Walking with a Sleight Chimp

mNRQHgK-MO-QMeD-So4DQSQ

Last week I took the piss out of the peeps who were responsible for the stupid designs on England rugby shirts (‘Getting Shirty’) and mentioned that I had been involved in some pretty stupid ads and promotions over the years. Some of these involved the Brooke Bond Chimps – working with them was mostly better than trying to have a sensible discussion with primates from the front row – but not always. We won a lot of awards for the ads – one of which was when I was very junior in the marketing department. This particular prize was to be handed out during a black tie dinner at the Dorchester. I was the only poor sod not invited and I took a lot of stick from my colleagues who decided that this was bloody hilarious, telling me they’d save me the odd vol au vent (not even a bleeding pasty then, unsophisticated bastards). Naturally, I took all this in good part simply suggesting that they should “go fuck themselves”. Imagine my delight when I was summoned to the managing director’s office on the morning of the dinner to be asked if I possessed a dinner jacket. “Don’t be a twat I’m a kid from Catford” – luckily I didn’t say this out loud and grinning stupidly said that I could probably hire one. I was ever so chuffed – right up to the moment when he explained that some fucking idiot had suggested that we should get one of the chimps to go up to collect the award. I managed to stifle a guffaw thinking that this would be a fun evening culminating in tossing bread rolls around – I was sadly mistaken. My important role, as it turned out, was to take the little bastard up ahead of the marketing director and then walk him back through the crowded tables. Even worse both the chimp and me were to be in monkey jackets (as in DJs – not as extras from ‘Planet of the Apes’). No doubt everybody would be jeering at me rather than the simian git! Meanwhile the marketing director would probably be being about as eloquent into the mike as my mate holding onto my paw would have been. To further add to my humiliation I wasn’t even going to get a starter and a drop of bubbly – I was to be with the trainer in a back room learning how not to get bitten and contract rabies during my stroll with ‘Cyril the fucking Cyclist’! It didn’t end there – as soon as we walked out together I was to drive my new mate in a van down to Southend so that he could open a new Tesco supermarket the next morning. Seriously I am not making this up – we often had to organise this sort of stupidity – I even got a letter once asking if the chimp could say a few words – god I wish I’d kept that! Surprisingly it didn’t go too badly although I’m pretty sure both Bush and Hickey were in the audience having the most enormous fun. However, both Cyril and I were fairly well behaved – both of us managing not to poo ourselves on stage in all the excitement. After a bit of shoving into the back of the heated van – the chimp, not the trainer or myself – I headed off to the Essex coast. The little bastard screamed and threw himself about the whole journey – possibly not in favour of the tunes on Radio Caroline that I turned up to drown him out (which is actually what I felt like doing). The MD had graciously allowed me to stay in a (cheap) hotel overnight and after a huge breakfast ( my expenses claim would have impressed an MP) I got the train back to Croydon. One redeeming feature was that the blokes and Doris’ in the department were too hung over from all the free booze to take the piss – well not until the next day anyway. I have loads more stupid stories – some of them I can put here without being sued too. These are when I had what Terry called ‘a proper job’ – i.e. not working for Chunky. Some of those are definitely not printable

 

Statistically Speaking

Regular readers of this rubbish will know that I’m knocking out surprisingly decent predictions for the Premiership but also in competition with Rich from Rugby United to predict scores for ten different matches picked at random each week. You’ll also know I made a right Horlicks of the actual scores game in week one – week two was only marginally better and it’s starting to look like I’m going to pick up ‘twat of the week’ award on a fairly regular basis. Anyway this week I’ve been told to be a bit more savvy – which I am assured is not the same as having rough sex with a sailor or brickie. If it was I’d probably not bother, or at least charge them a bit above my normal rate. In weeks 1 and 2 I punched in my guesses first, so I was unable to fix my score differences to give me an advantage against the other two competitors (Rich and the guest – Ollie this week). Apparently there is a statistical benefit in being able to get the spread to work in your favour if you know what the others have already picked. It’s something to do with having a standard deviation so I’m informed – which isn’t anywhere near as exciting as it sounds. Unfortunately I also have no fucking idea what it means. However, whilst I can’t get any benefit from this, I can, at least, stop the others getting the advantage by going last. So I sneakily haven’t yet told them what my guesses are! Clever eh? – well possibly – but probably not. My lot for week 3 with Rugby United are –

1 La Rochelle 13  vs  31 Lyon

2 Toulouse 26  vs  31Stade

3 Castres 30 vs  20 Grenoble

4 Leinster 31  vs  19 Munster

5 Ulster 39  vs 26 Edinburgh

6 Scarlets 26  vs 21 Dragons

7 Bath 26  vs 21 Saracens

8 London Irish 21  vs 39 Northampton

9 Gloucester 19 vs 26  Leicester

10 Sale 21 vs 26 Wasps

I’m not going to reveal here what the others have put down as I don’t want you taking the piss because I haven’t got the spread right.

Onto the stuff where I do appear to know a bit more what I’m doing –

Almost but not Quite

Somewhat surprisingly I had another pretty good week with my Premiership predictions – I would have snatched your hands off if you’d offered me 5 out of 6 on Friday lunchtime – especially if it involved something like that in pasties or Heineken! Cumulatively I’m now 19 from 24 after the first four rounds which is over 79%. If I’d ever scored that in a test at school the teacher would have been staggered and convinced that I’d cheated (he’d have been right too!). I still haven’t scored a full house this season but I live in hope (which is a suburb of Turnip Town). Friday night was a banker although not the sort you’d like to kick up the arse. However that’s just what Gloucester did to London Welsh, putting another shedload of points on the Premiership new boys. Welsh have now shipped an average of just short of 50 points a game and if it goes down to the wire the points difference may just save the Falcons. The Welsh stayed in touch for well into the 65th minute and you wonder if their capitulation in the last quarter didn’t have as much to do with fitness as skill. Maybe they’ll surprise us all as the season develops but it seems unlikely and losing can become a habit. After a good, albeit predictable start I was then let down by the Tigers who went down at home to the other exile team London Irish. Shane Geraghty, who is getting some good reviews, kicked the winning points on 78 minutes when it looked like Leicester had just about settled for the draw. The Tigers have a long injury list but still fielded some big names and Richard Cockerill was incandescent about a couple of refereeing decisions. In the past Tigers never had to worry too much about dodgy calls at Welford Road – as they were mostly well in control and well ahead– how times have changed. From then on the weekend was plain sailing (sorry for the mixed metaphor) and all the other games went my way. Saracens thumped Sale at home with Charlie Hodgson giving a master class at number 10. The Sharks did get three tries (to Saracens 4) but they were outmuscled up front and never really gave the London team much trouble. There was a hell of a game at Franklin’s Gardens where two heavyweights went head to head. Saints looked to be strolling home after they lead 31 – 10 on 54 minutes, but Bath stormed back with two converted tries to give the home side a nervous last ten minutes before their full complement of 5 points was finally confirmed. This included a referral to the TMO which went against Bath and prevented them drawing level. A great game from two sides who will almost certainly be in the play-offs (expect that to come back and bite me!). Both Sunday games were comfortable for me in the end – Harlequins looked anything but the side they have been for the last couple of seasons – off loads went astray and they struggled to put together much fluid play. In contrast the Chiefs looked like a team that is comfortable with all aspects of the game – scrummaging strongly and handling like it was a practice game (as in very competently, not that they couldn’t be bothered). Henry Slade looks every inch a future international and may well be in line for a call up to the elite squad if he continues to play as he did yesterday. In a Telegraph article on Saturday, Will Greenwood suggested he should be called up now – and he knows a thing or two about playing in the centre. Finally Wasps welcomed Falcons to Adams park – but only until the kick-of, after that they put them away with efficiency despite a bright start from the visitors. The five pointer moves Wasps up to 5th in the table. Falcons have now lost 20 Premiership games on the bounce and it looks like it could well be a dogfight with London Welsh at the death. It will be interesting when they meet in a couple of weeks’ time

The Results for R4 –

London Welsh 10 – 46 Gloucester

Tigers 19 – 22 London Irish

Saracens 40 – 19 Sharks

Saints 31 – 24 Bath

Chiefs 36 – 13 Harlequins

Wasps 35 – 18 Flacons

Aviva Premiership Rugby

Team Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Bonus Pts Points
1 Saracens 4 4 0 0 149 79 2 18
2 Northampton 4 3 0 1 135 60 4 16
3 Bath 4 3 0 1 151 77 3 15
4 Exeter 4 3 0 1 133 59 2 14
5 Wasps 4 2 0 2 106 94 3 11
6 London Irish 4 2 0 2 89 93 3 11
7 Gloucester 4 2 0 2 108 115 2 10
8 Leicester 4 2 0 2 79 104 2 10
9 Harlequins 4 2 0 2 59 113 0 8
10 Sale 4 1 0 3 112 111 3 7
11 Newcastle 4 0 0 4 63 126 1 1
12 London Welsh 4 0 0 4 44 197 1 1

After 4 rounds you’d think there might be a pattern starting to emerge and that predictions may get easier – no doubt I will prove that wrong in the coming weeks!

I’ll let you know how I got on next week – I am really hoping Rich continues to do well – he’s just got a TV gig for Rugby United and I’m hoping he’ll be wanting someone smart and articulate to help presenting – if he does I’ll offer to drive whoever it is to the studio and carry their coats.

Fools’ Gold

gold

In some breaking showbiz news Harry Enfield is going to expand his ‘I saw you coming’ franchise into wine bars! For those who haven’t yet seen his stores I think they’re probably a bit like Lidl and Aldi – but judge for yourselves in his promo video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQXJIi4oCGs The first bars will be in Essex, Chelsea and next to premiership football grounds and are also likely to do really well with bankers – although I have misspelt that. The Gigi (which for the Chelsea set is not a horsey) looks like a right fucking bargain at just under £9,000 and you get a free W(Ĵ) tie or scarf with every one you fork out for – result or what?

This glass of ‘how fucking much?’ costs more than my first house (no –really) and whilst our pad may not have exactly been a mansion it did have running water, built-in curtain rails and a serviceable cutlery drawer. Admittedly it was quite a lot short of gold leaf and a cherry on a stick but there was a rather splendid cubby hole for a hoover (which was a pity as we couldn’t afford one).

Over the last 50 years or so and especially in my playing days I’m pretty sure I destroyed quite a large number of brain cells knocking back shedloads of lager, bitter, cider and any number of stupid forfeit drinks. Even so, I still have just about enough grey matter (and hair) to know that anyone who shells out for one of these has the smarts of a house plant – which is pretty harsh on aspidistras!

You could go out with a few mates (most of the squad in fact) and have a bloody good night for about £1,800 – and not even have to do a ‘runner’. Then waste the other seven grand on – oh I don’t know – cancer research or terminally ill kids – still, you know best dear – I’m sure you probably really need yet another stupidly over-priced handbag!

The Jury will Disregard

Rugby referees are under more pressure than ever before from supporters, TMO controversies, media mischief and not least coaches and players comments before matches even kick –off. Serves the bastards right too – especially Roger B (Askean ref) who disallowed one of the few tries I scored (or didn’t, according to him) in my long and rather undistinguished career trying to catch an oval ball. I was never off-side – in fact I was rarely quick enough to be anywhere near the action and if Rodge hadn’t actually been slower than me he would have allowed me to swagger back to glory in the inevitable hoots of derision from my team mates! Not that it still aggravates me or keeps me awake – well, not often anyway.

The build up to big games heaps the pressure on – especially from media coverage designed primarily to sell newspapers but also to inflame passions on and off the pitch – much of this involves direct claims that the other side ‘cheats’. There is a phrase in judicial proceedings ‘the jury will disregard’ when the judge tells the ‘undirty dozen’ that they shouldn’t take any notice of what one of the barristers has sneakily dropped in by accident. The barrister immediately apologises for his unintentional ‘mistake’ (yeah right). You’re not supposed to mention the accused’s previous record apparently, so hearing that he ‘ strangled, dismembered, barbecued and ate his four previous wives may be a tad difficult to ‘disregard’ if his fifth wife is no longer with us (apart from the odd chewy bit, obviously.) Today’s game in Newlands where the Springboks try to stop the Wallabies from leap-frogging them in the World rankings is a case in point. Unless Nigel Owens and his assistants Wayne Barnes and Mathieu Raynal have been guests of Josef Fritzl for the last two weeks they will certainly have seen and read some of the verbal sparring (before the real thing starts) in the press. The Wallabies have been quick and verbose in accusing the Boks of nefarious activity whenever their forwards are anywhere near (or looking at) the ball. This is no surprise as the Wallabies’ ‘Achilles Can’t Heel’ inevitably surrounds all their players with low numbers on their backs. From the Boks’ point of view they equally stand accused with Australia’s forwards’ coach Andrew Blades taking aim at Springbok lock Victor Matfield for trying to manipulate the bloke with the whistle and his mates. So – the build-up to the Rugby Championship Test has been dominated with talks of set-piece trickery, with the Boks making much of Australia’s gamesmanship at scrum time. Meanwhile the Wallabies have been highlighting Matfield’s ‘management’ of the referee.
“Victor is very good at manipulating that situation and trying to create something in the back of peoples’ heads” Andrew innocently claimed.

But Nigel should think himself lucky that he isn’t facing Chunky or Bush this afternoon – two of the skippers I played for and who were more scary when questioning a ref’s decision than if you need to fart when you’ve got diarrhoea. Admittedly we did sometimes have blokes who could have played ‘Tommy, the Pinball Wizard’ in charge but I sometimes felt sorry for them (no – not really – especially Rodge!).

Being in the middle of a game in South Africa can be very intimidating – the guy who handled the last Lions’ game on the ’74 tour admitted he should have given Fergus Slattery’s try but explained to Willie John “It’s alright for you, but I have to live here!” I also suggest that Nigel doesn’t look at this clip – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cugWIM6E39g Although there’s not too much danger of that – I understand he only reads this blog now and then.

Track to the Future

Wearable_Technology_for_RugbyTV and film have given us ‘The 6 Million $ Man’ and ‘Robocop’ neither of which seemed very plausible to me to be honest. With all the new technology now being developed I was starting to wonder just what was ultimately possible and whether the innovations weren’t making sport more and more like a computer game. I’ve taken the rise out of many of the techie things being used in rugby before and so I have previous for this sort of piss taking. But I’m starting to change my mind as there is some stuff that I now think could be quite useful. Take GPS for example – I used to wonder why the fuck the coach needed this stitched into the players’ shirts when they were on the pitch – I mean he could see them all presumably as the top bods tend to get quite good seats –  even for away games. He’s likely to be still pretty much in touch even when he nips off for a quiet fag or a waz. It shouldn’t need NASA to tell him that his blokes are either shoeing their opposite numbers, sin binned or in the changing room getting stitched up, either. I guess he might also be able to track them to the showers if they pick up a red card.  However, what if Aaron had been fitted with a GPS when he was off knocking back a few on the night before he was supposed to fly out to Argentina? The ABs could have picked up some cheap electronic ankle monitors from that G4S lot I imagine. They don’t seem to like to use them for some reason and seem quite content to let blokes wander off from our prisons without bothering to ask if they might be popping back anytime soon – or checking if they mind having a bracelet fitted. Steve Hansen could have tracked Aaron from bar to bar and maybe even checked how many Steinlagers he was chugging. The whizzo computer programmes they have these days could presumably have told him when Aaron reached his limit based on bodyweight, the speed of guzzling, number of trips to pee and how many stupid faces he’d pulled for selfies with other pissed idiots. It would have been a simple thing to find another AB who was still roughly compos mentis and get him to collect Aaron’s passport as well as Aaron and carry him to check-in. Simples – as long as he didn’t expect Beauden Barrett to do it anyway! You think I’m taking the piss don’t you (well I am obviously) but take a look at some of these real innovations detailed in this chart. Muscle activity shorts for fucks sake? Listen if I got a stiffy when I was playing the last thing I would want is it being transmitted to all the smartphones on the touchline – imagine the throngs of Doris’ who would be invading the pitch – okay back to the world of dreams. I exaggerated there to make a point – I rarely got excited when playing – very few of our opposition or own players were even halfway decent looking – so they rarely got me going (even in the showers if I’m being honest!). The mouthguard sensor would be pretty useful though – it detects fluid loss – so no more spilling your pint – unless it was throwing bitter, of course. Also there are boots that are apparently self-lacing – why tie your boots when you can be lacing the front rows’ drinks? The opportunities for using all these whizzy things is endless – well not endless, obviously but quite a lot – okay maybe one or two aren’t completely stupid.

But it’s not just the top clubs that have gone down the techie route either – Askeans have an artificial pitch, which means that no matter how bad the weather they can always play – more importantly – us supporters can stand on the touchline without getting our shoes muddy. I no longer have to use Terry’s toothbrush to get all the muck out of the grooves now – surprisingly she’s not as chuffed as I thought she’d be for some reason. Wives eh? There’s no pleasing them sometimes!

Fly Tip

A couple of days ago I corrected my mistake in suggesting that it was Evvy who made up the Askean version of the Red Devils – Kev (B) confirming that he was the one who jumped out of a plane. Obviously I wasn’t contrite enough in my apology as the following missive from Kev eloquently explains –

From: Kevin Burnett [mailto:kevinm.burnett@b]
Sent: 25 September 2014 09:19
To: davidshute@outlook.com
Subject: Re Lash at Well Hall

Hello Dave,

                I’ll have you know that my jumping out of a little 4 seater plane was quite an achievement. It involved my pirouetting on a metal plate 12 inches x 8 inches, above the wheel, when getting out of the plane at 120mph and getting into the correct position holding onto the underbar of the wing, whilst some poncey git sat, smoking a fag, and told me when I could attempt to kill myself by hitting the tailplain, and throw myself off. It was quite surreal as this bloke was all calm while I was all panic. My fellow jumpers congratulated me afterwards as they could hear me even though I was 2000ft in the air, when I exited the plane, and they were still obviously on the ground. What they did not know was that I had lifted my head as I pushed off the plane, this had the effect of sending me into a backward spin, instead of the planned “level with the ground technique”, we had been trained to perform. What they heard was not “1000, 2000 3000 check canopy” but “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK” at the top of my voice. As I have already stated I landed well outside of the drop zone but by this time I was just grateful of still being alive and so you can imagine my reaction when someone mentioned that if there was enough light those wanting to could go again. I was quite relieved when dusk approached and the chance was lost as I had no intentions of doing that again unless I had to leave a burning airliner. I suppose it was a case of fight or flight and I must agree flight is a much better option (that is if you have an option, most times on times on a rugby field you do not have a choice). That and the fact that I raised over £1000 for charity and Wimpey would match my contribution at the time meant that some noble institution got a lot of money as a consequence My journey home was uneventful and I got home without any diversions about 7.30 that night and got myself a Chinese curry. I know it is stupid but I like to have one of those very occasionally as they have a strange flavour. I hope the tests go well for Terry and give her my love. Speak to again soon.

                                                                          Kevin

My thanks to Kev for giving us the details of his step into the unknown – although I imagine he could have guessed that it would be roughly downwards. Perhaps Bob will now provide details of each of his 800 parachute adventures. In fact if Bob could let me have chapter, verse and sequel on each of his jumps (the ones out of a plane anyway) then I’ll have enough material to fill this blog until Christmas 2015 with a bit of luck. Which would give us all something of a decent break and stuff that is a lot more interesting to read. Although there is a risk that saying “I jumped out, looked around a bit and then landed (sometimes on my head)” may make it a trifle repetitive.

Poor Credit Score

I post here my predictions for the Premiership each week and keep a running tally of how I’m doing. So far this season I’m running at just under 78% which is pretty good to be honest. However, I am also in a competition with Rich who helps run Rugby United (http://www.rugbyunited.info/ ) to predict actual scores for 10 random games from different leagues each week. This is a whole different ball game (not really, obviously) and much tougher than my usual method which involves picking a name out of a hat. There is also a bleeding guest bloke each week to add to my humiliation for fuck’s sake! It started last week and I scored the magnificent total of 1 point – to put this in context Rich got 10 and the guest guesser (Trev – also from Rugby United) managed 4. So much for my rugby insight – the phrase  ‘you think I know fuck nothing when in fact I know fuck all’ springs to mind! The scores are on their site to my embarrassment and I have decided to include them here to stop me getting big headed (fat chance of that for anything).

To give you a laugh here’s my predictions for this week’s selection

Game 1 – Edinburgh 17 vs Scarlets 26

Game 2 – Leinster 31  vs Cardiff 13

Game 3 –  Munster 26  vs Ospreys 19

Game 4 Argentina 13  vs New Zealand 26

Game 5 – Leicester 31  vs London Irish 26

Game 6 – Northampton 26  vs Bath 20

Game 7 – London Welsh 13  vs Gloucester 31

Game 8 – Bayonne 7  vs Toulouse 15

Game 9 – Toulon 17  vs Montpellier 16

Game 10 – Brive 9 vs Begles Bordeaux 17

I actually don’t understand the how the scoring works (for the guessing game – I know how rugby works, obviously). However,  I fully expect to, once again, get the W (Ĵ) of the week award – that’s supposed to be an anchor symbol in brackets by the way – couldn’t find a proper one.

With a bit of luck I’ll do somewhat better on my predictions for the Premiership this week –

Hard Times

There have been some very strange results in the first three rounds of the Premiership this season and , whilst there have been some predictable outcomes, the teams above Falcons and London Welsh all look to be very competitive. I have to assume that the aberration that was the Tigers performance at Bath will have been sorted out by Richard Cockerill in a very tough week for all concerned at Welford Road.

Friday night is one of the easier calls I think – London Welsh are unlikely to get their first win when they entertain Gloucester. Welsh home attendance at their only home game so far was under 2,800 and it is possible that more than that will travel from Kingsholm and make it a ‘home’ game for the cherry and whites. Saturday starts to get a bit trickier – Tigers host London Irish who have been surprisingly strong against more fancied teams and were desperately unlucky to lose to Saracens at the death last weekend. Leicester have mounting injury problems but Welford Road remains a tough place to go and I think Irish will, once again, have to settle for a losing bonus point – had it been at the Madejski though I might well have called it the other way. Saracens should have too much for the Sharks but they will have to sharpen up defensively, especially with Danny Cipriani on such sparkling form.

The biggest game of the weekend is at Franklin’s Gardens where Bath will take on Champions, Northampton. To be honest this is the hardest one to call from any game so far this season – both sides look to be dangerous and common sense says that the home side should come out on top. For once I’m going to follow that advice and expect Saint George to add to his impressive tally of four in just three games. Harlequins restored some pride in beating Wasps at the Stoop but they still look a bit vulnerable and Sandy Park is a tough place to go – Chiefs to win. Finally another banker for me, Wasps should comfortably overcome the travelling Falcons at Adams Park.

So –

A good away win for Gloucester at London Welsh

Tigers get back on stream beating the Irish at Welford

Saracens trundle on – but not without some scary moments v Sharks

Saints stop the Bath juggernaut – just!

Chiefs give Quins more problems

Wasps add to Falcons woes

As it’s also a Rugby Championship weekend I’m also going for wins for the All Blacks (away to Pumas) and Springboks (at home to Wallabies)

I’ve done okay so far this season – expect the wheels on the bus to fall off any time soon!

Results for both, however embarrassing, will be posted here after the weekend. Please feel free to leave hoots of derision and witty piss takes in the comments box!