Posts tagged: Chelsea

Sunday 30th April 2006

Finally got around to cleaning up and updating my XBox this morning. Well when I say XBox I mean the software, XBox Media Centre. The last release of the software was dated Christmas 2005 and I uploaded it on 4th January this year. So for the past four months, I have left the software from T3CH running and it has been one of the more stable releases. To be honest I have gone off the console in recent months and give it little attention. This was perhaps only the second time in my modding history that I loaded on the new release with no problems whatsoever. In the past, it would take me at least a handful attempts to get the software working, with my mistaking usually centering around the incorrect spelling of a directory. It felt good giving the console a spring clean and that bug would come back to haunt me later in the evening.

After watching Jimmy Hill’s Sunday Supplement, I tuned in for the first twenty minutes of Goals on Sunday. I wanted to see the goals from the Chelsea game plus José and the boys celebrating at the end. Watching another team win the League stirs strange emotions in me as a football fan. It spurs me on to wish my team onto greater things in the coming season. I had been out last night at a friend’s house, so missed out on watching MOTD. Looking over the cause of the season, Chelsea deserve their title and I admit Arsenal were never really in the title race from the off. You could clearly see the big gulf between the two London sides at the Community Shield in August last year. (Feels like a lifetime ago now, looking back). All I can hope that Wenger can completing the rebuilding over the summer and after this season of transition, we have a season of great domestic success. They saw football is far to predictable these days, but it is never just about the winner whom crosses the line first. It is about the drama on the track on the way. The champions may have been crowed but there are plenty of things to be fighting for further down the table. I was hoping Tottenham would falter against Bolton this afternoon, opting to listen to live commentary on Five Live only to fall asleep a little after the first half. Earlier this afternoon, I was looking at Radio Times online to see if any good movies were on. Bill &amp Ted’s Excellent Adventure was beening screened on ITV1 at 13:50 and I watched some of the ending. Such a cheesy 1980s teen movie but still entertaining as it was when I first saw it back in 1989. Whatever happened to Alex Winter?

At 9pm, after dinner I came back to my room and wondered what to do. There was nothing worth watching on terrestrial television and my Mum had already booked her time with Sky so I had the evening very much free to do as I pleased. I decided do some housekeeping. I put Romeo Must Die DVD on my computer and with perhaps only 40% concentration on the movie, pulled out my document drawer and took out all the paperwork. It was time to clear this chunk up. Generally speaking I am quite a tidy and organised person but I tend to fall into lapses of laziness. For examples, most of my statements were together in date ordered but then my car documents, ISA statements and other store card statements were all thrown into the same file, completely a mess. I had opted not to label up all the files before, when I got them back in January last year, because I thought I could work without them. How stupid was that? What has been happening to date is all my important mail would be kept in a drawer until the weekend. Then, usually on a Sunday morning I would organise what I would be keeping filed and what would be shredded and file these away. While this system does work, having a “catch all” file that slowly gets stuffed with all the unsorted junk just makes the job really difficult over time. This had to be done and I had just been putting it off for months. It took me just over two hours, a little longer than the movie in fact, but it feels great to have everything filed away in it’s rightful place and two big bags of paper that can be shredded and recycled. It is amazing how much chunk you can actually throw out and there were a few surprises I found. Including my university computer login password sheet which is coming up to nearly six years old. Generally speaking I am a hoarder, I like to hold onto things and rarely throw things away. Those things I do trash, I have to think long and hard (for a few minutes at least) whether I will actually need the letter, document or manuscript. My Dad always believes it is better to throw it away, if it is important you can always get a duplicate copy. I prefer to be in control of all my paperwork. The paperless office is purely a dream.

Sunday 18th December 2005

Looking back, this is a weekend, which I hope had never happened. The omens were not good from the start. My amp installation, scheduled for Saturday morning, was moved back to Saturday afternoon. Pav had gone over to Kent with his new ‘shoes’ for his M3 ride, to get them refurbished. He got back at 12.34 exactly (according to his portable satellite navigation system, which is accurate to within minutes, apparently!) In any case, I rushed over there, looking forward to installing the amp and for a change getting my hands dirty. Things did not look good from the outset, taking out my head unit, we realised I needed a pre amp cable adapter to connect the head unit to the amp. Calling a few local car audio specialists, we had little joy. Even a trip down into Caversham, to Mar Parts proved unfruitful. It was a Blaunkpunt specialist part and would only be available to order from authorised blue spot dealers. However, not to give up so soon, there were two more ICE resellers in the Berkshire town to try. Pav firstly rang 118118, but they proved next to useless. The woman on the phone could hardly speak English and my college friend had to spell out the name of the county! We then tried 118500 and instantly got the text message with the number we were looking for. This was to be the first bombshell of the weekend, no joy. I would have to order the cable online and then come back to carry out the installation another time. Even though at first, I was hoping to wire up the amp in situation and just plug in the cable at the back of the head unit when the lead arrived. Seeking professional advice from a man that carries out in car entertainment installations everyday of his working life, we decided upon the following course of action. When the lead arrives, I take it over to a leading high street store and get the job done professionally. So, was it a wasted journey? Surely not, as Pav borrowed my Mini DV camcorder to record some family video onto this laptop. The audio can wait, your first Christmas with your nephew is priceless.

We all deal with defeat in different ways. I tend to (as much as possible) switch off. This tends to become very difficult when you spend such a vast number of hours online and connected, but I tend to get grumpy. I will spend no time on reflecting on the poor performance, there are other blogs out there much more capable. Instead let me describe my day and the build up, the anti-climax and the fear of going into work tomorrow.

If Sky had their way, every live game screened would be the next big title decider. While, I will give them credit for the lack of hype surrounding this fixture as in the past. I woke up around 9am, and tried to occupy myself to take my mind of things. First thing was to head off into the cold winter morning and check my car over and then give it a wash down the local jet wash. As expected the jet wash was frozen and out of order. I headed over to the car wash at a nearby Total petrol station (which coincidentally had no fuel!) to have a car wash. Thankfully a VW Passat was ahead of me in the queue. The driver was having a horrible time, firstly trying to get into the carwash (ice outside) and then actually get the device to work. As I paid for my car wash ticket, he came in and asked the assistance for help. Sure enough, the car wash was iced up and while trying to operate was not pushing out any water. The attendant attempt to reset the device a few times, but just left this middle aged man sitting in his car driving back and forth (a few yards) in hope it would start up. By this time I had had enough, particularly when a member of the public came up and asked me if I worked here. Please. I drove home for some breakfast. Thankfully my ticket is valid for seven days, so I can come back when the weather is slightly warmer.

Going out in the 307, I happened to have an hour spare so headed over to South Harrow to a dedicated wash centre. Basically a converted Total petrol station, which now has two jet wash stations and vacuums in place of petrol pumps. The car was in a state, but what do you expect with my mother driving. Going into to pay for my two tickets, I was shocked to discover the attendant lying back on his chair, fast asleep. Didn’t really want to disturb his beauty sleep. I gave the car, a quick clean but not to my satisfactory high standard and then checked the tyre pressures and to my surprises they were all dead on the right pressure. Then I joined the queue for the jet wash, at around 2.30pm, an hour before the Super Sunday programme started on Sky Sports One. There was three cars ahead of me, but thankfully two wash bays. An Asian man, with flowing long hair, was doing a dedicated job on his 53 plate Honda Accord. He had a chamois leather drooping out of his back pocket. He spent at least fifteen minutes cleaning the car and then a further twenty drying (thankfully away from the wash bay). I did not have the luxury of all this time on my hands. I was keen to get in, washed and out as soon as possible. I wanted to be heading back to Wycombe as soon as possible. Unlike the event earlier this morning, there was little chance of me trekking back down the A40 to South Harrow. By 3pm, my turn finally arrived and I must say I am impressed with this new, service code driven system. Basically you enter the code you have purchased and the time begins counting down. You can then select a variety of options for as long as your time will allow. For those of you unfamiliar with the use of a standard jet wash. You usually buy credit in the form of time. However, the programme will run through a standard cycle and you would always be rushing to brush the entire vehicle before the bell would sound and you have to apply the wax. In any case, the job was done, the car was much cleaner than when I arrived and I rushed back to collect my Mum and sister from Hillington and head home.

When the final whistle went I wondered how I could occupy my time for the rest of the evening. I rang, Chris, just to pre-empt his rude text message (which for the record never arrived!). In the end, I opted to load up my RnB play list in Win Amp, put the volume up and head for a long shower to forget about things. Just as I came out of the shower, I looked at my mobile. Sure enough there was a text message and I knew who it was from. Instead of his usual, ‘That’s why we’re Champions!’, I was greeted with a comment I had already had in person in the office. ‘I’ve got my binoculars out and still can’t see you!’. Already, I have the picture of their smug face, with Chelsea mug in hand for Monday morning. Perhaps the first time that I do not want to go into work. Particularly those non-football fans in the office, that just laugh to make you feel worse! For a change I’ll be keeping the conversation on helpdesk queries rather than work. Thank God that we don’t have any big boss that supports Man Utd in the office. Just a couple of Liverpool fans that will be just as bitter at our defeat. My plan for the rest of the evening? Watch a movie about erasing the memory. Such a shame we are a good few years of bringing that to reality. I would ask for 17th and 18th December 2005 to be erased from mine!

Friday 4th November 2005

Winter nights, for as long as I can remember have meant European football on the TV and eating ice cream. Rather a strange combination, I admit but it has become part of the football fortnight in my household. Champions League is the elite club competition in the world, with some of the greatest players in the world, taking part in the most exciting knock out competition ever seen. Both Tuesday and Wednesday night saw mixed fortunes for English clubs in the competition. I, of course was only interested in the mighty Arsenal, hoping to keep alive their 100% record in the competition and book our place into the last 16. From the kick off, you knew the night belonged to the Gooners. Even if at times, there were some nervous moments. Particularly in the second half. Yet, Henry and Van Persie (what else does this youngster need to do to get a start?) got the goals in a professional workman like performance. Reyes looked lively out on the left and was back to his best. Hopefully he will be able gain in confident, with a decent run out in his favoured position. Hopefully the next few EPL games (I’ve been speaking to Daniel too often to start using his English Premier League abbreviation) will see an improved run of our form (particularly on the road) as we begin to make up some ground on Chelsea.

Yesterday was a good day for me. Thursdays tend to go either way. Sometimes they are dull, boring, hectic and uncomfortable and you long for the moment to get into the car and drive home. Yesterday was different, I took the day by the scruff of the neck and get things done. There is always something satisfying to achieve your goals, no matter how little. In my dreams I live the life of someone else. The sun always shines and the sky is bright blue. Then, when I wake up I find myself sitting in my car, in traffic, heading for another day in the office. The only reminder of my daydream, is the pure pop playing on the stereo. What I must learn to do is not tempt fate. Even during my good moods (which are few and far between) I must keep focus on the things that really matter.

It takes a blog (of all things) to capture the mood of the nation. The return of the Mitchell Brothers was minor news in my household, as we are hardcore Eastenders fans. Yet, sometimes you wonder how reality mimics art, away from the spotlight of Albert Square. Is this purely extra publicity for the show, or are the successful women behind hard men, coming back to do some harm? People constantly wonder why I am glued to this soap and why I have been this way for several years. Sure, I would agree that some of the storylines have not been gripping over the past few years, but that is not the reason I watch. There are actually two reasons I watch (both kindly interconnected). Firstly the whole soap puts my own life into relief. Things are never as bad for me as they are over in Walford. Secondly, I enjoy watching losers (or as Stacey Slater put it this week, ‘waster’) such as Gary Hobbs and Ian Beale. They are highly entertaining and such a joke. Then you realise that they do truly exist and at times, may feature in your own life.

Sunday 16th October 2005

We all hate losing. I have said that on numerous occasions (particularly last season). With Chelsea seemingly running away with the title, it makes for a very depressing weekend. Having been to see Arsenal play only a few weeks ago, I know that they have not been playing up to their high standards. Injuries aside, we expect much better from our team. We dominated possession against West Brom, but came up against a keep in great form and a team on the way back up. Arseblogger perhaps sums up the feeling from the terraces best. Thankfully, the next game is not to far away and gives the team an opportunity to prove themselves. Champions League Tuesday. We need to start scoring some goals and members of the squad need to start making a real name for themselves. Thankfully, you are only as good as your last 90 minutes, but the next 90 come around again, quite quickly.

Went to see the first feature length adventure of Wallace and Gromit at the Odeon in Uxbridge, last night. Great quality family fun. Always been a fan of the crackpot inventor and his k9 sidekick. I really enjoyed Chicken Run, which was again very unique. This story is perhaps there most daring to date and the new characters add to the suspense of the tale. Particularly, PC Mackintosh voiced by a well known comedian from Bolton. Well worth going to see, particularly if you have young siblings.

Have you seen the latest advert from HP for their standalone photo printer? It was shown at the cinema last night so I thought I would mention it here. You can’t have missed it, as it has been played on television quite regularly. As I don’t watch that much commercial driven television, I have seen it, so am quite confident that you have seen it too. For a gentle reminder, it can been seen over at Visit4Info. The music for the advert is ‘Out Of The Picture’ by The Robins, which I was finally able to obtain last night. The commercial, is very clever. Just a shame, that How Do They Do That? is no longer on the BBC to reveal how it is all done.

Sunday 7th August 2005

Today was the day. I suppose I had waited for this day all my life. Sure I’ve attended other football matches, a European Championship Group match and an international friendly, featuring the mighty Brazil. Yet, this topped them all. Why? Perhaps because I was forfilling a life long childhood dream. Going to a final (of questionable sorts) with my Dad. My Dad is not the biggest football fan, but he does try and for this he deserves great credit. When I got offered these tickets, there was little doubt in my mind, on who I would be taking along. Going somewhere new and explored also added a sense of intrigued to this adventure.

I crawled out of bed just after 6am, on a Sunday morning, this was early. Suddenly it dawn on me the full prospect of the day, yet I had little time to reflect on this moment. I had things to do. Rushing upstairs, I went to wake up my Dad. Then, I quickly had some cereal, constantly watching the clock, to make sure we left the house as early as humanly possible. After a quick shower, I was surprised by the lack of noise and movement from my Dad’s room, so went to his room, to wake him up again. Talk about role reversal, it should be the parent dragging the child out of bed! Thankfully we left the house at 7.20am and were on the M4 by 7.30am. Already the signs were there of a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly, across a clear bright blue sky. Magical. An Escort drove past, with Arsenal flags waving in the air, from both rear windows. I tried my best to catch up and just flash my headlights at them, but they were in a hurry and I did not have the patience for the chase. Driving at a steady, 70 miles an hour, I was listening to Spoony on BBC Radio One. My Dad had drifted off to sleep, leaving me to concentrate on the road and take in the picturesque views of this green and pleasant land. Being a town boy, I think I have come to lack an appreciation for the countryside. It is only when you are out on the road that you truly understand that this country is rural.

This has to be one of best drives, ever. The traffic was light, the views were breathtaking and at the end of the road, was a dream. Watching my team play football for the first time in six years. There was the waving and thumbs up, given to other Arsenal fans. There was the sneering glances exchanged with Chelsea fans, most of whom appeared to be driving nearly new BMW. Perhaps the big man, is spreading some of his wealth far and wide in the football club. This was to be my first time in Cardiff, although not my first time across the border to Wales. While I am sure many people have their views on this country, I think it is beautiful.

As we approached the border, we took the Severn Bridge, which has a toll charge of £4.80 for cars. Thankfully I had some cash on me (rare for me, as I’m predominately a card person these days!) I was hoping my Dad would have taken some photos, but he was sound asleep and while I would have managed a quick snap with my phone camera, it would have done little justice to the view. After the bridge, we were in Welsh country. Noticeable by the dual language signage. We were making excellent time and I was glad that we had, correction, I had taken the decision to leave at such an ungodly hour. We pulled into the Arsenal Park & Ride car park, just before 9.30am, and had a prime spot. All this for £5, not bad! As we got out of the car, my body came to the sudden shock that it had driven around 140 miles, none stop. Looking at the clock on my mobile (I had left my watch back home for obvious reasons) I commented to my Dad how we had made perfect time. Getting onto the bus, we were shocked at how close the city centre was, from the school we had just parked at. In the distance, I could see the towering arches of the stadium. We had arrived.

A handful of other fans had followed our lead, to get here early. As we walked down the main shopping street. Merchandise sellers were selecting prime slots for their stalls. The shops were closed and most would not open until 11am. We needed a quick light breakfast. While I was looking for a local café, nothing suitable was available or open. So, there was no option, we walked back to the bigger Star Bucks. While I could go into detail about chasing the corporate, or should that be corporate pound, I will refrain. This sort of discussion is more suited to the politically motivated blogs, such as Xercs. Unlike my Dad, a coffee drinker, I just had a medium cup of Earl Grey Tea. While my Dad opted for a jazzy named, wake me up potion, under the banner of some wild bean cappuccino. I was not really that hungry, but opted for an Apple & Cinnamon muffin, while my Dad had some carrot cake. Sitting outside, we planned what we were to do with our day. Taking charge, I proposed the following. A walk across to the stadium, to find our Gate. Then, a quick ride on the sightseeing tour bus, then lunch, then a few drinks in the pub before the big kick off.

We had seen the sight seeing open tour bus, parked up next to the castle, but thought nothing of it at the time. We were too busy trying to track down the stadium entrance. It was later in the morning, when we realised that we had so much time to ourselves that my Dad insisted we pop on the bus for a ride. There was no other way were going to see the sights of this great city. On foot our options were limited, and the heavy police presence meant we were under constant close scrutiny and for good reason. We headed onto the top deck of the bus and like a school kid, my Dad headed right to the back. We sat on the right hand side, as a Arsenal fan ahead of us commented that Chelsea fans were sitting on the other side, to the left!

You all know how I loved the return of Dr. Who to our television screens this spring.(Oh how I miss the Time Lord on Saturday evenings!) So my trip to Cardiff was also a minor pilgrimage. The episode Boom Town was filmed entirely on location in Cardiff. With the TARDIS arriving, outside the majestic Millennium Centre. This is sight that can only be given true justice by being seen in real life. My photographs do little to capture the power of the building and the beautiful inscription, in both English and Welsh.

Cardiff is beautiful, and it is amazing to learn that the bay has been completely redeveloped from derelict marsh land, to a buzzing residential, business and entertainment centre, in recent years. So much so, that one acre of land sold for £2 million recently, in a plan to build luxury flats. As we drove across this part of time, we came up to one of two five star hotels in the city. Chelsea were using this as their base for the afternoon game. In the car park, there was a shiny silver Mercedes, with the number plate 2 ROW. No idea to whom it may belong, if you have any ideas, please let me know.

It is only in the past eight months that I have been exposed to such a cocktail of people. The nature of the job means, on a daily basis I speak to representatives from Ireland, Scotland, all across England and last but not least Wales. There are a few clients whom I have got to know well, and you pick up their “talking” style. For the Welsh, it is the customary, ‘is it’, which they seem to add to the end of every sentence, that deserves a question. Funnily enough, after our sightseeing tour of the city, my Dad and I had earned quite an appetite. We hunted around for a nice eating establishment to have a drink, and quick bite to eat. In the end, we strolled into a quite bar towards the back of the main street of bars and pubs. It was quite, with only a handful of fans in. As I walked in, I was stopped in my tracks by the doorman. My camera case had come to his attention and he asked to take a look inside. I had no problem with this, but he took the time to look me in the eye and explain, that in the current climate it was a necessary precaution. I understood, and opened my bag, to reveal my digital camera. We went upstairs and found a seat and ordered our food.

After lunch, we headed for the bar that my colleague at work had recommended. The Albert had now become the Yard. I called him and explained where we were. In the end, we gave up waiting, got a drink, while we soaked up the beautiful summer shine in the courtyard at the back of the bar. A large contingent of Chelsea fans had gathered. They must have been drinking for some time, for they had become quite animated, yet the atmosphere was quite friendly. A handful of diehard fans, started chanting various songs, to get themselves and the rest of us into the mood. It was approaching 3pm fast and we had to get a move on now.

The moment we had been waiting for, as we came across to Gate 7, I quickly purchased a programme and then followed my Dad to the stalls. My bag was searched again, but that was to be excepted. There were quite a few fans still making their way to their seats, but I presumed that most of the Chelsea contingent, had already taken their seats. As we stepped out into the stadium, I was amazed by the view and the atmosphere. Words can never truly describe what my eyes could see, and what my ears could hear. Taking our seats, just in time to watch the teams to come out. When we stood up to sing our national anthem, I felt a great sense of pride, if what somewhat misplaced. Here were are, the English singing our song, in the backyard of our Welsh cousins. As my players, took the FIFA handshake of friendship, my Dad offered his to shake my hand, in the deepest grated, for asking him along to share in this day. He was proud of me and for a split second, among those 58 thousand people, I felt like I should give my Dad a hug. Instead, there was no time for such father son bonding. The kick off was seconds away and the moment, the spilt second we had waited for, the referee blew his whistle and the football, all 90 minutes was slowly ticking away.

Prior to the match, I was confident of an Arsenal victory. Perhaps even by the margin of two goals. From what I had seen of the team in pre-season, they looked like they were slowly getting their game together. Looking like a team difficult to beat, and deadly on the counter attack. Chelsea fans now seem to have an arrogance, which leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The chants, which over the course of the match, became accustom to included, “Your Not Champions Any More!!” For them, it was going to script. Drogba scored within 8 minutes, which caught us on the back foot. Our end erupted the moment, took the ball, controlled the ball and smashed the ball passed Lenhamm. They deserved the lead, but I knew Arsenal had the character to return. Following the goal, Arsenal finally woke up, that while this game did not matter, pride was at stake. An early defeat to Chelsea would put us on the back foot for the visit to Stamford Bridge, in two weeks time. We pressured, but Chelsea were alert to all our attacking ideas. If I am honest, we did not having anything new to offer. It was at half time, with three substitutions that the Arsenal of old came back onto the field. Gilberto, providing the solid rock ahead our defence, and Hleb, on for his home debut (well as close as we can get) who was now able to pull the strings in midfield and pass the ball over to Reyes over on the weeks. We looked like a more exciting attacking force, with much more potential up front. Yet, our eagerness to push forward left us exposed at the back. Watching Didier score his second, was amazing. He looked like he had completely hashed it, as we pushed back in numbers to defend the goal mouth. Yet, he was still able to control the ball and place it into the net. Sometimes, you have to whole up your hands to talent. That was a quality goal, taken with skill and ability. As the saying goes, a great striker always keeps his composure in front of goal. Perhaps this is the second chance, he was hoping for. Let us hope that this is not the sign of things to come.

Then, after a spell of heavy pressure, Arsenal put together some moves that are so easy on the eye and we found the back of the net. A rather scrappy goal, but they all count. Our end of the ground fell silent and my Dad and I just looked at each other with a knowing smile. Looking across the pitch, we saw the thousands of Arsenal fans in red, yellow, blue and white cheering! It was a great sight, even if I wish I could have been over on that side of the stadium. We were back in the game, but did we have enough to push for an equaliser. There were doubts in my mind. We did not appear like the well old machine, whereas Chelsea seemed gelled, even with some many new players on display. The Blues seem ready for the season ahead, whereas we looked still tired, trying to get our games together. Never mind, this is just an over glorified pre-season friendly. The real football starts next weekend.

After the game, there was the next hurdle. The journey home. We got out as quickly as possible, opting not to wait for the shield presentation. We caught the second bus back to the car park and got into our cat at 5.30pm, pulling out of the school, I estimated with my Dad that we would be back in Wycombe by 8.30pm. Three hours, was an over estimate. The traffic heading back was heavy. Stop start. Yet, I had BBC Radio One to keep me company all the way home. My Dad drifted off to sleep again. I couldn’t blame him, it had been a long tiring day. We scrolled off the M4 at 9pm and did not get home until 10pm. My Dad insisting we stop for a takeaway, to take home. Overall, the perfect weekend. Sure, the score was not what I had wanted, but everything else fell perfectly into place. The weather was great, a warm hot summer’s day, a friendly atmosphere, with both rival fans on quite jovial terms, knowing this was more an exhibition match than anything else. My memory from the day, will be driving on the M4, past a car of Arsenal fans, and young guy around 16 in the back of the car, shaking his Arsenal scarf at me and giving a fist up for our team. I returned a knowing nod. We were down but not out! Let me end with my own twist on the phrase, enscribed on the Millennium Centre. In These Bones, Horizons Win.

Monday 13th December 2004

It was billed as Judgment Day and it did not disappoint. A result for Rupert and the boys if nobody else. Let us focus for a few minutes on the trails. Pinning Mr. Wenger and Mr. Mourinho against each other as time travelling killing machines. My Dad hates all theses trails, across the digital broadcaster and not just for the big sports clashes. He would prefer his subscription money to be spent on purely programming and for the monthly installment be better value for money. For me, however, the trails, spots, are what makes watching Sky so special. Sky Movies did lead the way until a few years ago, until the movie package was restructured for a purely numbered approach, which of course does not work. Give me Sky Movie Max and Premiere any day. The masters in the editing sweet had worked over time for the Sunday afternoon London derby though. Using the theme music from the fantastic sequel with images of the all star cast for this epic encounter. There is always the possibility that the final spectacle can never live up to expectations. Just look at the battle of the buffet. (Proves that the match was so important that the off the field antics take precedent over the football). For once, the perfect atmosphere was created, placing me on the edge of my sofa, and the hair standing on the back of my neck, as they teams came out on that cold winter afternoon. The scene was set and within minutes, the key battle would commence. Personally I am glad the broadcasters still show such enthusiasm for what can only be regarded as extravagant marketing. Then again this is coming from a guy, who has always watched the intro sequences for all the games I love and actually live for them.

The game itself was played at lightning pace, and my nerves were settled early by Henry. Overall, I agree that this was a game we should have won. Of course draw is better than defeat but to be leading twice and then surrender your lead in such foolish ways is unthinkable. Arsenal were the masters of defending set-pieces. We just seem to be lacking concentration at the back and teams will exploit this unless we improve.

What I tend to do, as the end of the year draws near is to look back at my entries from a year ago. It was not exactly all songs in the street but the capture of Saddam was a big turning point in the struggle for Iraq. A year on there is still much work to be done, and with elections around the corner, will true democracy empower the people? This is not for me to discuss such worldly life changing issues on this blog of shameless self promotion. More suited to the likes of Xercs and Healing Iraq. Leave it in your very capable hands, guys.

Purchased my Christmas Cards, on Sunday at Clinton Cards as has now become an annual tradition. I have stopped making long exhaustive lists on Excel and tend to work from memory now. Each year for some reason the number of cards I both send and receive has been diminishing. Even I am not sending out such examples of egoist eccentricity With all the new technology and ways of communicating, it is surprising that the traditional Christmas card has lasted this long. Perhaps that is an naive statement, as there will always be people who want to send ‘seasons greetings’ on paper rather than electronically. I agree with sending the odd Christmas e-card, but anything via SMS represents shortsightedness on behalf of the sender at least. With or without royal approval.

Talking of progress. Why are we so slow to taking up new technology here in the UK? At least there are hints of upcoming HD TV broadcasting. Japan leads the digital revolution and it is amazing to discover they have had high definition television has early as 1991. There is demand for a service which promises images that are six times sharper than current broadcasting levels. The truth is out there and being blogged. Then on the horizon is the next battleground. Just when you have finally completed replacing your VHS collection onto DVD and disposed of the ancient VCR. (How 1980s does VCR sound today?)

The rest of this week is just going to be a build to Thursday. I should make more use of my new blog and write something.

Monday 16th February 2004

Back in Leicester, after a weekend at home. As always, time at home is extremely hectic, and before I know where I am, the time has drifted by and the East Midlands beckons once more. Another week at Uni begins and with it, the expectation and realisation that this is the final hurdle. A phrase which echoes in my mind, whenever I head to campus. Not long now, I know, as I draw closer to the finish line with every passing day.

Arsenal were in FA Cup action on Sunday lunchtime. I was eagerly anticipating the 5th Round tie. I recall coming back on Saturday 8th March, from Leicester to the catch the last dramatic encounter between the London clubs in this cup competition. If that match had anything to go by, I was in for an entertaining game of football. However, I was disheartened to hear that Henry was out of the game through injury. I knew that this would be a major test for the Gooners. Chelsea, must have thought this was the best opportunity to beat us in four years. The tie was going as scripted, with the Blues scoring towards the end of the first half. I had a feeling though. I had a feeling about our new signing Reyes. He had to deliver at some point and why not the best cup competition in the world. Two amazing goals in the space of five minutes. I would have been happy to go for the reply, but Reyes proved that with time and space he is deadly. What was everyone saying about Arsenal’s over reliance on Henry? I also feel a huge mention of Dennis Bergkamp is necessary. His contribution and vision was inspiring. Admirable to see a player still showing great skill and talent, even at the twilight of their professional career. There were numerous occasions when he split open the Chelsea defence, but unfortunately Arsenal were not able to make the most of the goal scoring opportunity. Not much else to report I am afraid at the moment. Upgrading my hosting this week, so the guest book should be online by Friday or the weekend.

I am breaking with the tradition of my website. Usually, I do mention a site, a webmaster and praise their creative ability. However on this occasion, I’m going
to go once step further and dedicate this blog entry to my dear friend, Kristy. For the rest of the events as they unfold will have a special meaning, only for
her. I hadn’t driven my car since Christmas and was looking forward to getting behind the wheel again. In anticipation for this, I burnt myself an Audio CD for the
first time, since Christmas. There were so many songs that I had been listening to excessively on WinAmp, but creating a track listing wasn’t too difficult. I need to take you back, take you back to the days of my placement. I mention on Wednesday 23rd April, that I had created yet another MP3 CD for the car. This particular collection was called ‘Pure Pop’. Now, I am sure that you are the same as me, when you are listening to a new album. You go straight for the songs that you know and love. Those that have been released as singles and had the most radio play. Very much, like a kid in sweet shop. You go for your favourite sweets, always. After a time, you begin to actually listen to the other tracks on the album. On one occasion, I recall vividly taking such a decision with this MP3 CD. I was going to start at track one, and let the CD cycle through all the tracks. The day I did
this, I was on the M1, heading back from Bedford, after yet another eventful day at work. But work was far from my mind and my thoughts were far from the road ahead. I already had a good collection of favourite songs on this album, beyond the well known singles. I thought there were no more I needed to hear. I was
far from right. As track six faded away, and the noise of the motorway traffic became apparent to me once more, I felt something strange. The feeling was that
of a distant memory. The song started, and music filled my car once more. The arrangement was breathtakingly perfect, every note timed with such grace and poise. Then the vocals began. There was only one person I thought of when I was listening to the song, those feelings came rushing back. “You say you’re sorry for the things That you’ve done To my life”, struck such a cord with me. I know that my time on placement was the best time for me professionally, where I took major leaps and bounds as a person. However, personally, it was the worse phase of my life in recent years, particularly the second half of 2002. Everyone knows that I am a fan of pure pop, and this was pure pop at it’s best. Simple, yet dramatic music that moves the soul. I had been listening to the song again, in recent weeks, not really sure why. The song is still as magnificent as ever, but those feelings, I felt in April are alien to me now. On Saturday, I headed to Bedford and there was only one song I
wanted to hear on my stereo. As I headed onto the motorway, the track came on. While driving my thoughts again drifted, but further afield than before. Across
the Channel to the Netherlands, to Rotterdam, where Kristy lives. I recalled with great accuracy the MSN conversation I had with her, in early January. I had
asked her what songs I should listen. She recommend the aforementioned track. I listened to it again, and the memories came flooding back. I asked if the
song had a video on the band’s DVD album. I was disappointed to hear, that it did not. But then Kristy told me that they performed the song live and the footage
included my favourite member, pumping the air in celebration during the minor bridge in the song. I tried to picture this and smiled. The power of music. Never to be underestimated. The band are of course, Liberty X and the song is, “Everyday”, from their debut album, “Thinking It Over”.

Saturday 8th March 2003

What a weekend! This is turning into what I can only describe as the “perfect” weekend! What a FA Cup game! One of the best football matches I have seen for ages! Arsenal showed what true champions are made of! Going down to a goal, conceded early, the Gooners were able to raise our game and come back into the game. To take the lead was amazing, but of course now, Arsenal did it in style! Henry, taking the ball, with effortless control, racing towards the Chelsea keeper. He then becomes poetry in motion, turning, in such a fashion, to both protect the ball, and leave the goalkeeper stranded! He then tapped the ball with the coolness of a chilled ice cold drink, to calmly place the ball into the back of the net! Breathtaking stuff! The Reds, showing their true class, and in what style! The third goal, never materialized for Arsenal, but the fourth of the game did for Chelsea! After one failed attack to another, the Blues, were able to scrabble a goal into the back of Seaman’s goal! A fair result at the end of the day, I have to say! Less said about the whole penalty appeal, the better!

Do you recall a song called, “Days Like That”, by a British girl group called Fierce? Well, I was watching Smash Hits on a Friday night (28th February), and I recognized the score, but the female voices were different, although the sound created did to a certain extend match the Fierce version of 2000. Then, as I continued to watch the video, I noticed it was a whole new girl group and a crisp sexy musical movie! The band were the Canadian group, Sugar Jones and we can expect more fresh material crossing to our shores from them very soon!

The only other new songs I have noticed on the Sky Digital music channels, are The Bangles (still going strong after all these years!) “Something That You Said” and also Kym Marsh (from the winning ITV Popstars band – Hear’Say) making her debut single release with “Cry”. This easy on the ear, yet powerful ballad, has quite a fresh feeling! But that isn’t to say that its a very original sound, it conjures up memories of a similar composition. Who cares though?! Its great to see someone bouncing back, especially after only hitting the headlines for walking out on the reality TV show group.

Just the regular audio page update! Very busy, and hectic weekend! Try and do more next weekend!

Life is good, life is great. I won’t speak to soon though! I’ll just enjoy the moment as much as I can! :) I made the mistake on Friday, at work, to make the regrettable comment, “Everything is running smoothly today, for a change!” Straight after my lunch break, everything that could possibly fail, did! Server, phone system and internet connection! :)

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