Saturday 7th January 2006

So much to say, where do I begin? Perhaps with the biggest news prior to the weekend. After over a month, perhaps two out of the limelight. Sippy is back! His blog returned on Thursday evening, with two great entries. Several years ago, coming up to three now, if my memory serves me correctly, Sipz did a similar entry, previewing the upcoming movies that summer. I never thought he would be able to surpass that blog entry, but he has. Glad to see him back, let us just hope there is a not, another long wait before the next posting. Keep up the good work. Perhaps I should not include this in my entry, but as we have already paid our licence fee, why not? Sippy recorded and encoded Doctor Who – The Christmas Invasion to Xvid. The location of the file is top secret, but fortunately for me, I was given the password to the protected folder and downloaded the file on Thursday, while at work. The quality is overall impressive for just under an hours worth of footage that has been compressed down to 350mb from over 1 gigabyte.

You may have noticed my new avatar on the right menu. This is brought to you, courtesy of Yahoo! In my opinion they are better and more expressive than the MSN WeeMee. Although I think if you search on Friends Reunited, I have created a weemee but it was a few years ago and I just thought it better than having a blank space where my photograph should be. I would however like to confirm that although you see streaks of blue, my hair is actually black. My aim is try and update the avatar to reflect my mood and style. If you have your own Yahoo! Mail account, you can go and create your own!

Always go to see the big blockbusters at the cinema, as you are well aware. I had been hoping to go to see Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong over Christmas, but with so many other things going on, I was not able to fit it in. So instead, decided to go with my friend on the first Friday of 2006. Usually I chose the venue and book the tickets, but on this rare occasion, I let my friend deal with everything. He opted for a independent cinema on the outskirts of Oxford. I came home on Friday from work, expecting to spend the night on my computer, as I had not heard from my mate. A text message appeared on my phone, could I make it over to his house by 7.30pm, the tickets were booked for an hour later. I rushed around to get ready and head over to Oxfordshire. The OZone multiplex looks over the Kassam Stadium home of Coca Cola League Two struggles, Oxford United. Within the past three months, the cinema has been bought by Vue, so they are in the process of re-branding the picture house. As you enter the cinema, you have to negotiate two escalators which finally take you to the main foyer. Nothing spectacular. For the first time since I went to see Sin City in early June last year, that I would not be buying any popcorn or drinks. (Even though I was starving, due to lack of any dinner!) We got some seats in middle, towards the centre of the screen. I must say the seats were very comfy. Almost as comfy as my executive leather chair at home. All the trailers, featured, I had already seen on my XBox a few weeks ago, so they were rather wasted on me. Then the movie started and my expectations were quite high. Perhaps because I hoped for so much over the next three hours. Jackson is a great movie director and indeed a great story teller. I have not seen the original so cannot unfairly compare the two. On screen the film is amazing and the adventure takes place at great pace. Even with some major plot wholes, the movie stands up. However, it appears more of a homage to the 1933 original than a movie in its own right. Reading through some of the trivia and a quick glance over at Kong Is King dot net. The dialogue in places, leaves much to be desired and the ending, while expected is rather empty. Jackson could have milked this project and spilt the movie into two, so you have the first part on Skull Island and then a sequel based in New York. Universal executives may have heard the tills ringing, but opted for the bigger blockbuster approach and a quick return on all the moment invested. Apparently this is (at the time of commission) the most expensive Hollywood movie ever made. Many of the emotional segments, which are there to pull your heart strings are drawn out far too long and slow down the pace of the movie. In places the violence is graphic, particularly when Kong takes on Tyrannosaurus and the scene when the band of rescues are attached by a strange, mutant like group of creatures. As a general rule I am not too squeamish, but these scenes were distressing in their very nature. In conclusion, a film worth seeing on the big screen, for enjoyably evening entertainment. Just do not expect any rocket science. It does exactly what it says on the tin. New Improved Formula.

I work up late, particularly taking into account that I had to be at Highbury before midday for the third round FA Cup tie against Cardiff. Several times in the morning, my weary eyes glanced at the clock on my stereo. First 8am, then 8.40am, then 9am, then nearly 9.30am, I should really get up. The reason for my tiredness was when I got back from my friend’s house at 1.30am, the first thing I did was go online. The BBC News web site, had the breaking news, Henry stays. Fantastic news and the most important for the future of my football club. Earlier in the week a colleague at work had made the passing comment, or rather observation that he was not a Liverpool supporter but a Liverpool fan. The difference being he did not spend his hard earned cash on the club. Therefore the distinction comes from the financial support. This got me thinking, when did I make the transition from fan to supporter. I suppose it was in mid May when I finally signed up for Arsenal membership. I remember reading in the October programme when Henry took the decision to wait until the end of the season.

Looking outside, I was surprised to see it snowing. It was not heavy snow, but some slush and ice and settled down on the garden. Dragging myself out of bed just before 10am, I rushed around to get some breakfast, jump in the shower and head to the car. I had to drop off my suit at the dry cleaners in ASDA shopping centre, so was rushing around. The attendant wanted to sell me some priority club membership, but I just didn’t have time. I then ran back to my car and looked at the clock as I started the engine, it was 11am. Two hours until kick off. I sped down to the train station and parked up. The station itself is closed and porta cabins have been installed outside the main entrance. I went to the Fast Ticket machine to buy my one day travel card. Then walking to where the barriers used to be my ticket was checked my an inspector. The electronic boards were also off, due to the fire in early December. So a print out of departure times, destinations and platforms had been printed out and placed on a railing. My train called in within the next few minutes at 1118. Getting on the train, I wondered how long it would take to get to London Marylebone. Depending on what service I had got on, it could take over an hour, and then at least forty minutes before I get to Highbury. Thankfully as we pulled up to Gerrards Cross the driver informed us that the next stop would be Marylebone only. I punched the air in joy (and perhaps at with curious looks from the other passengers!) Result. I would get into London before 12pm and therefore have plenty of time (even factoring in tube delays) to make it to Islington. By the time I got onto the Piccadilly Line train heading north, there were a good group of fellow Arsenal supporters around me. Although no Cardiff fans to be seen, whatsoever. As we pulled up towards the Arsenal station, I considering waiting for the next stop at Finsbury Park and walking down from there. I had done this in late November last year, when going to the Reading game with my colleague. Considering I was late, I opted to get off here and make my way to the stadium. As usual, I bought a programme outside the ground and then headed for the North Bank. As I entered, some spotty seventeen year old with ginger hair, offered me a free Arsenal cap. I turned him down, which he must have been surprised, if not shocked by. The concourse was packed out with fans drinking, eating and just chatting before the game. I looked up at the clock and it was 12:36, not long left until the kick off.

Heading up stairs to the upper block, I discovered that my seat was not to far away from where I was sitting for the Premiership match against Birmingham in October. It was right at the end of the row, which meant constantly getting up if anyone came to sit down or leave. Apart from that minor issue, the view was very good, if not slightly better than before. The middle aged gentleman who sat next to me, arrived late, just as the teams were preparing to kick off. Quite friendly, he asked me who was in the lineup and discussed the great news from last night. I will spare the review of the match. Everyone knows the score (by now) and apart from an idiot invading the pitch in injury time. I enjoyed the afternoon, even if I had predicted a three nil score line and perhaps a more committed performance, knowing our long term history (or should that be love affair) with the FA Cup. The guy who had been sitting next to me for the first half, never returned for the second, which was a surprise. Perhaps he had seen enough in the first half that he thought the final forty five minutes would not matter. The Cardiff fans, were overall in buoyant mood and highly vocal and apart from the pitch invader and a few ejections for bad unsporting behaviour, they were quite hospitable. Bring on the next opponents.

After the match, I headed into Central to firstly get some food. I had not eaten anything since breakfast and my tummy was rumbling. From Finsbury Park I headed to Leicester Square. Some Cardiff fans got on at Arsenal. They were quite chuffed that it had not turned out to be a embarrassing cricket score line and of course, scoring at Highbury against the Gunners. Thankfully at Kings Cross, most of them got off to catch their trains back to Wales, so I didn’t have to put up with anymore talk of the Highbury Library. My search of food, took me deep into Leicester Square. In the end I opted for a quick bite to eat at the fast food chain, rather than a big sit down meal at one of the many restaurants. Then it was the start of my shopping trip. Originally I was going to head only down Oxford Street. A voice in my head was telling me that I will find what I want at Selfridges and no where else. Having already looked around in Nottingham on Monday, I came to London with much more optimism. My search took me across various shops down Oxford Street, but also Regent Street, to some of the more exclusive designer outlets. Though, no joy whatsoever. Guys go shopping completely differently from girls. Girls have a vague (sometimes very vague) idea of what they are looking for. Let me for examples sake, so shoes. However, they may get distracted by a top, trousers, a dress and perfume. Where as guys, will go and get what they wanted to get and not be side tracked by other offers. If you disagree with this statement, I am sure you will leave a comment. In any case, after checking out the smaller branded stores, I headed for the big department stores. Debenhams. Then John Lewis. Finally I got to Selfridges and headed upstairs to the menswear department. It was busy, but Oxford Street was bustling too, so it was to be expected. I looked around at what remained of the sale items. There was nothing that caught my eye or my size for that matter. Eventually I walked all the way around the suit area and stumbled upon the PS collection. There it was, the suit I wanted. Yet, I was not convinced and went to look around at a few other suits before coming back. I was served by Marcus, a Liverpool fan. So you can imagine, he was disgusted by both my Arsenal top and the question, “You support Chelsea?” to which he replied, “Don’t be silly”. After finding the suit jacket in my size (38) I tried it on and it was a perfect fit. Exactly what I had been looking for. I paid and arranged collection for Tuesday afternoon. As luck would have it, I would be in London at a client site on Monday and Tuesday and would not be making a special journey. I love it when a plan comes together. I walked back to Marylebone, which brought back memories from the tube strike in July 2004. That morning I had walked from Marylebone to the office in New Bridge Street and back in the afternoon. I could have caught a bus, but walking was quicker and easier, plus the exercise does me good! When I got to station concourse, the time was 18.30 and I just missed a train heading for Wycombe. Never mind. More time for me to order a hot chocolate (as it I did religiously every Friday) and sit down and rest my exhausted legs. Fifteen minutes, later I was on my train home. Great.

As I drove home from the station, I try to think of other weekends that could come close to matching this one? Perhaps March, 8th to be exact. Although I am sure there have been more recent weekends worth mentioning, that cannot come to mind. When I got in, and sat down on the sofa, my Dad said, “I’ve bought your doughnuts!”. Sure enough, on the kitchen table were two boxes of Krispy Kremes. What a way to end a Saturday! Cup of tea and your favourite doughnuts. Heaven can wait, if there are to more weekends like this in 2006. Was this a perfect day? For some reason I had a great urge to listen to the song by Hoku? For the lyrics? Due to legal implications of publishing this on my blog, you’ll have to either Google It! Or search the archives for 11th June 2004.

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