понедельник, 8 октября 2007 г.

thepiemansimon: Vernonstein Little

Spent Thursday and Friday at the Oktoberfest in Munich - a beer-filled experience. Watching a small slip of a lass carrying 12 steins of beer is quite awe-inspiring. My camera is filled with some very valuable photos of well-paid bankers doing things they really shouldn't - especially if they need to negotiate deals with me anytime soon! I made the eminently sensible decision to avoid the rollercoasters, which put paid to the thirst of at least one of the participants. Despite expecting the whole thing to be rubbish I have to say it was amazing frankly. The atmosphere was brilliant and I saw no hint of trouble - the complete opposite of what would happen if you had such an event in England. The issue then was returning late on Friday in time for my future-brother-in-law's second stag do on the Saturday. More beer. Then up with the larks on Sunday (not feeling very well at all) to attend the Times xword finals in Cheltenham. Those who know me will not be surprised to hear that I missed the turn off from the M4 by at least 2 junctions and got lost. The finals themselves were very disappointing. Frankly I was rubbish. On three puzzles that most people seemed to find easy I performed abysmally, eventually handing in the answers in about 45 mins. I spent probably 12 of these minutes on 3 clues in the first puzzle, where I'd made what turned out to be a common error for one answer but, unlike most other people, I hadn't solved another answer which meant that I was able to compound the first error with a second error. This then made the third answer absolutely unsolvable. And so it proved until I eventually spotted the mistake. Even after all this I still made my customary one mistake on another puzzle so all in all it was pretty pathetic. Now on to people who performed properly: I felt so sorry for Shane, who was sitting next to me and had his hand up finished in what I thought was a very decent time. I'd not seen many people put up their hands at this stage so thought he had a very decent chance of getting through. Alas it wasn't to be. He needed to chose the other semifinal where I believe people qualified with a time of 52 minutes (assuming they were all correct). We adjourned to the pub with Tim Smith and Peter Brooksbank as well as the eerie Richard Green, brother of John. Eerie in the sense that he is the spitting image of his brother and shares many personality traits! The amusing thing is that, whereas John tends to be focussed on crosswords, Richard will expound on all manner of things and especially sport. I was slightly worried about Peter B as he prepared for the final with about 4 pints of Guinness, which I know would not have optimised the performance of those with weaker constitutions. However I think it is Peter's modus operandi at work so he was simply trying to make conditions as normal as possible. Peter's average Times xword is completed in 2 stops of the tube, although he does admit that St John's Wood to Baker Street is a long stop... The great improvement they've made this year is the ability to watch the final and solve the puzzles concurrently with those participating. I thought the puzzles were pretty tough and I had three answers left unfinished in the third puzzle after 1 hour and, it turned out, a mistake in puzzle 1. Hats off to everyone who got through the puzzles in the time and especially to Peter Biddlecombe on winning the title for a second time. Congratulations too to Mr Magoo on his new arrival: Billy Bob was born on Friday and is doing well. I was disappointed that he failed to heed the extensive advice I'd given him on names: Sauron being my favourite. Of course he has catered for Lord of The Rings fans like me by allowing the obvious Mr Bilbo to be made using a similar method to that which yields Magoo. On to sport: - rugby was amazing. Slightly galling that I was offered corporate hospitality for both the England game and the New Zealand game but couldn't go due to a xword championship at which I was so poor and a stag do (at which my beer consumption was also poor!). Can't really see us beating the French in Paris, the emotion will be hard to overcome. Then really can't see us beating South Africa after that but I guess pressure is a funny thing... - football. I haven't posted on the subject of Liverpool's champions league fiasco vs Marseille last week because I don't know the words to express the contempt I have for the performance. I will try by using adjectives that don't quite do it. We were abject. It was the WORST performance I can remember in all the time I've watched Liverpool. Things that concern me: - Leto & Aurelio: both don't look good enough. Rotation is fine if all the players have similar ability but they don't. To claim that a 95% fit Torres is equivalent to a 100% Voronin just isn't right - it doesn't work like that. - Gerrard is just not performing in the middle. All the reporters who ranted and raved about him playing on the right should think about what they are watching now and reconsider. Please can Alonso get fit soon. I'd then be tempted to play Gerrard on the left of midfield for a couple of games with Riise dropping to left back. The problem at the moment is that our options on the left just aren't good so teams know that they don't need to devote full attention to defending that side - which frees men up elsewhere. - This was again the case vs Tottenham yesterday when, again, we were very poor in front of an almost silent Anfield. I won't write this often but I watched the highlights of the Arsenal game last night and you have to take your hat off to them - they are playing the most sublime football. Van Persie looks mustard, what a striker of the ball. Good that we've got Everton away next then Arsenal. Fancy our chances. Not. Radiohead's new album comes out on Wednesday. Only available on the internet and you can decide how much to pay. My little brother has paid £1. I guess if all the money goes to the band though this may turn out to be very clever on their part. They probably only make £1 from a normal CD so even skinflints like my brother aren't leaving them worse off by going this way. PLEASE PLEASE let the album be more like The Bends and Ok Computer than Kid A etc.

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