52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Athens 2004 - AM Sunday 22nd August

I woke up cold this morning - which was a nice change. We've worked out how the air conditioner in the room works then. Off to watch some table tennis today (have to keep making a mental note not to call it 'ping pong' - apparently they think that's derogatory). It's being held in the same place as the rhythmic gymnastics (that's the stuff with the balls and ribbons) but sadly I won't be attending any of that. As we arrive (cab again, looked too damn tricky by bus) it looks like we have the hot ticket for the day - there are hundreds of chinese outside with fistsful of dollars trying to get inside. Seems a bit odd, but apparently the like this kind of thing. We get inside and see why - it's the men's singles semi-finals, and the first game is china vs china. It's interesting up to a point to see how hard they hit the ball, how skillfully they return it, and how much spin they put on it, but basically it's hard to get too interested. One of the chinese guys wins and we move onto the next game, which is Korea v Sweden. There are hundreds of mental swedish fans in the place (now that's not a sport I would imagine was all that big in Scandinavia, but there you go. Apparently Jan-Ove Waldner is a Swedish Legend). The swedish guy loses after a few good rallies, but the Korean guy looks too good (and indeed he goes on to win the gold medal. I thought that might be it, but we then get to see the bronze medal match in the women's singles between Korea and Singapore. The Korean girl is amazing. She seems to have only one shot - the slice - and she plays it every single time. EVERY time. I guess if her opponent works this out, then she's in a whole world of trouble, or maybe it's a tactic specially designed for her current opponent. Either way, it works and she wins. We then get the gold medal match between China and the Peoples Republic of Korea (who seem to have one fan, whereas there are heaps and heaps of Chinese fans, who perhaps have moved on now the badminton is basically over). China win the gold.

Like I said, it's a nice enough venue, and it's easy to admire the skill and reactions of the players. All in all though I have to say that I found it a little dull. Perhaps that's why the boys started early on the beers today. I have to say that I can't face it yet.

Still - off to the stadium for my first taste of the athletics, including the 100m final....Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - magic sport

Tom texts me after the race to tell me that I have been on the BBC (later corroborated by Nick). Nice!

We also learn that Ben Ainslie has completed his magnificent comeback in the Finn and has won the gold.

After a magic morning, we head back into Athens and have lunch in a nice taverna just underneath the acropolis, have a quick wander with Ali and then get a quick hour's kip. With Ali, Rich and Bob I head off towards Piraeus and the Olympiakos stadium to watch a 1/4 final in the football between Mali and Italy. It's a decent enough game and basically runs to type: the africans are exuburant and naive, and the italians are cynical and defensive. It goes to extra time (after the Malians miss a penalty) and then the Italians score just when it looked like being a shootout. Pah! Still, we entertained ourselves royally inventing chants (to the tune of "Joelene"... Mali! Mali! Mali! MALI! and to the tune of "Come on Eileen" ... "come on mali!" etc.)

In looking for a bar after the game to let the crowds subside before we head back into Athens, we narrowly avoid being trapped in a gay bar - well, that's what it looked like. The door was shut, but the neon was on, so we had a look inside, and there was a huge hairy fat man with his shirt off in there. Mik and Rich were keen, but Bob and I were having none of it, so we head back into Athens for moussaka and some beer.

In the meantime John, Jon and Luke have headed off to the main complex to see if they could get some tickets to the velodrome. Chris Hoy picked up a gold for Britain on Friday, and Bradley Wiggins is off in the 1km pursuit, so they are determined to get in. Fair play to the boys, they get tickets (John's ticket is from the Japanese Olympic Committee), and they get to see several world records broken and another British gold medal. After that they get some tickets for the evening athletics and see Kelly Southerton pick up a bronze in the Heptathlon. Another long day for them (and more money spent), but these Olympics are a really big deal for John, and he is determined not to let anything get in his way. Hats off to them, but I'm knackered and need my beauty sleep. Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - Saturday 21st August

Today was all about the rowing. We got up (with some difficulty after the beers consumed at the beach volleyball and beyond) at 05:30. We're moving rooms in the hostel today as well, so I need to pack and move my bag before we can leave. Head out to catch the bus to Schinias, which takes about 45 minutes and goes out almost as far as Marathon. Feeling a bit rough, so at the venue tuck into coffee, water, cheese pie AND pizza (food at the venues is not fantastic, and is definitely not varied). Get to our seats on about the 1850m line and settle down to watch the finals. single sculls, pairs etc. culminating with the men's coxless fours and Matthew Pinsent's assault on a 4th consecutive gold medal. Britain have already done okay by this point, with a bronze medal in the women's double sculls and a silver in the women's pairs. At around 10:30 the men's four sets off. We are sat in merciless sunshine, made all the more potent by the refelction off the water, and we are surrounded by Germans, Kiwis, Belgians, Danes, Norwegians and lots and lots of Brits....

The Brits take an early advantage on the Canadian world champions, but by the time they reach us at about the 18oom mark, they look marginally behind, and there's not far to go. They cross the line and they briefly flash up on the screen as having won, but this is quickly taken down and replaced with a photo finish. Unbelievably tense. The two crews don't know who has won, and it isn't until we go mental in the crowd that they realise that Britain have done it, but a convincing 0.08 of a second! As good as a mile. The crew stay in the boat and row over towards us in the stands, which was nice. Once chap (apparently something to do with the london 2012 bid) jumps into the water and gives Pinsent a flag. It's all very emotional - Matthew Pinsent certainly has nothing left to give and the big man breaks down into tears as the national anthem is played and they receive their medals. I had read before that James Cracknell thought that Pinsent often keeps his best to himself, and that he does just enough when in the boat. Cracknell is a 100%-er and he made it his mission to taunt Pinsent into giving more, even though riling the big man would leave Cracknell gasping. Well, Pinsent had nothing left in the tank after this. That last couple of hundred meters saw him give everything that he had. That's how much he wanted it, and that's why he is such an amazing Olympian. Damn it, I was practically blubbing myself at this point. This was amazing sport, and no mistake. I am proud to be able to say that I was there.

One of Luke's mates sends him a message at this point which just seems to sum up the whole mood: "Piece of Piss".
Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - Street Pizza

They've only had a few ales (note the Oranje hat... it's as if the guys in dominos know of his origins). Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - Friday 20th August

Mmm. Beach Volleyball. Can you tell the athletes apart from the dancers?

Lazy start to the day - awake at about 11am, then up and about for a leisurly stroll around the Plaka and a decent-ish salad for lunch. Walk around the Acropolis too, and get my first proper view of the Parthenon. Must get up there before I leave. Also buy my first piece of Olympic merchandise - a bag - decided I need more room in my day bag than my little mambo shoulder number is providing. This quality piece of 30 Euro Merchandise will proceed to fall apart over the course of the next week...

Head off for a few pints at a nice Heineken bar in Syntagma square. Nice big glasses, nice outdoor terracey thing, lovely hot day... Life is sweet. Can it get any sweeter? Ah yes, we're off to the Beach Volleyball. We watch a men's game, and it's all very well, but as you might expect, it's the women's game that gets everyone excited. To be fair, this is only partially because of the ridiculous costumes, and a lot to do with the fact that it is Greece vs Brazil. The game is pretty good, but I think the brazillians are a different class (stop sniggering at the back). Still the Greeks get pretty excited and it's an interesting way to spend an evening.

Catch the X12 and get off at the old 1896 Panathaniko stadium - where they are holding the archery and the marathon finish - and have a look. It's all lit up and looks absolutely splendid. We were due to come here yesterday, but binned the archery in favour of the badminton. That was a good decision, but it does look fabulous.

We walk a very, very long way home, and stop off for Pizza in the street at dominos. Nice. Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - Thursday 19th August

Ah, the first of many shots taken of us looking like gimps, wrapped up in the union jack (or is it only the union jack when it's attached to a boat, and the union flag at all other times?)

Arrived in Athens at about 0430 and promptly hopped into a cab. Ah yes, Athens cabbies. The roads were of course pretty quiet at this ungodly hour, and I suppose the massive spoiler on the back should have given the game away really. Anyway - the madman proceeded to drive us into Athens at an average speed of about 160km/h. All the while cutting corners, pointing out when we could see the Olympic Stadium, and reading the map (oh yes). Terrifying.

Anyway. Arrived at the hotel Thesseous in one piece. The second cab arrived about 20 minutes later.... Let me tell you the story of our accommodation. The finding of decent accommodation has long been one of our biggest worries for the whole trip. Scat was in charge, and had made a herculean effort to find somewhere reasonable, book it, and then keep ringing the owner up to make sure that the booking was still good. The guy wouldn't take a deposit, which was a worry, but Scat rang up a couple of days before we came out to warn the guy how early in the morning we would be arriving and to make sure it was all still okay. So what happens? We turn up, and this unbelievably seedy chap opens the door up and tells us he's full. But we have a reservation! Ah yes... but many people make reservations and not everybody turns up. We are full, but someone may leave later on today. ARGGHH! The guy tells us we can leave our bags there if we want to go and look for something else, but as we troop upstairs, we can see that people are sleeping on the floor of the kitchen, which hardly inspires us with confidence. It's a nightmare scenario - the middle of the Olympic games, we have tickets for a morning session at the swimming, and our accommodation has fallen through. We decide that we need to find somewhere guaranteed, and so we head off into Syntagma Square, flop out at a cafe with some much needed coffee. It's 6am. What the hell are our options.

Luke comes into his own here - he grabs hold of some of the books and starts ringing people up. As you might expect, lots of them are busy, but not all of them. A couple of the guys go and chase a couple of leads, whilst Mik and I pop into the nearby Carlson Wagonlit to get them to do a search. Nothing doing. All booked out all over Athens. Luckily we found the Student & Travellers Inn. It's clean, air-conditioned and bang in the middle of the Plaka and 5 minutes from the Acropolis, but most importantly of all it has enough room for the 8 of us. The downside?? It's an unbelievable 100 Euros per person per night. We quickly decide we have no choice as Luke, John and I need to get to the swimming, so we settle down. Even at this point it seems unlikely that we will look for anywhere else. A rip-off sure, but at least they are cheerful about it and are charging everyone else the same.

GB has been having a ropey time of the games so far, and some of the press coverage has been pretty negative. Then a bird shits on me as I sit outside the Alpha Bank waiting for the guys queue to pick up some tickets. Lucky for me, I'm wearing my big hat, but it makes a big mess all the same, and I am forced into some emergency cleaning routines. Not pleasant, but I've heard it brings good luck, and given what is to follow for Team GB, I think we can tentatively say that this must have been the turning point!

So - off to the main Olympic complex to watch the swimming. Fail dismally to find the bus stop (or at least to find an Olympic bus #14 stopping at it!) and so we cab it. Again - Greek Cabbies. Helpful, but with no real idea of how to get to the drop off point. After a bit of frustration and some helpful conversations with policemen through the window when they decide to ask US where we are trying to go, we get close enough and go in.

First impressions are that the security is good. The bag is scanned and you walk through a metal detector. They are also very polite about the whole thing, and the Athens 2004 volunteers are an absolute delight: smiley, helpful, chatty.... brilliant. The site is massive though, and we walk past the tennis centre, the main olympic stadium, the gymnastics hall and over towards the velodrome before we get to the aquatic centre. First impressions? All looks pretty good, but you can see that the Greeks just ran out of time on the landscaping front - there are very few plants and some very new looking turf, but mostly we're talking about gravel... which means that when the wind gets up, the site gets a little bit dusty. We're late, and have managed to miss every single one of the 50m freestyle heats. Ah well. We still get to sit there soaking in the atmosphere and watching a succession of heats for things like the women's 800m free style and the men's 200m fly (where we get to see Michael Phelps qualify as 3rd fastest - he goes on to win gold, naturally). Experience the Olympics first hand for the first time, and discover that everyone is so nice - you can happily chat to your neighbour. Luke gets friendly with one girl who gives him a pin and her phone number (pins are big, and as she's religious, she's unlikely to be getting a call back) and John gets friendly with a lovely brazillian girl as we walk over. Everyone is so chatty, the weather is gorgeous, and my first 2 euro heineken slips down a real treat after the morning I've just had.

Man this post is getting long. Just imagine how long the day was for me......

Hotfoot from the swimming over to the Goudi Badminton centre to catch the british pair of Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms in the mixed doubles final. Needless to say, rather a lot of Brits have had exactly the same idea. We sit through a couple of other matches - the women's singles final (after which I see my very first Olympic Medal ceremony) and the men's semi between Denmark and Korea. All very interesting, but not what we're here for. The brits come on to huge cheers, and promptly lose the first game 15-1 against a rather showboating Chinese couple. Luckily they win the next 15-12, which gets us all very excited, and the final game is really tense - despite leading for a long time, they bravely go down 15-12. Brilliant. I've never been so interested in badminton!

The day isn't over yet though. It's back across to the main olympic complex for the tennis. To be honest this is a bridge too far. We try and see Navratilova, but give up, and end up on centre court watching Mardi Fish. By the end of the first set we are basically all asleep, having been up for the best part of 2 days, so we head off back to the hotel. Because we are so tired, we make the fundamental mistake of stopping for food at one of the restaurants on the main tourist drag right next to the hotel - basically because we don't have the energy to fend off the waiter and need to eat. It's terrible. It's one of the basic rules of life that you should never eat anywhere that has waiters that harrass you, have pictures of food on the menu and the menus are laminated. A beginners error.

Still. Knackered. Bed. Sleep.
Posted by Hello

Athens 2004 - Weds 18th August

Right well, as I was saying, I kept a journal of sorts whilst I was out in Athens. I also took a whole heap of pictures whilst I was over there. I'm not too sure of the best way of doing this, but I am going to try to stick them up here in some kind of logical order. The idea is to give you a flavour of my time at the 2004 Olympic games in Athens.

We had quite a late flight with Hellas out of Heathrow (22:35) and so I took a half day at work, pootled down to Hinckley to pick up Mik, and then wandered down to Oxford to pick up the rest of the gang. Chilled out for a little while watching some of the swimming and then set out for the airport.

It seems to be a little traditional now that we cut these things really fine at the airport, but we thought we'd left plenty of leeway this time around. Apparently not. Soon enough we hit a massive traffic jam on the M25. For the first 45 minutes it was okay, but then we all went a bit quiet as we all worked out how little we had moved, and how far we still had to go to get to the airport. We were crawling and were starting to sweat a little. Rich was already at the airport, but Luke was on the bus behind us... time to worry. Still, we finally got through it, and to be honest it puts everything into perspective when you see the torn up wrecks of a couple of cars on the slip road between the M25 and the M4. Parked up and headed to the airport for check in. I'd never flown Hellas before, but judging by the check in staff, they're alright with me. She was so helpful and polite. Onto the plane and off into the night.
Posted by Hello

Monday, August 30, 2004



well, the long and the short of it is that I'm back from Athens. I kept a journal whilst I was over there, and took a heap of pictures, so the plan is that I will put all of that online here when I get a minute.

I'll try not to leave it too long... but we'll see how we go, shall we?

Back to work tomorrow, worst luck. Today was the last UK Bank Holiday before 27th December. That sucks.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Packing, packing, packing

It's fantastically exciting that I am off to Athens tomorrow night, but I hate the packing involved. Sure, it's basically pretty easy right? There are some things that I must take:
- event tickets
- flight tickets
- passport
- camera (& charger)
- airport car parking details

and some things I would be well advised to take with me:
- big brimmed hat
- sunglasses
- sun block (it's upwards of thirty degrees)
- washing stuff
- contact lense stuff
- etc.

and the rest I can pretty much get out there....

but that's not how it works is it? I'm currently wrestling with:
- the number of t-shirts to take
- the contents of my wash bag
- my roberts radio
- the contents of my cd wallet for the car
- the fit of my glasses (no really - I know this is the first time I have mentioned it here, but this is something that obsesses me on a regular basis... it's a nightmare and I have substantial obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I may yet pop in to see Merv in Vision Express before I leave. The man's a legend.)

and so on, and so forth.

The good news is that tomorrow is when I leave, and all the worrying (about the packing anyway) can stop. The bad news is that I have until about 3pm to be thinking about it).

Got some tickets for the swimming today. This means that my first day will consist of:
1) Land at 4am
2) go to swimming pool to watch some heats
3) go to the old olympic stadium to watch some archery
4) go to tennis

I suspect that with that and the overnight flight, I will be well tired come Thursday night. But as this guy says - it's the olympics! Ready on time, and looking pretty damn good.

I'll try and update when I'm out there, but we'll see, eh?

Monday, August 16, 2004

A bald skinny bloke and his lovely girlfriend

I think I can safely say that I have never been to a wedding I have enjoyed more. Everything went so well, starting with the weather, which was nice all day.... the garden looked absolutely splendid, the food was delicious and the booze freeflowing. I'm not big on ceremonies that make glib promises about "forever" (how can you promise to do anything forever? You can promise to try, but I suppose that's not very romantic is it?) anyway, it was nice.

Alice's mother, father, brother and sister were over from Korea for the occasion and I discovered that they take the idea of extended family VERY seriously. Our two families are now joined, and this is very important in Korea. Alice and David will be having another ceremony in Seoul in May, and Caitlin and I have been invited to attend. Naturally, I thought for about a second before accepting without reservation. It is, after all, another Olympic city to cross off the list ("one of the tricky ones" as JVP kindly pointed out). Apparently, a man of the stature of Alice's father will be expected to invite about 1000 guests...

Anyway. I could go on at length about this, but it won't make very interesting reading.

A really lovely day.

The house was so full that we had to stay in a farmhouse down the road, but I suppose you can't have everything, right (although it was a bit weird - Mrs Adams last saw me when I was about 7, and I think it's fair to say that I have grown a bit since then)
Posted by Hello

A lovely day

The happy couple exchanging their vows...

As you can see, both the bride and the groom wore traditional Korean wedding outfits - and I have to say that they both looked very good indeed. Apparently more and more Korean girls are opting for the English style meringue. Shame.Posted by Hello

Friday, August 13, 2004

Off to a family wedding...

Down to Buckinghamshire in a tick and to the celebration of my elder brother's wedding. The actual legal ceremony took place in Scotland on Tuesday afternoon, but the big garden party type affair is being held at my mum and dad's. To be honest, I think it's bigger deal for my parents than it is for my brother... he seems pretty relaxed, but they have 3 sons, so possibly they never thought they would get to host something like this (the newest addition to the family is Korean, and although there is going to be a bash in Korea, this one is happening first).

Full details here when I get back...

I'll be missing the Olympics opening ceremony of course, but as they are holding the whole event around my trip to Athens, it would be churlish to complain, no?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Football? Already?

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I have just attended my first football match of the new season. Nottingham Forest vs Ipswich and it was pretty good, as it goes. My boys nearly blew it again, but pulled back a face-saving draw (2 down at half-time and 2-2 at the final whistle). After defeat on Saturday... welcome back to division one (yeah, I know it's the Championship now, it just doesn't sound right yet)

There's a test match on tomorrow though.

And the US PGA Golf is on.

And the Olympics, obviously.... in exactly 7 days times, as I write this, I will be boarding the plane for Athens. Exciting, no?

Sport. Mmmmm. Nice.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Weather, Interpol & Prozac in the water supply

You know how I was talking about the weather this morning? At the risk of enhancing my English-ness by talking about nothing else.... it rained solidly all night and until about 3pm this afternoon. The river wasn't too high, but the streets were awash with water. Then the sun came out and the temperature started to rise. By the time I went out for my run this evening at about 19:30, it was bloody tropical and was so humid I think I melted about halfway round (and this run was a real bonus too - my gym kit was in the car because of the crappy weather, but I really love to get some exercise outdoors at this time of the year. The gym is for when it's all dark and miserable).


Whilst running, I was listening to the first Interpol album. I may have mentioned before, but I'm something of a song lyrics man - it's often the lyrics that turn me onto a new band, and is probably one of the reasons why I love bands like The Smiths and Manic Street Preachers... all wordy. Anyway. Had the Ipod plugged in had a good listen to "Turn on the Bright Lights"

Obstacle 2 goes something like this:

I'm gonna pull you in close gonna wrap you up tight
gonna play with the braids that you came here with tonight
I'm gonna hold your face and toast the snow that fell
because friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye
I think he's making something special and I'm smart enough to try
if you don't trust yourself for at least one minute each day
well you should trust in this girl cause loving is coming our way

if you can fix me up girl you'll go a long way
if you can fix me up girl you'll go a long way

I'll stand by all this drinking if it helps me through these days
(take my love in these small doses)
It takes a long time just to get this all straight
(take my love in these small doses)
I'll showcase on route 7 when i find the right place
(take my love in these small doses)
It takes a long time just to get this all straight
(take my love in these small doses)
in my mind this is my free time

because friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell
if you can fix me up girl you'll go a long way
if you can fix me up girl you'll go a long way

I'll stand by all this drinking if it helps me through these days
(take my love in these small doses)
I've spent a long time corresponding in my own way
(take my love in these small doses)
I'll showcase on route 7 when I find the right place
(take my love in these small doses)
It takes a long time just to get this all straight
(take my love in these small doses)
in my mind this is my free time
to break it all away
spend it all today
spend it all today
it took time then I found you
it took time then I found you

Fantastic song, and interesting lyrics... but what does it mean?

"Stella was a diver and she was always down" is about oral sex though, right?


I reckon the drinking water tastes funny at the moment. We use a Brita filter which we keep in the fridge, but I still think the water is tasting a bit odd.

I'd say it was the Prozac, only I'm such a miserable bastard....

The end of the world?

I'm no great student of the bible, and I'm certainly not a religious man, but it has certainly been raining a lot around here lately. The last month or so seems to have been extremely wet. I play 5-a-side football every Thursday night, and for the last 3 weeks I have got absolutely drenched in torrential (and very un-English) downpours.

It's been quite muggy actually, and I don't think the English are very good in these conditions - as a nation I think we were designed to live in a climate where we need our central heating on. I think it's this humidity that is leading to all this rain. Whatever (it's been a long time since the hydrology part of my Geography A-Level).

The final straw for me today was when I arrived at work and the damn car park had flooded. Naturally, I parked up anyway, but I fully expect to get wet feet on my way out tonight. Stupid climate.

Lisa Whiteman is my new discovery - I think her weblog is superb. In terms of the quality of the writing, I don't think I've seen anything better, and to be honest it makes me feel that the quality of mine is a bit shabby. In another very un-English display, I decided that I would pass the compliment on, and emailed her... and she was nice enough to reciprocate and tell me that "your English seems very English to me (makesense?)". Does it? I think I take that as a compliment...

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Ebay Virgin no more!

Just completed my first ebay purchase - A Wisden Anthology 1900-1940 for a tenner. Nice. Thanks Mr_Midwinter !

Jazz? Hmm Nice

Nice weekend in Oxford - main purpose of the visit was a trip to Shoreditch and to a Vietnamese restaurant and then a Jazz club in honour of Scat and Emma C's 30th Birthdays (sorry can't remember the names, but the jazz club was near that table football bar). There had been some debate over the dress-code (in that Emma wanted us to make an effort, and we wanted not to bother). In the end I settled on a decent shirt with cufflinks, cords and shoes. Naturally it was therefore the hottest day of the year to date, and I was bloody roasting. Still, nice beef stew, nice jazz, nice company and the journey on the Oxford Tube was painless.
Late night (home to Rich's by about 03:30), greasy breakfast and the papers, round to the idiot brothers for the BBCs top 50 Olympic moments, and then back up to Nottingham in time for tea. Sounds pretty mundane written down, huh? Well, it was a nice weekend - especially on friday night when I had a couple of quiet pints with Rich - The Honeypot and Far From the Madding Crowd are nice pubs, and I'm not sure I've been in either before. In the latter, I had a good chat with the barman about cider, before being recommended Thatcher's Spartan, which was very nice -- not sure my head agreed on Saturday morning though.
Even managed to squeeze in a run saturday morning before pissing off down to London.
JVP's Dutch shirt arrived as well - name spelt correctly this time - but hats off to Soccerbox for making the extra effort to make sure it got down to Oxford on time. Shame you got it wrong first time, but good follow-up work leaves me as a happy customer!

Did I say it was hot? Good practice for Athens, maybe?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Chernobyl Motorbike ride a hoax?

Was stumbling around the web this evening and saw that the photos of that woman going around the radioactive wasteland around chernobyl on a motorbike were a hoax. I found those photos quite moving when I first went through them. After a bit of reflection, I'm not sure this lessens their impact. Certainly, it's a little sad to think that someone has gone to the trouble of faking them, but to be honest, the emotions were stirred by the aftermath of the explosion and the fact that it's a modern tragedy that has more or less been forgotten by everyone. You can apparently tour the wasteland though....

Chernobyl - I was about 12 when that happened... 18 years ago. Some stats.

  • 100,000 people evacuated from the blast zone in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia
  • 25 000 of the 800 000 liquidators have so far died as a result of their exposure to radiation
  • Estimated total number of deaths so far - 100,000
  • c. 1800 children and adolescents in the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus have contracted cancer of the thyroid because of the reactor disaster
  • this number expected to rise to 8,000 in the next 10 years
  • The number of breast cancer cases in Gomel (Belarus) has doubled

Let's not let the veracity of the photos get in the way of this ongoing tragedy.

Almost forgot to mention - I've basically finished Spider-Man 2. Well, I haven't completed the game, in that there seems to be some more stuff to do (get more hero points, collect the skyscraper tokens, complete all the races etc.) to get to 100%. I have however defeated Dr. Octopus and rescued MJ, who has now declared her undying love (had to wait until she knew me and spider-man were one and the same... so shallow) I think getting to 100% enables you to get the Venom costume, which will be pretty cool, in a geeky kinda way... Not sure I'll have the requisitite patience though. We'll see. Frisquette is at Salsa tonight, so I'll have a couple of hours to myself... if I play the game, I'll probably see it through to the end. If I don't, and end up watching BB or a DVD (I quite fancy Donnie Darko), then I might not bother.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Just on my way to bed last night and I saw that Morrissey had announced a tour... he's a wilfully obscure bugger though - the venues are:

Paisley Town Hall (September 2)
Perth City Hall (3)
Blackpool Empress Ballroom (4)
Bridlington Spa (6)

After some umming and ahhing I took the plunge and got a pair of tickets for the Blackpool gig - partly because it's a Saturday, but mainly because I have been kicking myself since about 1994 that I didn't go and see Moz on the "Vauxhall and I" tour and then thought I had missed my chance forever. I did see him at Glastonbury this year, but I really, really wanted to see him doing his own show in front of his own fans. We'll make a weekend of it - find a nice hotel, have some fish and chips and perhaps a spot of shopping in Manchester on the way home.

Sounds like a great venue - it's a proper ballroom with a sprung floor, crystal chandeliers and everything. Capacity is about 3000, so quite intimate too.

There's apparently a decent chance he will do a proper UK tour at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, but I guess I'll just go and see him again. He's business again this year - was apparently a bit unlucky with the Mercury Music Prize shortlist - but it's a cracking album.

The Blackpool gig sold out at about 5pm and out of idle curiosity, I popped over to Ebay, and I don't know why it shocks me that there are already so many tickets for these shows on there, but it does. There are some listings on there that have 7 days to go, and they are starting the bidding at £85 for a pair of tickets. That's at least £20 profit before any bidding has started. This is profiteering at the expense of the fan (and I would guess that it is in this case profiteering BY the fans, given that this was a presales link). I have a friend who just tried to buy a couple of tickets and can't - her only option now looks like going to one of these scum who deliberately bought more than they need just to make a bit of cash. I don't have a gripe with the mechanism per se, because it happens that you end up with tickets that you don't need. I just think it's awful that human nature seems to mean that we try and screw each other to the floor. You can cry market forces if you want, and you can say that people only pay what they think they are worth. I still say shame. There are genuine fans out there who will not be at this gig because of this.

(and ironically, I have been having just this argument with Ian at work - Ian just made £500 on front row tickets to an Elton John concert and has no qualms about queuing up for tickets just to sell them on. Pah. He collects bottles - what does he know?)

Who says that geeks have no sense of humour:

Q: How many Ipod owners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

a: Bloody hell! When did Apple bring out that attachment?

ba-dum-dum-tch etc.

Monday, August 02, 2004

I've just been reflecting on Myers-Briggs personality typing. I'm an INTP, and it's frighteningly accurate really. For some reason I find it comforting that we only represent about 1% of the population (and I imagine that anyone who knows me well also probably finds that fact comforting too....)

Perhaps, with this in mind, this isn't an unrrelated interest then - Ipod therefore I am....

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Either a typical example of an "honesty bookshop" in Hay-on-Wye, or a really stupid way of trying to get rich. Posted by Hello
Had a nice trip to Hay-on-Wye on Saturday - apparently it was one of the busiest days you could pick to hit the M5 because school holidays mean everyone and his caravan was heading down to the South-West. Amazingly, the Hereford/Borders area seems to avoid most of this traffic, in spite of being one of the most beautiful parts of the country.

Anyway - it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we popped in to Dunkertons on the way down to buy some cider (frisquette and I bought one mixed case, Dave & Jan bought about 6 cases!). Basically this is the farm shop of an organic cider brewery. We were served by a chap with a nice country burr and a marvellous mullet. Excellent - just what you need when in the english countryside - some yokels and some cider........We elected to have a few bottles of the medium dry Black Fox, a few bottles of the Organic Extra Dry and one bottle of Perry. Mmmm appley alcoholic goodness.

Was quite restrained in Hay itself - purchased one wisden (1992), one book on the bodyline series, and two of the wisden anthology things. Had some nice tucker and some decent company. All in all a nice way to spend the day. In spite of the early-ish start, the long drive and the late arrival back, somehow much more relaxing than my normal saturday routine.

Nice part of the world. I think we will be going back for a long weekend.