Friday, 26 November 2010

Top 5 Sporting Injuries (that I have had)

Just when I thought I'd have to miss a week someone mentions a topic to me (cheers Al) that I reckon I can knock off pretty quick. As a 40-something, overweight and balding man, I'm starting to come to grips with my own mortality. I've never been a naturally talented athlete. I enjoy playing sport and will always give my best but there has never been any danger that I'd go on to any significant level. I reckon I'm the worst player to have featured for my work's Football first team. I've also had a long running succession of failures to win singles Tennis matches. I'm good enough to compete, but not good enough to win. Despite that I enjoy partaking in sport and for most of my life have remained injury free. I think I was probably 30 before I picked up a serious injury. Now I can't go for more than a month without something going wrong.

1. Achilles tendonotis - Annoyingly this happened as I jogged from the pavilion onto the field. Thankfully I didn't rupture it but I've been suffering with this pain in my achilles tendon for over 18 months now. Finally starting to make progress with orthotic insoles (to help correct for my flat feet) and physio.

2. Fractured Wrist - Summer 6-a-side tournament went into the knockout stages and my team's game needed penalties. I can't remember who we had in goal for the group stages but for whatever reason I decided to take over for the spot kicks. Things were even, and I'd saved at least one, when one of my skinniest and lightweight pals stepped up to have a go. The shot was high (probably going to hit the crossbar at best) but I saved it with my outstretched left hand. Hurt like heck afterwards but I went back in goal for two more pens (relying on my feet with inevitable losing consequences). I was off to Holland the next day so my then girlfriend (now wife) was less than impressed that we had to spend 3 hours in A&E, and things didn't get better when the hospital confirmed a slight fracture and sent me home fully plastered up.

3. Broken Nose - Another Football injury. I got a bit carried away and found myself up front and looking for a goal. Got my head near a great cross (which must have been quite low, as anyone who has seen me jump will testify) but just as I was about to make contact felt a sharp pain and a saw brilliant white light. Defender had caught me with his elbow right on the end of my nose. Felt fine for 5 seconds before the gush of blood began streaming out. Another trip to A&E confirmed a fairly straight break that would "probably heal itself". It did though I like to think I've added a bit of rugged character to my looks.

4. Dislocated Finger - Rugby this time and a ridiculously minor injury. Playing a game of touch I grabbed an opposing players shirt but he jinked out of reach. This caused my fingers to snap together, which briefly hurt but didn't cause me any concern until it started swelling up a few hours later. This one just sorted itself out, though has left me with a wonky middle finger.

5. Bad Back - Not entirely sports related, an inflamed vertebrae left me in absolute agony and unable to walk for a couple of weeks. Brilliantly this coincided with the early stages of the 2002 World Cup so I had a very pleasant time confined to the house on some extremely powerful anti-inflammatories.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Top 5 episodes of The Goodies

After another ridiculously busy week at work its nice to have a few minutes to consider some ridiculous comedy. I watched the BBC tribute "The Return of the Goodies" with my boys the other day. It was not great but did bring back some happy memories of The Goodies prime time era. The boys seemed to like it too. It's not the most complex comedy but sometimes seeing a giant cat destroy London is just what you need. The Goodies were a bit like a family friendly Monty Python, who I didn't really discover until the early 80's. The Goodies did some similarly surreal things and probably don't get the recognition they deserve.

1. Bunfight at the O.K. Tea Rooms (Series 5) - In which The Goodies strike cream in Cornwall and take part in a squeezy tomato ketchup shootout.

2. Kung-Fu Kapers (Series 5) - In which Bill displays his skills with the Lancastrian martial art of Ecky Thump. An episode so funny a man died watching it.

3. Kitten Kong (Series 2) - In which Graeme feeds Twinkle super growth mixture resulting in the kitten growing to enormous size before squashing Michael Aspel and destroying St Paul's Cathedral & the Post Office Tower.

4. Scatty Safari (Series 5) - In which The Goodies capture Rolf Harris to replace Tony Blackburn as the star attraction for their safari park. Unforgettable scenes of herds of Rolfs roaming the country and a puppet sized little Rolf.

5. The Goodies Rule O.K. (1975 Xmas Special) - In which a General Election sees entertainment ruled illegal, a puppet government is formed (headed by Sooty & Sweep) and The Goodies are chased by giant sized Magic Roundabout characters.

Series 5 is clearly where it was at, the Xmas special followed that series too so 1975 must have been the year of The Goodies.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Top 5 Films of the Nineties

The nineties has proved to be my favourite decade in film. I’m not sure why but there are enough contenders for this top 5 to make a decent top 15. It was a period that saw the arrival of a number of exciting new directors and a time when I had more say in the films I watched. Before the 90s I was mainly watching films chosen by consensus. Me and my mates would find a house to crash round after the pub, watch a crap film and have a few beers. This usually left us with a ropey comedy or a low budget horror film. Since the 2000s I’ve had children and the films have been almost exclusively animated.

1. Reservoir Dogs 1992 (Dir: Quentin Tarantino) – My favourite Tarantino film, seeing it for the first time was like witnessing the arrival of punk in music. A unique perspective, the warehouse setting, allowed the story to be gradually revealed whilst brilliant dialogue and an excellent cast kept your interest intact and provided some wonderfully comic moments. Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth provide the main focus and form an oddly loving relationship, all the more poigniant for Roth's true identity. Steve Buscemi adds some comic relief with his high energy nervous paranoia and Michael Masden combines psychotic ear slicing with a sauve sense of calm ("You're a big Lee Marvin fan, aren't you?").

2. Fargo 1996 (Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen) – The Coens get everything right with this darkly comic crime film set against the snow covered backdrop of Minnesota. Coen regular Frances McDormand is wonderful as Marge, the seven-month pregnant chief of police. But there are many impressive performances, especially William H. Macy, as the failing car salesmen trying to catch a break, and Steve Buscemi, in another fast talking east coast criminal role .

3. Pulp Fiction 1994 (Dir: Quentin Tarantino) – Probably more critically acclaimed than Dogs, Pulp Fiction is undoubtedly a brilliant piece of cinema. The three stories seamlessly intertwine though both plot development and timeline. It's packed full of memorable scenes; Vincent & Jules discussing the differences between Europe and America, Harvey Keitel's appearance as The Wolf arriving to help clear up the mess from an accidental hit and Christopher Walken telling the unintentionally humourous story of the gold watch.

4. Leon 1994 (Dir: Luc Besson) – A wonderfully subtle film that revolves around the relationship between a professional hit man, Jean Reno, and an orphaned 12 year old girl played by Natalie Portman. Besson avoids the obvious pitfalls of this relationship and creates a remarkable piece of cinema.

5. Fight Club 1999 (Dir: David Fincher) – A disorientating film that keeps its twist well hidden and leaves you with as many questions as answers come the conclusion. Reading the book helped me understand the film and watching the movie again helped me understand the book.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Top 5 Greyhound racing colours

I'm not the biggest gambler in the world but I do enjoy the occasional flutter. Two quid on the first goalscorer or a fiver on some non-league club knocking us out of the cup. It won't make me a fortune but it can add a bit of fun to watching a game. I've been horse racing a couple of times but never yet made it to a greyhound race. The first time I watched dog racing on the telly I picked six consecutive winners. I was only about twelve but an inner voice told me I'd never come close to that again and I think I've avoided it for that very reason. Still, I like the use of uniform colours and numbers. They add something to the excitement of the race I can't quite explain.

1. Trap 6 (Black & White Stripes with Red numeral)

2. Trap 1 (Red with White numeral)

3. Trap 5 (Orange with Black numeral)

4. Trap 4 (Black with White numeral)

5. Trap 2 (Blue with White numeral)

Which leaves Trap 3 (White with Black numeral) outside my list.

And just room for a quick hat tip to Blur for using greyhound racing as the cover for their best album Parklife. They lose points though for using the American system on the back to number the tracks.