Friday, October 21, 2011

Death of a Despot... but do we really need to see it?

The world is rejoicing the death of a despot - or  is it just that they now have a better chance of getting their hands on Libyan oil - but is is really necessary to show his dead body on TV and before the watershed to boot.

Yes, he was clearly an evil or possibly just a deranged man but it doesn't make me feel any better to see him with a bullet hole in his head.  I'm not sure I even really wanted to see him begging for his life when he was captured. What can be gained from this?

I know some people argue that we need proof of death to escape the rumour and conjecture that, say, surrounded the death of Hitler, with conspiracy theorists arguing for years after 'that Berlin bunker' that he was alive and living in South America/Darkest Africa/Mars and I know that this isn't necessarily something new with pictures of dead despots going back as far as Mussolini probably further, but surely the 'proof' only needs to be shown to heads of state, not the general public. The same media that blames, loudly and often, violent video games for a rise in real-life violence, seems not to show the same calls for restraint when it comes to seeing real-life death played out through their own broadcasts or newspapers. The photos on the Daily Mirror website were particularly disgusting, showing Gaddafi's bloodied body, bullet wounds very evident, laid out in Misrata.

I found the death of Osama bin Laden, played out like some sort of freakish reality show for the US government with cameras on hand to witness their every 'oooh', 'aaaahh' and 'boy that had to hurt' to be slightly distasteful but it does beg the question, where will voyeuristic television take us next? Helmetcam? Bulletcam?Executioner's Chaircam?

To be honest, I find 'The Only Way is Essex' pushes the boundaries of what is decent and acceptable quite far enough, but dead dictators. No thanks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Rugby World Cup Zola Budd - You play for WHICH team?' Award

In rugby, as in many other sports, players for national teams may have a fairly tenuous link to their adopted country. Readers of my age will remember the Zola Budd debacle, when the barefoot South African teenager was fast tracked to a British passport so she could compete for Great Britain in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. As with so many schemes masterminded by The Daily Mail (yes, causing trouble even in those days) it was a disaster and after tripping and taking out America's Darling, Mary Decker, she scuttled off back to South Africa which was, really, her home.  Her British passport has probably only been useful for jumping the immigration queues at Gatwick. So here are my nominations for the players who really sound like they should be playing for another team.

1.  Making his second appearance in my RWC awards is Toby Faletau who plays for ....... Wales

2.  Then just to confuse you, Simon Danielli

3.... and Nick de Luca

...... play for Scotland

4.  While Luke McClean who sounds like he should play for Scotland......

..... actually plays for Italy (and was born in Australia)

5.  Adam Byrnes sounds like he should play for Ireland but.....

..... he plays for Russia. (Although he made his name playing in Ireland and Australia, he declared for Russia on the grounds that his maternal grandmother is Russian)

6.  Does Paul Williams play for Wales?  No....

..... he plays for Samoa. (His father is an ex-All Black and his brother plays for Clermont in France but after a successful career in New Zealand he declared himself for Samoa internationally)

7.  Shaun Webb

8.  James Arlidge

9.  And Luke Thompson

.... sound like they should play for England but they actually play for ...... Japan! As do Michael Veitch, Bryce Robins and Ryan Nicholas.  Both Luke Thompson and Shaun Webb got Japanese citizenship on residency grounds a mere month before the start of the World Cup.. and there's me thinking that their great grannies were Japanese!

10.  And finally, at Number 10, everybody's favourite Man Overboard, Manu Tuilagi, who could play for Samoa ....

...... but, as most of us know, Manu plays for England. His is probably one of the most tenuous links to the nationality of the country he plays for as he was, until last year, an illegal immigrant. But hey, if you're an illegal with a talent, who cares?  Not the UK government it would appear.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Rugby World Cup Donald Trump Bad Hair Award

I had intended to post this last weekend but the shock exit of  England against a French team that, the week before would have struggled in an under 8s tag team, has left me a bit flat. But never mind, this is rugby. We have to man up and support the French Welsh French oh, who bloody cares.

But as a bit of light relief from the excitement and pressure of the semi-finals , I am giving you my nominations for the very special 'Donald Trump Bad Hair' award.

In no particular order.....

1. M'a Nonu - The All Blacks

Looking bizarrely as if he's dreadlocked his ear hair, M'a is more NoNo than Nonu

2.  Berrick Barnes

Staying downunder, my next nominee is Jedward-in-Training Berrick Barnes. (How long is that man's neck?)

3.  Zane Kirchner - Bokke

Zane is shocked to discover just how daft his hair is....

4.  Jerry Flannery - Ireland

Hailing from the West of Ireland, a place we all love. It's just like England 40 years ago.... .including the hair styles apparently

5.   Toby Faletau  - Wales

Toby from Tonga (that well known suburb of Cardiff) loves his big hair. Not sure I do though

6.  Martin Castrogiovanni - Italy

Very nearly a contender for the Facial Hair of Shame award, no bad hair award would be complete without the hirsute Mr Castrogiovanni's barnet, which would only be collar length if he actually had a neck

7.  Eric Fry - USA

Just when you thought the Bobby Charlton comb-over was dead and gone, along comes Eric to bring it to the next generation

8.  Ippei Asada - Japan

Poor Ippei looks as if his hair has been stuck on as an afterthought, or possibly cut out of a magazine and popped on a photo of him

9.  Census Johnston - Samoa

The South Seas Island teams provided rich pickings for the bad hair awards but one of my favourites is Census Johnston - and what a faaabulous name too! It might have looked OK on Michael Bolton in the 19802 but come on Census, this is the 21st Century

10.  Andrey Garbuzov - Russia

Showing off the Boris Karloff look to it's greatest effect, Andrey is something of a trend setter in Krasnoyarsk. (That's in Siberia in case you were wondering)

So, who get's you vote?

PS. Dear IRB, it's me again, using you photos without permission. Just a little reminder that my penalty is to have the All Blacks go a Haka in my lounge. Don't forget now......... please

Thursday, October 6, 2011

EDF.. Extemely Dimwitted Fools!

People often say to me 'Oh, you must miss living in France'. Well I don't.  The cheap wine and summer sunshine was never quite enough to make up for hair-wrenching frustration that is dealing with just about any French company or institution.  Their job application forms must surely have a box to tick whereby you have to confirm that you will never, at any time, show any ability towards independent thought and joined up thinking.

Take EDF for example. I'm trying to change the electricity account at our house in France back into my own name. There appears to be no number to call from outside France so I've tried to do it online.

I typed in my name and address. It wouldn't accept my postcode because French postcodes only have numbers but I've got round that in the past by putting in a line of zeros then adding the postcode to one of the fields that allows numbers and letters. No problem.

I put in the address of the property. No problem there. I even managed to find the Point de Livraison which is absolutely vital to identifying your property correctly (apparently). I put in the name of our former tenants. Still going swimingly. The only teeny weeny problem came when it asked for a meter reading.  The outgoing tenants, not content with not paying rent for the past 5 months and trashing the house, refuse to let me have the meter readings, so I left if blank.

EDF emailed me.  (I've translated it into English for ease)

"Madame, thank you for registering your new account online. However, before we can create it, we need to have a meter reading'

I e-mailed them back

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail. You will see from my application that I live in England so unfortunately I can't supply a meter reading. Please could you arrange to one of your meter readers to visit the property and take a reading. Cordialement"

They e-mailed again

"Madame, thank you for your e-mail. However. before we can set up your account we need to have a meter reading. Please supply one"

Hmmm. I e-mailed back

"Monsieur/Madame.  I'm afraid that I live in England and as the house is in France I can't supply a meter reading. Please arrange to have the meter read. Cordialement"

Another reply landed in my inbox

"Madame, thank you for your e-mail. Please supply the exact address of your future home as well as the name of the former tenants.  Please note that we cannot set up your account till you have supplied us with a  meter reading"

By now I was feeling slightly less cordial

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail. I  have already supplied the address of my house in France. It was a mandatory field in the online registration form. Likewise, I have already supplied the name of my former tenants, that was also a mandatory field on the online registration form.  Unfortunately I am still in the UK and my house is still in France so it is not feasible for me to supply you with a meter reading. Cordialement"

Bing, you have a new message......

"Madame,  thank you for supplying the requested information. However, please note that we cannot set up your account until you have supplied us with a meter reading" (their bold).  If you would like to discuss this with us please telephone on the number on the reverse of your bill.

So I replied again...

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail.  There is absolutely no point in requesting a meter reading, even in bold letters. It will not alter the fact that I am in England and my house (and it's electricity meter) are in France. In between us is a small sea (La Manche) and a large landmass (La France), therefore I cannot supply one. Please would you arrange for the meter to be read.  I am unable to call you on the number on the reverse of my bill as I do not have a bill. I do not have a bill as I am not yet a customer. That is what I'm trying to sort out now"

And guess what they said...

"Madame, we are unable to open an account without a meter reading. Please supply us with an up to date meter reading otherwise we will have to arrange for an operative to  visit the property and read the meter"

Hoo - Bloody - Ray!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Rugby World Cup Facial Hair of Shame Award

Facial hair seems to be in abundance in this year's Rugby World Cup with everything from the 'I model myself on George Michael' look to 'Amish is cool'. Here are my nominations for the RWC Facial Hair of Shame Award. Who do you think should get it?

1. Lionel Nallet - France

 First on my list is 'Les Bleus' Lionel Nallet. Not exactly off the pages of French Vogue is he? He's a bit more 'Homeless People 'r' Us.

2.  Maxime Medard - France

What's this? Another 'Bleu'?  This time it's Maxime Medard. I like retro, sometimes retro is good, but Medard's 70s style mutton chops are just crying out for a razor

3.  Dan Cole - England

Ginger beards are just a great big no-no. Nuff said.

4.  Adam Jones - Wales

Just wrong. Wrong on so many fronts

5.  Cornelius Van Zyl - Italy (yes, Italy)

Sporting a fine 'Italian' name and a patchy, straggly beard, Cornelius is one of many from the Italian team who could have made the list

6.  Natani Edward Talei - Fiji

I mean, really, is it worth it?

7.  Adam Kleeburger - Canada

From one extreme to the other, Adam's 'Amish is The New Black' beard is so impressive it's even been trending on Twitter. Sadly, for his legions of beard fans he plans to shave it off after the Rugby World Cup.

8.  Pat Danahy - USA

Although it may look like a fake, stuck on beard, I am reliably informed that it is, in fact, real

9.  Vladimir Botvinnikov - Russia

There's no hiding that Brucie chin on our Vlad

10.  Jebb Sinclair - Canada

For the final candidate we are back to Canada, to Jebb Sinclair, seen here sporting 'My Mom and Dad are Cousins' look

So, who gets your vote?

Coming soon... The Rugby World Cup Donald Trump Bad Hair Day Award and the Rugby World Cup Most Messed Up Face Award

P.S Thanks to the RWC Official Site for the photos. I've probably breached your copyright but if that's the case please send the All Blacks to do a Haka in my lounge. I promise to be very frightened....