Sunday 21 February 2010

In a non-league of their own

The woman sat in front of me trained her digital SLR camera on the number 10 player. Every few seconds she would take a shot, hoping to capture him doing some fancy footballing move. It's a shame she didn't happen to take a photo of (presumably) her son dramatically diving following a legitimate tackle from an opposing player, prompting the ref to mistakenly show a second yellow card to the Tooting & Mitcham tackler. When her boy was substituted shortly afterwards the home crowd booed and hollered. Unsurprisingly his mum didn't take a photo of this moment either. But she was obviously still proud of her son as she resolutely applauded, and this was nice to behold.

 Dramatic skies over Imperial Fields (good old iPhone)

It was a freezing cold day yesterday, but that didn't stop me from going along to watch Tooting & Mitcham United versus Sutton United at T&M's smart little ground, Imperial Fields. The two teams play in the Ryman Football League Premier Division. I went to the match with legendary Two Footed Tackle podcasters Gary Andrews and Chris Nee, Gary's friend Rob and a chap off Twitter who turned out to be a fellow Gashead! It was a tenner to get in, which I thought was a little steep until I realised we had access to a stand with seats, and very nice seats they were too.

It was an enjoyable match for a neutral such as myself, although I was perhaps slightly biased towards Tooting since I used to live there. The quality of the football (and refereeing) certainly wasn't the best I've seen, and there were a number of amusing moments, including the strangest corner I've ever witnessed (I'm sure the odd move probably worked in training). Tooting went 1-0 up in the first half, undeservedly in my humble view, but Sutton pulled one back after the break. Tooting did well to hold on playing with only 10 men in the second half, and overall I think the draw was a fair result. 

One of the things I like most about going to football matches - especially the lower league ones - is the characters on the terraces. It took me quite a way into the second half to realise that the home and away fans behind each goal had swapped ends during half time to cheer on their teams from behind the appropriate goal mouths. There were quite a lot of Sutton fans mingled in with us in the stand with us as well, something you simply don't see in the football league. 

One Sutton fan in front of me was a very vocal gentleman, who seemed preoccupied with hollering at Tooting's manager rather than focusing on the actual football. At one point someone (who I later discovered to be Tooting's captain who wasn't playing yesterday) turned around and shouted to him "you should be locked up in a cage!" Another Sutton fan sat behind us was probably the least knowledgeable football fan ever, but still insisted on imparting his incredibly biased take on the game at every given opportunity, and VERY LOUDLY. 

After the match I travelled on the London Tramlink for the first time. This, combined with a Bovril AND a hot chocolate at the ground, nearly pushed me over the edge with excitement (you think I jest, but just ask Gary).

Saturday 20 February 2010

Try hard with a cringe-ance

I'm no stranger to embarrassment. In fact, so many embarrassing things have happened to me that I think I'm almost immune to the familiar feeling of self-conscious shame. My blush-inducing repertoire goes right back to my childhood, but one of my most cringeworthy public shamings was in my awkward teenage years.

Every year my secondary school would have a PE awards ceremony, with an entire double period dedicated to recognising the sporting achievements of each year group. The fastest sprinters, the highest jumpers and the top goal scorers were all presented with shiny statuettes which they proudly paraded at school for the rest of the day and took home that evening where it undoubtedly took pride of place on the family mantelpiece for the next 12 months.

But there was one award that nobody wanted. The Effort Award. I can see what my school was trying to do with this particular accolade; to recognise the consistent endeavours of a pupil who tried hard, in order to send out the message to everyone else that winning isn't everything:
"Look, kids! You can still be a winner even if you don't cross the finish line first! All you have to do in life is try your hardest!!!"
It goes without saying that, sadly, the award definitely did not carry with it this well-meaning sentiment. The 'winner' of this award was labelled a clumsy loser, who - despite unashamedly trying hard - was basically rubbish at sport.

I think you know where this story is going but I shall persist with my tale, as my trying spirit is obviously still intact.

I remember the day vividly. Year 9. I was 14. Walking to the school hall with my gaggle of girly friends, sniggering about who was going to be the unlucky beneficiary of the Effort Award this year. Feeling a bit excited because this year the Year 10s were in the same ceremony and we'd be able to nose at how the older girls had done their hair and try and catch the eyes of the older boys.

The Effort Award was always the last award to be presented. The teachers seemed to somehow think it was a special award that deserved a big build up. For some reason as the moment approached I got a sick feeling in my stomach, as if I knew what was to come. You see, I really enjoyed PE. I was a competitive soul in team and individual activities, and no matter how much I hated running long distances I always had a sprint finish in me. But I never came first, always second or third, much to my annoyance.

My PE teacher started to explain why this yet-to-be-named Year 9 had been selected for this year's honour. The word 'she' prompted all the Year 9 boys to breathe a sigh of relief. I could feel the tension building and, gradually, as the kind words continued to be spoken people slowly turned to look at me. They knew. I sodding knew.
"And this year, I am delighted to announce that the PE Effort Award goes to HAYLEY DUNLOP!"
Oh. My God. Please swallow me now, I pleaded with the ground. I somehow made my way up on to the stage (yes, a blimin' STAGE!), grabbed the statuette from the hands of my beaming PE teacher and ran back to my seat as quickly as possible. I had never been so embarrassed and I had never been so red in the face. AND ALL IN FRONT OF THE YEAR 10s!

When I got home that night the trophy didn't go on the mantelpiece because I was too ashamed of it. It stayed in the cupboard in the study for the next year until I had to take it back into school ready for the next unlucky recipient.

But, looking back, I now realise that I should have been proud of winning that award. I can't remember specifically what the teacher said before she announced my name because the noise of the blood rushing to my face seemed to drown lots of it out, but I can remember that she said that the winner was a team player with a strong competitive spirit. In hindsight I think my teacher felt I deserved to win something because of the, well, effort I put into everything. I won that award for all the right reasons, but I couldn't see that at the time. I'm not sure many 14-year-olds could. But now I feel I should finally embrace my Effort Accolade, so thank you, Teacher, for that award. The embarrassment gave me a realistic taste of what life would throw at me and helped to thicken my skin. And thank goodness for thick skin.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

The Brizzle Language School

This is funny too (it makes I laaff)..

Ark at ee!!

I've been in Bristol the last few days and today I stumbled across this legendary clothing stall in St Nicholas Market in the city centre. To someone who's never been to Bristol before the catchphrases emblazoned on the clothing probably mean absolutely nothing, but to me - who grew up in Bristol - I can't get enough of them. Hover over some of the images to hear some classic Bristolian phrases. I loves it, I do.

Thursday 11 February 2010

This is not the Facebook login page either

Today was supposed to be really fun. I was meant to be taking part in a TV show called 'Restaurant in our Living Room' where me and some friends were going to be dinner guests in a celebrity's home (we didn't ever find out who). But I've had such a busy week at work that when the call came through from the producers yesterday to presumably offer us our dining places I was in a meeting. And I didn't leave my voicemail on. So the opportunity sadly passed us by.

Despite this letdown, a couple of things have made me laugh A LOT today.

Firstly, this:

Top tip: It's annoying when you have to pay for condiments when you go to the chippy or eat out. I carry a pencil case stuffed with sachets of sauce, salt, pepper and vinegar, so I'm never without my extras.

This kind of behaviour definitely isn't normal, right?! I mean, surely the whole point of a takeaway is that you take it home, where hopefully you have a nice array of condiments in your kitchen cupboard. And personally I can't remember the last time I ate in a restaurant where they charged me extra for a dollop of Ketchup. But also, where on earth can you actually buy these small sachets? Unless you happen to regularly visit the cash and carry, I think they're probably quite difficult to get hold of. In which case, this 'top tip' is advocating theft!

Or so I thought until this very evening, as I was ascending the escalator at Leicester Square tube station. You see, as I was moving upwards, a dapper-looking gentleman was travelling in the opposite direction on the corresponding escalator. As he passed one of these 'stand on the right' ridges between the two escalators I noticed he picked something up that had been resting on the side of the sign that had been facing him. A sachet of tomato sauce! He looked at his new possession, nodded at it approvingly and placed it in his coat pocket with a very satisfied look on his face. As I passed this ridge I looked back, and lo and behold there was also a barbecue sauce tub resting there as well! So obviously *that's* how you acquire these mini saucy treats. Vigilance, people, vigilance!

Despite the TV show disappointment I met up with my friends who I had been due to go on the show with for a lovely dinner anyway. Then I got home to discover this. Now I don't normally write about online / social media stuff as there are loads of other bloggers who do this much better than me, but I must say that this is one of the funniest things I've seen online for a while. Basically the well-known tech blog ReadWriteWeb posted a news item about Facebook, and the post's headline happened to include the words 'Facebook' and 'login'. Now, it turns out that lots of less tech-savvy Facebook users sign in to the site by Googling 'Facebook Login' and clicking on a search result. So when this blog post came up as a result, a fair few number of people clicked on it thinking that they were on the new-look Facebook page. 

When trying to work out how to sign in to the new red-themed design, the only place they could find to enter their details was at the foot of the article to leave a comment using their Facebook profile. It's well worth reading this comment thread to witness the sheer confusion of some people who can't understand the 'new Facebook'. Here are just some of the comments (some of which are probably jokes):

Ok If I have to I will comment,I love facebook so right now just want to log in if thats ok with Keep up the good work...
All I want to do is log in, this sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
OK can I long in now
I am going to delete my account (IF I CAN EVER LOG IN) as this SUCKS BIG TIME ! If this does not get back to NORMAL you are going to lose a lot of folks who hate this and as you can see from all the comments they think it sucks too !!! facebook was great for connecting with old friends, NOT SO MUCH. SO HOW DO I LOG IN ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
The people at RWW cottoned on to what was going on, and posted a helpful paragraph in the middle of the article to point out that "this site is not Facebook".

I know it's easy to say "oh my God some people are so stupid' but the truth is that there must be so many web users who only use the internet for Facebook and other similar sites. So if they'd heard rumours about the new design from their Facebook friends then tried to access the login page in the usual way via Google then you can sort of understand their confusion. But still extremely funny for us lot.

Sauce photo from Dan (aka firrs)'s Flickr Photostream.

Saturday 6 February 2010


E-mail from the National Lottery: "We have some exciting news about the ticket that you bought for the Friday 05 February draw. Please click here and and enter your username and password to view the details online now."

I hovered my finger over the word 'here' on my shiny new iPhone. But suddenly I stopped myself from tapping the tempting hyperlink. I was on a train. What if I'd won the ACTUAL £113 million Euromillions jackpot?? I simply wouldn't be able to contain my hysteria if I'd won squillions of quid. So I didn't tap the hyperlink. I put my iPhone away and got lost in my thoughts for the remainder of the journey.

I could pay off my mortgage, I thought to myself. I could pay for all of my cousins to go through university. I could buy my parents the country home of their dreams, and a funky pad in London so they could come and hang out with me whenever they wanted. I could BUY BRISTOL ROVERS!! I could give loads away to charity. I could buy a loft apartment in New York and a place big enough in London to house a drum kit. And a recording studio! I could get Teletext up and running again for my Grampy, even if it was only in his home. I could give life-changing amounts of money to all of my family and closest friends.

I walked home from the train station a little faster than normal, my keys poised in my hands a long time before I got to my front door. Switched on laptop. Logged into Lottery account.

"Congratulations - you've won £19.50!"

And you know what? I felt strangely relieved.