Friday 10th February 2006

What a week! I wish I could say it is truly over, but this weekend is just a minor rest bite, I know next week, at least work wise is going to be interesting to say the least. Well I will put that to the back of my mind and concentrate on the week that was. A history and record breaking week. Finally in just over a year we have taken the queue on the helpdesk from around 450 calls to the figure of 39 (well for a few hours over the lunch time period) Something I never imagined possible, when looking back I had over one hundred calls in my personal queue. How things have changed. It was a collective effort and I should thank my colleagues and perhaps most importantly my manager, for both driving us with a hard stick and a carrot in the form of firstly Foster’s beer and then Subway lunches. I suppose thankfully my work has some numeric figure attached, many other people work to a big pile of paper in their in tray, rather a case by case system, as we do. Personally it makes life easier and you know when and where to focus your efforts. Better than filing bits of paper away in a filing cabinet, any day. Suppose I have to be realistic, there will come a point in time, when I will have to do some real work. I have booked two of the biggest weekends in my social calendar. Unfortunately, the icing on the cake looks less likely with every passing day. I was hoping to make my first ever England international, the first England game at the new Wembley. A photo taken recently (below) from over at FlickR shows you exactly why this will be the greatest stadium, the world has ever seen.

Last Saturday my Dad received some post and rushed downstairs to show me contents of the A4 card envelope. I wasn’t expecting anything interesting. To my shock, it was an exclusive invitation to join the Corinthian Club. What is this I hear you ask? Well the web site will tell the full story, but it is less about the club and more so the place, the venue, the showpiece, if you will. Inside I found an amazing glossy booklet about plans and aspirations for the new Wembley. I was blown away by some of the statistics, images and quotes from a Who’s Who in the world of sport and entertainment. I have uploaded the images to FlickR. I took the magazine to show Chris at work and he too was amazed and looked forward to going to the first home England game against Hungary at the end of May.

Corinthian Club

What could I possibly add?

On Wednesday morning, our hearts we somewhat saddened at the news that Wembley would not be ready for the FA Cup final, but also the England game and the Football Association expected the first football match to be the Community Shield. The future looks bleak, but anyone fancy the opening match against Andorra? However, I cannot leave the discussion on football on a downer. While Arsenal may not have been the well oiled machined of old, the form guide points to the blue side of Everton being on top. On Sunday my Dad came into my room and handed me an Everton match day programme from November. Instantly there was only one person I was going to give this to. Flicking through the pages, I discovered a scribble on the page devoted to the Toon strike partnership. Looking closer, I exclaimed in a voice of astonishment, “It’s signed by Alan Shearer!”. My Dad didn’t know this and was too surprised and wore a broad grin, trying to convince me to get the centre pages framed. I decided against it, even though Alan Shearer will forever hold a special place in my household. Ten years ago this summer (has it really been that long?) Euro 96 fever had taken over the country and while both of my parents are not fans of the beautiful game, they did enjoy watching some of the games, and my youngest sister, aged two and half at the time, started to shout Shearer to the television screen. To this day, the only player my Mum actually knows is the Geordie number 9. I find it difficult to explain he has retired from international football, as she still expects him to pop up and score the odd goal when I’m watching England games. He may not have won anything in his playing career at the Tyne, but breaking the club goal scoring record is an achievement that will stand the test of time. The lack of loyalty shown by modern players means that there will never been a player at the peak of his powers long enough to score over two hundred goals for one club.

Alan Shearer's Autograph

In the mid 1990s, 1997 I think, but don’t quote me on that, there was a fast food television advertising campaign featuring Alan, who at the time could do no wrong and had the midas touch. Football became sexy and the marketing men rubbed their hands. I have had a quick search around on the inter web, but nothing concrete is available, so I’m using my dodgy memory to recall the full story. Craig Carpenter starred as the spotty employee, constantly waiting, in vain, in the rain for the autograph of his idol. Then one quiet evening, Alan walks into the chain that Craig is working in and pays by cheque (as if multi millionaire footballer’s don’t carry cash, give over!) our teenage fan, seizes the opportunity for the striker to give a second signature to verify it against the cheque. Finally, he has the autograph he had waited a lifetime for. So had I, in the palm of my hand, but decided that it deserved a better home with, dare I say it, a bigger football fan. Busy weekend ahead, with a trip across to the Midlands to visit some family friends. Then perhaps spend Sunday doing some work from home, in preparation for the big week in the office. Plus I feel both my computer and web site need a clean up and I will try to fit in some housekeeping. Will put together a quick round up tomorrow night, it is late and I should really get some sleep.

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