mind the very word!).

Anyway one of the rules I came across is as follows –

 Rule number 17 – ‘The goal line is in goal and the touch line is in touch’

Call me pedantic but I’m not entirely sure that this one needed to be an actual rule.

It reminds me of one of Basil’s comments –

“Can’t we get you on Mastermind Sybil?  – Next contestant Sybil Fawlty from Torquay – specialist subject ‘The Bleeding Obvious”

I’m thinking of writing to the RFU to try and get this confusion cleared up – hands up all of you who thought that the touch line was somewhere different from what it says in Rule 17?

See? My point exactly – more than 70% of Askeans have some idea of where it is. I shan’t ask about the goal line as this was something that we really didn’t find too often in the Ex As – except to stand behind our own one for the conversion attempt (not really – some of us were too tired to get back there in time for the kick – so we just waited by the aforementioned touch line until it was over (or not if he missed).

 

I’ll almost certainly return to this ‘Original Rule Book’ many times – and am going to add pics to prove I’m not making these rules up.

 

 

 

 

Rugby Rules OK!

I delved into my ‘Original Rules’ book in bed last night (and no – that’s not a euphemism – sadly).
I found a number of so called laws that must have changed before I started playing the game.
Take this one for example –
Rule 58 -‘ No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates or gutta percha on any part of his boots or shoes shall be allowed to play in a match’
If that had still been in force at Askeans I don’t think we’d ever have had more than one or two forwards on the pitch – and that would only be those that had forgotten their kit and were wearing plimsolls!
Peety, Jimmy, the Kevs, Kieran, Tay, Milly, Daisy, Chas and many others prided themselves on having footwear that could be used to advantage when called to hand out a good shoeing – I mean what’s the point if you’re wearing the equivalent of carpet slippers.
Full marks to the RFU I say for disposing with this nancy rule. It may well have still actually been in use when Chunky was skipper – but then  there were a lot of rules  that he made sure we never took a blind bit of notice of!
By the way, I have no fucking idea what gutta percha is, but I bet that our forwards did – especially if it could be used to draw blood or guarantee a trip to A & E
I promise you I’m not making these rules up – I’ll post pics of the book here tomorrow
To be honest I don’t know why I’m promoting their book on my blog, the bastards never recommend my stuff!