Category Archives: Games

Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

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Glory, glory, Leeds United! #353/365


smiley

Not many posts to go now before I complete my 365 things to be grateful for so I shall have to be selective.

It’s been a while since the once mighty Leeds United gave me anything to be grateful for. We’ve been languishing in the lower leagues since 2004. Scandalous really, when you think about the size of the club.

team

Leeds United is the benchmark for how not to run a football club. And the new owner, convicted tax dodger, Massimo Cellino doesn’t appear to be fairing any better. We’re already on our fourth manager this season.

But one can’t simply change one’s allegiances because the team is going through a sticky patch. Admittedly, a decade-long sticky patch.

Supporting a football team – or any team for that matter – is an act of basic tribalism. And, as we all know, a tribe is for life, not just for Christmas. So we have to take the rough with the smooth. God knows we’ve had our fair share of rough. Even more than Wayne Rooney.

'ave it.

‘ave it.

Most of Leeds United’s success came in the late 60s and early 70s before I started watching them in the mid 1970s, just as they began to decline. Though, I did get to see them win the old first division title in 1992 before it changed to the Premier League.

To pay homage to that team, I have to give mention to our outstanding midfield quatro of: the combatant David Batty in the middle, partnered by the graceful Gary McAllister. On the right, the feisty and mesmerising Gordon Strachan and the on the left wing, the beguiling Gary Speed. (May the gods rest his soul.)

speed

Honours

We won the league title three times in ‘69, ’74 and ’92.

Won the FA Cup in 1972 thrashing Arsenal 1-0. Alan ‘Sniffer’ Clarke scoring the only goal.

Won the League Cup in ’66. (Beating Arsenal 1-0.)

Won the Charity Shield in ’69, ’74 and ’92.

Lost 2-0 in the final of the European Cup in 1975 against Bayern Munich. Though we did have two penalty appeals turned down and a goal disallowed even though the ref initially gave it, then changed his mind after a lot of badgering from Franz Beckenbauer.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Billy Bremner being a perfect role model.

Won the UEFA cup in ’68 and ’71. Beating Hungarian team, Ferencváros and Italy’s Juventus respectively.

Lost 1-0 to A.C. Milan in the ’73 final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup final.

Champions League semi-finalists in 2001.

We’ll have to wait patiently until a chairperson with integrity and vision comes along to change the fortunes of the great Leeds United. And come it will, one day.

Meanwhile, here are some of their highlights.

 

FOOTBALL LEAGUE

1968-69 First Division champions

1973-74 First Division champions

1991-92 First Division champions

1964-65 First Division runners-up

1965-66 First Division runners-up

1969-70 First Division runners-up

1970-71 First Division runners-up

1971-72 First Division runners-up

1923-24 Second Division champions

1963-64 Second Division champions

1989-90 Second Division champions

1927-28 Second Division runners-up

1931-32 Second Division runners-up

1955-56 Second Division runners-up

2009-10 League One runners-up

 

FA CUP

1972 FA Cup winners

1965 FA Cup finalists

1970 FA Cup finalists

1973 FA Cup finalists

 

FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP

1968 Football League Cup winners

1996 Football League Cup finalists

 

CHARITY SHIELD

1969 FA Charity Shield winners

1974 FA Charity Shield runners-up

1992 FA Charity Shield winners

 

FA YOUTH CUP

1993 FA Youth Cup winners

1997 FA Youth Cup winners

 

EUROPEAN CUP

1974-75 European Cup finalists

1969-70 European Cup semi finalists

1992-93 European Cup second round

 

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

2000-01 Champions League semi finalists

 

EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS CUP

1972-73 European Cup-Winners Cup finalists

 

INTER CITIES FAIRS CUP/UEFA CUP

1967-68 European Fairs Cup winners

1970-71 European Fairs Cup winners

1966-67 European Fairs Cup finalists

1965-66 European Fairs Cup semi finalists

1968-69 European Fairs Cup quarter finalists

1971-72 UEFA Cup first round

1973-74 UEFA Cup third round

1979-80 UEFA Cup second round

1995-96 UEFA Cup second round

1998-99 UEFA Cup second round

1999-00 UEFA Cup semi finalists

2001-02 UEFA Cup third round

2002-03 UEFA Cup third round

 

LEAGUE HISTORY

1920-24 Second Division

1924-27 First Division

1927-28 Second Division

1928-31 First Division

1931-32 Second Division

1932-47 First Division

1947-56 Second Division

1956-60 First Division

1960-64 Second Division

1964-82 First Division

1982-90 Second Division

1990-92 First Division

1992-2004 FA Premier League

2004-07 Championship

2007-10 League One

2010- Championship

  • Record all-time goalscorer : Peter Lorimer 238
  • Record appearances in league matches : Jack Charlton 629
  • Record all-time appearances : 773 Jack Charlton/Billy Bremner

 

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Things for which I am grateful #44/365


Boules.

Or, Pétanque as they call it in the South of France.

london wedding photographer janis ratnieks

If you’ve never played it before, it’s a bit like bowls, except you throw the ball underarm rather than roll it. The person whose ball is closest to the little wooden jack takes the points.

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I love to have a game or two when I’m on holiday in France. The clack of metal against metal, plumes of ochre dust as your boule comes crashing down onto an opponent’s, the erratic run of the jack on a gravelly surface…

Maybe it’s because I’m a bit lazy that this genteel art appeals to me. If you can’t hold a glass of rosé in your hand whilst playing a sport, I’m not really interested. That said, I did once whup my brother at tennis while drinking a can of lager and smoking a fag.

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petanque

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Things I am grateful for #10 & 11


Softball & Baseball.

I first took up softball in Ireland back in 1992 when I was 28 and played for about 10 years. I absolutely loved  it.

For about 9 of those years I played for a team called The Thirteen Threes. (Named after the 13.3 second world record for running around a baseball diamond.) I actually did it in 13.1 seconds. No, seriously. But that was on a softball diamond which is about 30 yards shorter.

For the last year, I played for our arch nemesis – The Troops. But, to be fair, a lot of my mates played for them.

The highlight of the season was the summer cup competitions which were held over the weekend, either in Cork or Galway. For teams like us, it was just an excuse for a major piss-up. And it never failed to disappoint.

I was lucky enough to play shortstop for most of my softballing days. And saw myself very much like this…

How I see myself playing softball.

How I see myself playing softball.

I suspect this was closer to reality…

How I actually play softball.

How I actually play softball.

As I said, I loved playing the game, not just for the sport, but because of the team spirit and camaraderie, and the innumerable wonderful people I met whilst playing it.

Could’ve done without breaking most of my pinkies though. The worst was a double fracture and dislocation sliding into second base. Still, not as bad as having my palate fractured from taking a ball in the mouth. Or having my nose shattered for a similar reason. Both of which happened to teammates.

For that, I am truly grateful.

I got into watching baseball as a result of playing softball. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch it on TV over in the UK. (Not sure why American Football deserves that much more coverage.) So I buy the odd DVD or watch clips on YouTube and imagine I’m the one getting the triple play. (I use a hairbrush as a microphone on weekends.)

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This was the Thirteen Threes in Cork in about 1993. That’s me, fag in hand, dipping under the railing. Not sure where I’m going. It certainly wasn’t onto the pitch as we were spectators. I think we might’ve actually been watching The Troops in the final. (We were all mates.)

From left to right: I think that’s Al O’Donohoe (with his sweet cheeks to camera), Peter somebody (he was new), John Flynn (the gaffer), Briain Wright, Ian Doherty, yours truly, Bernadette Dooley, Tony Purcell and Liz Flynn. No idea who the geezer is on the far right. So many more teammates not in this shot who I am still close friends with today.

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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Gold for London 2012 – A marathon event.


As you clever people probably know, the marathon sporting event got its name from The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC between the Persians, under Darius I, and Athens.

A force of 10,000 Athenians took on an estimated 600,000 invading Persians on the plains of Marathon, north east of Athens.

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Marathon today. (Or yesterday. Not sure when it was taken.)

Under cover of darkness the Athenian hoplites dished out some Greek whupass killing an estimated 6,500 Persians while suffering a meagre 200 dead in reply.

olympics, london2012

Athenian hoplites

Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, was promptly dispatched from Marathon to Athens to herald their great victory over the Persians. And the distance? 26 miles, of course. Hence, why the marathon is 26 miles in length.

olympics, london2012

Pheidippides

You can still visit the Plains of Marathon where the battle took place. But, unfortunately, due to global realignment, it’s been renamed The Battle of Snickers.

That extremely clunky segue leads me on to the point of this post: London 2012 Olympic Games.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an ad by Channel 4 for the Paralympics called Meet the Superhumans, stating that I didn’t have much interest in the Olympics.

But, after Danny Boyle’s [et al] Olympic opening ceremony, I was absolutely gripped by London 2012 fever.

Diametrically apposed to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, this was a celebration of what makes Britain – its people. Everything from farmers and factory workers to suburban life and our glorious NHS.

Music, dance, literature, art, comedy, it was all there in surreal bucket loads. (Could’ve done without the whole Queen nonsense, mind.)

olympics, londo2012

London 2012 opening ceremony

london2012, olympics

London 2012 opening ceremony

To me, the London 2012 Olympics have helped me define what it means to be British. Not whether I am English or part of a group of home nations called England, Scotland and Wales. But a veritable smorgasbord of eclectic cultures and diverse backgrounds from all over the globe.

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London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

London 2012 opening ceremony

The London 2012 Olympics made me feel proud to be British.

Our athletes are the true knights of the realm.

Not business people. Business people get money. That is their reward. That is what they strive for. They don’t do it for Britain. They do it for themselves. And that’s fine. That’s their path.

These athletes chose a different path. They have sacrificed everything just to be called an Olympian. And, maybe, just maybe, be great enough to win a medal.

On Mount Olympus, the mighty Zeus would have made Jessica Ennis a demi-goddess.

Here are just a few of my personal highlights, but I take nothing away from all the other athletes who took part and made it a festival of sport worthy of the ancient gods of Olympus.

I salute you all.

Mo Farah, 5k and 10k

Andy Murray after whuppin’ Federer.

Jade Jones, taekwondo.

Beth Tweddle, gymnastics.

Bradley Wiggins, cycling.

The Brownlee bros., triathlon.

Nicola Adams, first ever woman to win an Olympic medal in boxing. (And she’s from Leeds!)

Jason Kenny, riding a bike.

Laura Trott, going for a jaunt.

The legend – Victoria Pendleton sharing the love.

The demi-goddess, Jessica Ennis, heptathlon.

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Meet the Superhumans


If you don’t live in London, but you do live somewhere else in England, you might be a bit fed up of hearing the media banging on about what legacies London 2012 will leave for the rest of Britain.

Well, the clue’s in the name, people!

I live in sunny Stockport, in the northwest of England, and I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what kind of legacy London 2012 will leave for Manchester.

We had the Empire Games back in 2002. And we still have loads of lovely legacies such as the Etihad Stadium, where Man City play. Then there’s the velodrome, where people can ride their bikes… I get a bit stuck after that.

You don’t hear Londoners whingeing about the Commonwealth games not leaving a legacy in t’ Big Smoke.

They’re not our games.

It’s a non-question. It’s non-news.

To be honest, the Olympics don’t do a lot for me in terms of sporting excitement.

I’m more of a turn on a sixpence put it in the back of the onion sack kind of bloke.

What does excite me though, is this ad for the Paralympics by those lovely people at Channel 4.

It really makes me want to watch the Paralympics much, much more than the Olympics because of their Superhuman attitudes and abilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting for one second that Olympians are any less motivated or hard working than Paralympians.

But, because I’m not that interested in the Olympics, it would have to take something superdooper special to get me interested. And this does.

Yes, it’s a little bit predictably shot, but it does get the hairs on the back of my neck standing, so job done. Not all ads are aimed at the head.

Not only is it a great ad. But I’m really looking forward to seeing some of these gladiators in action.

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