Highway Codes

As you will know full well I am wrong most of the time about….well just about everything really.

Yesterday, as it turns out I managed not to be (to quote Willy Shakesbloke).

I mentioned that I thought it was a spiffing idea for the Askean Dinner to be on the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend and that the traffic might be a tad slow. Well I was close, as in mostly at a fucking standstill – predominantly on the laughingly described motorway designated the 25. I assume that the 25 refers to the maximum speed possible in the fast lane – ever!

The Highway Agency was particularly helpful with signs that informed us, at regular intervals, ‘Possible Congestion after Junction’ – these are on high gantries and can be seen from several hundred yards away.

They were easy to read as at the time we were sitting with the parking brake on and sometimes the engine switched off. The ‘Possible Congestion’ is obviously their code for ‘Ha Fucking Ha – you should have stayed at home for the holiday’.

I left Turnipville at 2.30 and rolled into Askeans at 7.42 pm – a new all comers’ record. As was the lengthy wazz I needed before heading into the bar – the result of not stopping on route.

It was certainly worth it though as there were many (very) old and familiar faces at the Dinner.

The food was good, the conversation better and the highlight, as always, was Lunny’s speech.

During which I felt a rather exciting buzz in my pocket – this was, unfortunately, only my phone.

Lell had kindly sent me a WhatsApp to remind me to take photos for today’s nonsense report.

Of course I had forgotten and didn’t even have the excuse of being on the lash, unless you count a bucket of nothing and diet coke (ABV: Bugger All).

The result was all the photos are pretty much from the (disad)vantage point of my seat during the speeches.

On our table I was lucky to sit with Bob N, Lunny, Bill, Dave, Chunky and Bob W

I’m not going to go through all the names in the photos – if you know them there is little point and if you don’t then it is of sod all interest I should imagine.

Of course we haven’t all worn that well, so some of us are probably unrecognisable these days.

Safe to say all the old faces were in evidence.

Lunny was once more very very funny – he speaks without notes and apparent planning for about 20 minutes.

The only time he referred to any notes was when he had to toast the guests. This in itself was a bit of a surprise – whilst he can spontaneously be funny for a long time – he needed notes to remember the names of three guests – 2 of which he knows very well – and one of whom had introduced him 30 seconds earlier. Go figure.

This year many of the players had brought along their wives and girlfriends (sometimes both). In recognition of this Lunny had toned down his stories from last year (one in particular) but still managed to share a rather amusing true tale about  a chap who had a rather unhealthy relationship with his pet canine. I say relationship – I am not convinced that there was full mutual consent from his description. Also not sure which one objected!

I left after the speeches at just gone 11pm.

I anticipated a much easier journey home – wrongly as it turned out!

Being a Bank Holiday weekend, the Highways Agency naturally decided that this was the perfect time to close off lanes at strategic places around the motorway network.

I don’t know if they were specifically targeting me but it felt like it.

A couple of dozen miles – split up into about 7 sections were channelled into single lanes with a 40mph limit.

I don’t know if you are aware but quite a lot of trucks can’t do anything like 40 miles an hour – most of these were out last night and I followed them for a considerable distance.

The M3 was actually completely closed off and at one point we had a very amusing time when the M25 was closed off and we were all funnelled off and back again through a set of lights that constantly favoured the non- existent cross traffic.

It was not a wasted opportunity by the Highways Agency though – I counted at least 7 blokes actually working on the 20 odd miles where we were channelled into a single lane.

I suspect that their strategic plan to fuck up as many peoples’ weekend as possible is reaping great rewards today!

Lell and Terry had been together for the day and so I headed back to Solihull (about 70 miles north of Turnip Town)

I arrived back at Lell’s at just gone 2.30 am – almost exactly 12 hours after setting off.

I was expecting a decent kip – after that – unfortunately the 2 Red Bulls I had to keep me awake whilst driving worked for longer than I had anticipated – spiffing!

So the suit goes back in the shed  – when I dug it out yesterday I found the programme from last year’s dinner in the pocket – Alan E found the same thing (his programme not mine obviously – although he does have two suits apparently -toff!)

Nevertheless  you can see just how often I shed (ha ha) the jogger bottoms – and the better news was at least there hasn’t been a funeral for a year! Let’s hope it doesn’t come out again until the next club dinner!

Despite the Highway’s (and energy dinks) efforts it was an excellent night and I look forward to next season’s pre-match lunches – unless of course Boney didn’t get a fucking calendar for Christmas and plans for them to be on holiday weekends!

 

Sevens Out – Round Two

I have posted several decent ‘handbags’ from the French lower leagues recently – these tend to be amateur videos as in the top leagues the players are more wary about bans and fines.

Somewhat different from the old pre-professional days.

What you don’t see very often is 7’s teams getting some retaliation in first.

This clip is from a tournament in the Wallis and Fotuna Islands in the South Pacific –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3y6jpsAmREw

Samoa going hammer and Tonga’s with each other!

Something to Play For

There are just 2 matches to go in the Premiership regular season and there are still some things to play for – at least for a few clubs.

Tonight the Sharks will attempt to complete a full season of home wins against Gloucester.

Theoretically Sale could still make the play-offs, but they will be most concerned in a top 7 finish to guarantee a Champions Cup place in 2016/7.

Tomorrow the Tigers are at home to Worcester and a bonus point win will put them out of reach and make sure they finish in the top 4.

Saints faint hopes of catching Tigers rest on beating Bath tomorrow and then Gloucester away on the 7th May.

The biggest game of the week is at Sandy Park where the Chiefs will take on Wasps – both will finish in the top 4 – at stake tomorrow is a home draw.

London Irish entertain Quins and need at least 4 points to keep their slim hopes of staying up.

Finally Saracens take on the Falcons without the boot of Owen Farrell, but Charlie Hodgson is on hand.

So my predictions –

Sale to beat Gloucester

Tigers guarantee their play-off position by defeating Worcester

Saints will beat Bath – but will still lose out on any hope for the top 4

Chiefs to just about hold off Wasps to make the final round interesting

London Irish to lose to Harlequins, who will qualify for the Champions Cup

Saracens to see off Newcastle, although the Falcons will survive for another Premiership season.

If I’m right next week will look like a dead rubber (not a disaster now that there’s a morning after pill) – with just Wasps and Exeter fighting for something.

The Chiefs game is on BT Sport – two of the most exciting teams in the Premiership – both desperate for home advantage in the semi-finals

So, based on my recent guesses there will still be all to play for next week!

 

 

Just Askean for Trouble

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I would apologise for the dreadful pun in the headline, but then if you’ve been here before you’ll be used to them – and if you haven’t you’ve probably moved onto a porn site by now.

And, oh yeah, I almost forgot – I don’t actually give a toss.

It’s the end of season dinner at Askeans tonight, so I’ll be firing up the old tractor – well, boiling several jugs of scrumpy to get some steam up anyway.

You may well think this is a waste of good scrumpy – and it would be, if good was an adjective that could be applied anywhere near a Turnip Town cider brewer.

I was really pleased to find out that the dinner is on the Friday of a Bank Holiday weekend.

Fucking brilliant – the M4 and M25 won’t be chocker with stupid caravans and truck drivers trying to get some place where they can park up and get trollied and laid over the long weekend.

That was sarcasm – of course it bleeding will!

Probably be just as bad coming back tonight at 2 am. But should be worth the trouble if only to hear Lunny’s speech.

The trip is likely to take around 4 hours so this will be a short post – you’ll know that because I’m just about to stop…told you

 

Aussie Rules?

‘There’s these three Aussies and the first one says…’ sounds like the start of a joke doesn’t it?

Actually I know several very funny Aussie jokes – most of them so non PC that even I can’t tell you them – so that shows you how extreme they are!

This isn’t a joke though – at least I hope it isn’t. These three are respected for their rugby opinions and achievements.

Both Eddie Jones and Michael Lynagh have suggested this week that England can win the summer series down under – Eddie says England will need to go up a gear and is confident they can.

Michael is a bit more bullish and believes that England can ‘whitewash the Wallabies!’ –

https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/sport/a/31441553/england-can-whitewash-wallabies-says-lynagh/

On the back of the resurgence of England under Jones and the recent ‘Grand Slam’ this does not sound to be that optimistic – particularly if you add in the current form of Australian teams in the Super 18.

However, without wishing to dampen the enthusiasm it needs to be remembered that in the 17 tests against Australia (in Australia) England have managed just 3 wins – 2 in 2003 and the last under Martin Johnson in 2010.

Having said that England will arrive having played in the 6 Nations and Australia will be cold – not having played since the World Cup final back in October – so ‘hope springs eternal’

Also the European based Aussie players are unlikely to be released for the series.

We should not underestimate Michal Chieka either – remember he took a shambolic situation  to the Rugby Championship title and to the brink of the World title in less than 12 months – and he doesn’t seem to worry about the form in Super Rugby either. –

http://www.newshub.co.nz/sport/cheika-not-worried-about-super-rugby-form-2016042807#axzz47460eeqH

It will be a fascinating series – both coaches will have an eye on the future – many of the current squads will not be around in 2019 so they will have to start to build for Japan.

The loss of Genia, Giteau and Mitchell gives Chieka a ready-made opportunity to bring in players like Samu Kerevi. He will also have been pleased to see that David Pocock returns to the Brumbies this weekend.

Three Aussies – with views on the tour – with two predicting an England series win – I’d settle for that  2-1 result myself.

Strange Customs

My absolute last game of rugby was in Australia on the Lions tour (as a supporter obviously) – at least it would be obvious if you’d ever seen me attempt to play the game.

I trotted out with some famous names that day, including Finlay Calder and Harro – although Harro’s fame was for entirely different stuff mainly.

I’ve detailed my non effectiveness in this game elsewhere under Lions tours and that isn’t the point of today’s nonsense. I was reminded of a number of incidents when I caught a programme on entering Australia – ‘Border Security’ as well as Mr and Mrs Depp taking a couple of poochs on vacation as they were desperate to see the Sydney Opera House (all 4 of them presumably)

Back to the rugby – knowing that I was going to play I had naturally packed my boots – as I hadn’t played for a couple of years these were both a bit shabby and still had a fair bit of mud on them. Terry was well chuffed when I tried to put them in the suitcase I can tell you.

She insisted that they went in the hand luggage (mine, apparently).

Just before we landed in Australia the cabin crew handed out forms for us to fill in – this was double sided and included a question about whether I had a criminal record. I was going to write ‘I didn’t know it was still a requirement’ but Terry told me not to piss about (not sure she used that exact term, but I got her meaning).

australian-customs

There was also a bit about not taking in plants or mud.

Terry pointedly pointed this out to us.

Both Harro and I ended up having to clean our boots in the gents before heading towards the customs blokes – who totally ignored us as we wandered through.

I always felt cheated that they hadn’t checked the boots – or in my case confiscated them thus saving me the embarrassment of playing in that final game To be fair I was in my 50s at the time (and wish I still was, as both my knees weren’t Donald Ducked back then).

This wasn’t the only odd custom I’ve experienced – the form going to the States asks if you are carrying firearms drugs or anything else illegal (at least they did some years ago when we could still travel)

With this sort of high level security it’s hard to believe that they have any problem with crims isn’t it?

Customs Officer: “you said that you have an AK47 in your luggage sir – I’m afraid you’ll have to come with me”

Terrorist: “Fuck, I meant to tick the ‘No’ box”

We were once interrogated by a customs officer on arriving in the States who insisted that according to his records we were still in the country and hadn’t left several months ago on a previous trip.

I pointed out that we had just landed on a plane from London which made it pretty obvious that we weren’t still in New York – or at least hadn’t been for the minimum of the 7 hour flight.

This did not endear me to the bloke (or Terry to be fair) – oh that warm welcome you get from New Yorkers.

In the early 70s I was sent on a film shoot for OXO in Los Angeles. I was carrying a large bag of crumbled cubes to be used for the ad – it doesn’t look good when the Doris is struggling to crumble the real product and it makes a gooey mess – so we used to shove ready crumbled stuff in her fingers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQETC_cZWFM

No problem so far, but the stuff looked like weed (not the dandelion sort) or hash (not corned beef either). I was supposed to have a letter explaining this but someone forgot to give it to me. Another entertaining discussion ensued at customs in LA – but they were much friendlier than on the East Coast luckily. Less fortunately I was tasked with the job of bringing home several cans of film with a customs declaration form. The films were to be edited in London.

I duly declared the films and was taken to a little room where a nice bloke opened the cans and scanned the first few frames of film.

Rather stupidly I indicated that if I wanted to bring in ‘Debbie does Dallas’ I would have shoved in somewhere in the middle. There followed a rather lengthy period whist he and a mate went right through all 5 reels. You might think this wouldn’t take long for 5 x 30 second commercials – however it was all the film we’d shot over 6 days – trust me it was a bleeding lot.

When we used to be able to travel to Oz – we would always take stuff for Rich that he missed – including Marmite, Hula Hoops and Double Deckers.

Annoyingly, Terry always insisted in declaring these and our entry to the country was inevitably delayed as we joined the long queue of those with stuff to declare. This was rarely a problem however, as Rich and Silvi were always inevitably late in picking us up – we’d been travelling for some 26 hours or so – they lived 20 minutes away!

There were other fun times going to Brazil, Dubai and Mexico, but I can’t be arsed to go through them now – I’ll just mention one more.

My best experiences though were reserved for trying to get in and out of Nigeria.

Getting in was a right laugh, especially when a bloke armed with an assault rifle took your passport and then wandered off for 10 minutes. You were left in the slow queue hoping to fuck he’d come back before you had to explain to the bloke in the glass box that some bastard had just nicked it.

Getting out was even more fun – you have to pay an exit fee (in cash) before you check in. The big notice behind the bloke (in another glass box) said it was 200 Naira. I smiled and handed over the said sum expecting to get my exit slip. He just looked at me and said 600 – I indicated the official sign and he responded with 700. Now I might have been born at night – but it wasn’t last night (or the night before as it was at that time) – so I forked out the amount he wanted.

I found out later that I was not being paranoid – it happens all the time

At check-in the Doris in the smart British Airways uniform insisted that I opened my case and she rummaged through it. She held up my ‘Discman’ (this was the early 90s) and asked “Is this for me?”

I said firmly that no it wasn’t, but I suspect she didn’t hear me or my diction was particularly poor that day as it instantly disappeared into her desk.

I threatened to write to BA as soon as I got back – this seemed to excite her about as much as if I’d offered to buy her dinner.

Terry and I hardly travel anymore – I never thought I’d miss those fun times going through customs – but funnily enough I do!