Monthly Archives: January 2010

Not enough hours in the day…

…that is what I blame my abject punting display yesterday on.

Once again the world turned and I was slightly behind it.  Leaving late on account of the 8 a.m. inspection, missing the first and not being able to get a copy of the Post until I was on course all meant I had no chance for some proper study.  This is what you need when entering the bear-pit and I had a)  forgotten b) little opportunity – which was my own fault.

Time was on a Saturday, when the girls were little and had naps in the day, that I would take the dog out early doors and buy the Post.  I also used to buy the ill-fated Sporting something or another in its brief life.  Then I would read the form and read the trainers’ comments which, as a novice, I set great store by.  Then I would take the dog out again via the bookies and place my bets.

The kids never sleep during the day now, not even when they are ill.  On weekends they like to do stuff.  Come on dog walks, hang out, watch films.  I knocked the sticking my head in a paper habit on a Saturday a long time ago because it was selfish and didn’t read well.  Consequently, I have come to terms with Saturday, the biggest punting day of the week, being my missed opportunity so to speak.  I’m ok with that in the comfort of my own home.  Doing a nearly 8 hour round trip with your dear mother counting her wonga in the dusk is a little harder to take!  I don’t begrudge anyone a winner though.

I was able to read the Racing Post last night at bedtime.  Therein were  some of the nuggets I could have done with on course.  In one small field hurdle race I had a nice theory about the well-bred Fiulin, trained by Evan Williams (in form) and was somewhat seduced by some fancy entries (Champion/World Hurdle).  This fella downed tools before the home turn on the hill and came home last.  As he dragged his sorry, and as it became evident fat, arse past the stands to explain himself to his connections I popped him in the mental notebook “will come on for the run”.  If I had acquainted myself with the trainer’s view I would have know this:

“Time has conspired against us. It’s now the end of January and we haven’t been able to run him, so instead of going for a Mickey Mouse race and learning nothing, we are going for a good race to hopefully find out where we are with him. He has done a lot of schooling (makemeadiva notes: the beast jumped nicely it must be said), but he is a big horse and will come on a bundle for whatever he does here.”

So basically, I paid money to find out what I had already paid money to find out when I bought the paper.  This, incidentally, is what trainer, Robin Dickin, said of the race winner Restless Harry who laid it down from the front and earned the only applause of the day from me.

“I have been riding horses for 40 years but the feel he gave me when I rode him on Tuesday was the best I’ve had. It was an extraordinary piece of work so I have to be expecting a good run. He is in better order than before (his last race) and was hardly trained or fed – this time he’s highly trained and well fed, so I hope I haven’t messed him up!”

Of course, not all trainers’ comments are equal.  Paul Nicholls did not fancy Taranis, who delivered at 20/1 (well done to one Ms AMB 🙂 )after 766 days off the track since breaking down in the 2007 King George, saying:

“…it’s been a hard road back and I have yet to see the old ability’s still there.”

Yep the ability’s still there Paul and Fiulin is porky sort who thinks he doesn’t fancy actually running fast after about 1m6f. 

It was all there, shame I didn’t read it first.

On the upside, I saw a Red Kite and Buzzard on the way out (these are impressive birds of prey and deserve to be proper nouns).  I met some old and new friends on course and saw a fantastic yellow moon on the way home. 

Oh, and mother bought the chips.

Mine was on the M40

Football in 3D

Available at selected pubs this weekend.

Of course, if you don’t fancy standing round in dodgy glasses with your pint you could try something radical.

Go to a real live 3D football match.  I heard there are loads of them about.

I am, weather permitting, going to watch some 3D horses and win some 3D money.  You know what to do.

It's not going to happen, is it?

Ranter or Sulker?

Ranters have the upper hand I am afraid. In the 17th century they had their own religion involving maverick self-proclaimed prophets and messiahs. Ranters were also prone to immoral living, drunkeness and blasphemy. Today, they mainly settle for being more healthy than your average sulker.

A sulker surrounded by ranters?

Apparently you are either one, or the other.

I am definitely the former and I live with the latter.
I have low blood pressure, my compadre’s is higher – despite being very fit.
I rest my case.

Nostalgia meets Amnesia


Yesterday I felt all 1990s and posted a link to The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony, which was on constantly in late ’97 and ’98 – a period in my life I feel a bit wistful over (for no particular reason other than it being the fun you have in your twenties).

Then I went off to work which required me to go to a consultation thing for MIND (our local branch). They kicked off with speeches from the chair, Sir Teddy Taylor (resplendent in House of Commons braces – he was the baby there a long time ago you know) and an address from the MIND Director of Network Services, Lee Smith.

The whole time Mr Smith was talking, I was wondering where I knew him from. Not many clues in the name. He talked for about 10 minutes and by the end I had narrowed it down to London, more than ten years ago, probably working in a mental health setting in the voluntary sector. But I was still a bit baffled. Knowing it would probably drive me nuts I decided to nobble him as he left the stage and ask the random and potentially humiliating question – do I know you?

I have form for this kind of thing and it is embarrassing. So this time I ran through a checklist first based on the following experiences. Once I asked a man at the OXO Tower (who was evidently out with a beautiful girl he wanted to impress) if I had done a course with him at the City Lit. He had not. In fact he was an actor. From the television. So I did a check – did I see Lee Smith on the television ever and had never actually met him in real life? Maybe talking about the Mental Health Act or something. On balance I thought not.

Then I did the – have I confused him with someone else entirely check. I did this recently. I had a conversation with a woman in the supermarket called Vicky who was with her daughter Isabel. When she mentioned her young baby I declared shock and surprise as I hadn’t known she was pregnant when I thought I had last seen her. Eventually, my clanger became clear. She wasn’t the Vicky I thought she was, she was another one, with a daughter called Isabel. And then in my complete confusion I had to ask if I even knew her at all. Thankfully I did, we had been on the same course (for 6 months!) a couple of years ago. So she knew me. She must now know I am very absent-minded too.

Lee Smith seemed to pass that check, so I just asked if I knew him (which is a stupid question as it should be – do you know me? – but that is a tad egocentric) and mooted working in Brent as an opening gambit. Thankfully, he was not an actor or a doppelganger and he did recognise me and filled in my missing gaps. Working for MIND is obviously good for you. We were colleagues at St Mungo’s (in London but nowhere near Brent) in the mid to late 90s, working at different projects but with our paths crossing from time to time. I still can’t exactly remember the paths or the crossing details but you can’t indefinitely quiz a director of a national charity, at a formal do, for the missing bits of your memory jigsaw. Actually, I seem to have lost the lid too, so if anyone has that it would be helpful to have it back…

We had a nice chat. It was nice to see him. But it was disconcerting to have a malfunctioning memory. It felt like being in a car when the battery is turning over, just. I think I am going to stop harking back for a while and live in the moment as the short term memory seems ok for now.

Now, my mother doesn’t like this sort of talk so don’t read it mum / don’t tell her if you read it yourself: I txted the other half and asked him to smother me with a pillow if I ever really lose my mind.

Back in the classroom

That’s me on Tuesday afternoons.  I don’t mind saying it’s a tough gig.  I was a difficult pupil at school and it seems not much has changed.  The only difference so far is that I am turning up.  Listening and concentrating still seem to be a problem.

I still dislike “active” learning.  Ideally, I would like it all given me in written form and be left alone to read it.  All this interaction that goes on is torture.  Plus we are trapped for 3 hours before a half hour break  (check Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – after an hour and a half my needs revolve around a cup of tea), then another 2 hours of being caged.  I might have to start taking my laptop.  Yesterday I managed it with some recourse to reading poetry hidden under the handout.  I am so “visually” attuned it is practically a learning disability.  I was the child that hated practical experiments in sciences so, that I was eventually allowed to go to the back of the class and read about it instead from a text book…

Anyway I was going to post “The Drugs Don’t Work” but this is more apt: Bittersweet Symphony “no change, I can’t change”, and I prefer the tune.

Do you?

Dark side...

Here Emily, do you remember when we hustled at the Turks pool hall in Stoke Newington?

I don’t think you were there the night that the floor grew triffids and the oppo turned into Miss Piggy and then I tried to order a Chinese of dancing worms.

And Anna can you recall paddling in the pool in Clissold Park on a superwarm night when we had to heave you over the park fence? Not because you were fat! Just because you were little.

I remember it all like it was yesterday and they were the best times and I am glad I had them.

But when my girls come to me (or don’t come to me) in their badness, am I going to have a leg to stand on? Or will I just fake it. I think that’s what the parental job description requires.

Anyway, I still like to set them up and I miss us all living in London.

P.S. The skateboard killed it though 🙂

A (not so) Wee Dram

It’s Burns Night tonight. We are skipping the celebration this year (rib of beef, haggis, neeps and tatties followed by cranachan) due to another speech somewhere else apparently. Nonetheless I will be forcing a bit of Rabbie on some unsuspecting students and then raising my Balvenie Doublewood (rich and not so smoky) to the imaginary haggis late tonight.

This poem “To a Mouse” is achingly beautiful, but it has to be heard so I have linked it to audio clips as well as text. Written “on turning her up in her nest, with the plough” in November 1785 I find it heart-wrenching that, despite his own hard life, Burns was inspired by the plight of a mouse in his field. A lesson in humanity.

N.B. After years of thinking haggis sounded disgusting and then when buying it going to a high-end butcher for their own, I am now of the opinion you can’t beat a MacSween haggis.

P.S. Dad, the Russell tartan can be seen here, are you allowed to wear it or must you stick with this?

Campbell of Argyll

Offering 20/1 we get a paternal response before February 2010…

Irish Champion Hurdle Day – an either or situation

The either being Solwhit, the or being Celestial Halo.

It’s a shame the ground is on the heavy side today but of all the trainers’ remarks I have seen Paul Nicholls seems the most laid back, feeling the track will suit CH.  The Irish trainers on the other hand, including Donna’s Palm’s Noel Meade, seem to think they “will know where they are” with their horses after the race.  With Punjabi beaten yesterday there’s everything to play for.

I have had my fingers burnt by both the either and the or in the past.  Solwhit’s disappointing (to me anyway) display at Newcastle last autumn and Celestial Halo’s agonising miss in March.

*At this point the laptop crashed and I lost a paragraph! – so from memory it went something like this

The form book says Solwhit should win (and I am discounting Celestial Halo’s lacklustre performance @ Aintree last April over 2 and half miles) having beaten Punjabi himself which Celestial Halo couldn’t quite manage.  I wonder though.  I wonder if Celestial Halo has just that bit more tactical speed.  It seems silly to mention it on the heavy going.  Yes, it’s a definite either or.

From left, Binocular, Punjabi, Celestial Halo (I hope)

Ok – it’s going to be the Halo…

Forever – Thumbhatman (A video response to Chris Brown)

and hell does Chris Brown need one, badass mutha.

I know I’ll have to leave the music to the kids one day, but I am hanging in there and embarrassing them whilst I can.

I really like this tune, it makes me feel ten years younger and it would be just the kind of thing I would make a trolleyed pilgrimage off to Charlie Chan’s sticky floor in Hoxton to dance to at 2 a.m.  As it is, I would never have had their delicate interpretation of the tune – check out the “Sean Connery Eyebrow”, the “Usain Bolt”, the “Standing Around With Nowt To Do Move” and a whole new take on “Ecstasy”…

Cheesy but cool –  just kids hanging out in the ‘burbs enjoying themselves.  I particularly dig the arthouse shot down the side return with the wheelie bin/trash can, plus cardboard boxes.  And don’t miss the lanky lad killing it on the crazy paving…

*Thumbs up* Thumbhatman.

A “Brazenly Elitist” Blog Post

I know I said I would stop bitching, but I changed my mind.

Every time David Cameron has opened his trap this week he has come out sounding like the horrible Tory we hoped he might not be. Yesterday he was banging on about marriage in relation to “broken Britain”, which is the most simplistic view of raising balanced children I can think of.

Earlier this week he declared that 16 year olds that had elected not to shine in Maths and English could not become teachers, and a worse than Second in their degree would also consign them to the teaching scrapheap.

I have blagged my way through life with a handful of O’ levels and now find myself teaching adults, some of whom are blessed with the gift of the blag and many who are not. Does having a First mean you will be able to teach the 30th child in your class who sits silently, believes they can’t do anything right and will hold that belief so close to their heart that it might as well be stamped through them like a stick of rock for life? Does having a First mean that when they still believe they can’t spell or do much at all as adults, yet remember your name and face like it was yesterday that you will have any memory of them at all? Probably not.

Some of the brightest stars are the most blinding David, and a piece of paper does not an enduring union make.

I am practically in love with Ed Balls now and that is a terrible thing to type and I am pretty certain who broke Britain too (and it wasn’t Winston Churchill).