Thursday, June 30, 2016

Well I never

Tom Cruise arrived at the Old Ruts club by helicopter this morning. How do you like them berries?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We drew 0-0 with them away in 2014 then beat them 1-0 at home last year in the tournament's Group B qualification games. We've got every chance if we can stay that thrifty.

Hat tip, Chris H for the image.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

England 1 - 2 Iceland

I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open ......
That will have been the ref then.

Actually I did prophesy the result myself. I shouted it over the road to Pat when I noticed him getting back from work at about the same time as me yesterday. It is probably on London Borough of Merton CCTV footage somewhere.

Theoretically - and as I speculated here - Wales and Iceland can still meet in the final.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ain't nobody messing with the gang

Dom's report on the match against Bromley that I missed when I was in Cardiff:
With some of our more powerful players missing, it was good to welcome Bill back from injury and he had a great game as did the rest of the boys in the second half when we came from 26 - 0 behind to lose narrowly 46 - 36. Even by our usual slow starting standards, we had a poor start defensively and we were starved of the ball for good elements of the first half, however the second half was a different story as we started firing, running better lines in attack and offloading well to claw our way back into it. Unfortunately overall our defensive line was not functioning as well as it normally does but that is relatively easy to fix, so it was an encouraging performance against a good Bengals side.
The Rutlish U15s comprise the under fourteen cohort as well as the under fifteens. Ben says that Wesley, Saadiq and him where the only U15s on the pitch, so it is a good result in the circumstances. (Update: It has just struck me that Bill is an U15 as well, so Ben may have forgotten others in the text he sent me. I hope this revelation doesn't deliver even more downward pressure on the pound and the FTSE what with Brexit 'n'all.)

You can hear the voices of Rutlish and Bromley supporters on the sound track. They often disagree about what they are seeing but there is never any petulance in anyone's tone. I think it reflects well on all of them.

Also I realised as I was listening to the radio this morning that Marc's voice sounds exactly like the uncredited rapper that appears two minutes and twenty odd seconds into Tinie Tempah's Girls Like ft. Zara Larsson. Follow the link and tell me I'm not right -

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Hell Sucks

“We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality. Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.”
Michael Herr has died. His Vietnam War book Dispatches was among the most amazing things I read when I was a kid.

Here are an obituary, and Hell Sucks which is the Esquire story that started the whole thing off.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Juxtaposed controls

One of the key issues driving the debate about Britain’s place in Europe was migration, and a key physical reminder of that is the “jungle” at Calais.

The jungle is a collection of makeshift huts and tents housing as many as 5,000 migrants who are using the camp as a base while they attempt to reach the UK.

The jungle is in France because of agreements struck between the UK and France in 1991 and 2003 that Britain’s border should effectively be in France.

This means that British border officials can carry out checks at French customs, including searching for hidden migrants.

The agreement is between the UK and France, and not strictly EU related but article 19 says:
The present Agreement may be terminated by the competent authorities of either of the Parties by giving a period of notice of six months.
This week it seems more likely to me that our government will get that notice from our friends across the Channel than it did last week. That would put the cat among the pigeons.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Smile and grin at the change all around

Merton’s turnout for the referendum was 73.5%, that’s 100,207 people. The borough’s postal vote turnout was 87%. The results for Merton are as follows: Remain: 63,003 votes; Leave: 37,097 votes.
This means that Merton voted to remain in the EU.

I was in the minority who voted to leave, because although I accept that the EU initially fulfilled its mission to neutralise the ancient bellicosity of rival nations, I think that it then lost its way so badly that it has become, instead, an incubator hatching the beast it wanted to slay. I believe, for example, that the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement directly led to the Ukrainian revolution of February 2014, and hence to Russia's annexation of Crimea and further that the ECB's position over the terms for a Greek bailout made it a proxy for a German extortion racket.

KFC India is selling chicken in a box with a built-in phone charger. They're calling it "Watt-A-Box".The phone charger comes at no extra cost to customers when they buy the popular 5-in-1 meal. The meal costs 150 rupees (£1.50). The 6,100mA power bank is detachable, reusable and is reportedly big enough to fully charge two phones.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

I'll take that

There was an atavistic part of me that was relishing England playing Portugal until Iceland's last minute goal though.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Games I have missed and will miss

Rutlish Raiders U15s came from behind for an ultimately comfortable 28-14 win against North Herts Crusaders on Saturday securing second place in the London West league table and a home quarter final on 9 July v Brentwood Eels.

We weren't there as I was taking Ben to the dentist to have new braces fitted on his teeth, but he is back this weekend for a home match against Bromley; probably no mugs as they came second themselves in the London East league, and beat Elmbridge who topped the West league in the cup. (I won't be at the game myself as I will be back in Cardiff seeing how mum and dad are getting on.)

I am pleased to see that Charlie, who has been out for a long time with problems with tendons and a broken finger should be back on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Together. Stronger

As you know, Wales beat Russia 3-0 last night to top Euro2016 Group B (while England's draw with Slovakia leaves them second). It means that next time out (5pm on Saturday) we will be up against the highest-ranked third-placed team from one of groups A, C or D in what will surely be a wonderful opportunity to get to the quarter finals.

What more can I say? Why not something gracious?

The media bombards us day after day with the message that every Russian is a gangster and every Russian institution aloof and manipulative.

Yesterday before the game though, I read this:
Wales will wear their red home kit against Russia tonight despite being the designated "away team" for the Euro 2016 Group B decider.
Chris Coleman's side had been expected to wear the charcoal and lime green away strip they wore in the defeat against England, with Russia's red home kit clashing.
But FAW officials were so keen for the players to be in their favoured red shirts for the biggest Welsh football match in a generation they approached Uefa to ask for the designated kits to be changed.
And that request has been granted after Russian officials said they did not have a problem with wearing their white away kit.
A generous and sporting gesture from the Russian FA don't you think? Perhaps the caricatures aren't all accurate.

Monday, June 20, 2016

MUNCHIES Guide to Wales

For all her other merits, Charlet Duboc isn't much of a rugby player. Not that I will let that come between us.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to be British

Hat tip: Simon B

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The day today

Despite a late surge, Wales lost the game and the series in New Zealand this morning.

On the other side of the ledger, my car's dashboard instrument cluster has magically started working again after just over a fortnight on the blink.

I would have preferred to have won the rugby and still be using a speedometer on my mobile phone, but at least life's not all dark.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why don't you let me worry about that?

A late goal from Daniel Sturridge was enough to help England beat Wales 2-1 in Lens on Thursday and break Welsh hearts.
Wales now lie in second place in the group, one point behind England and ahead of Slovakia thanks to a superior head-to-head record.
So, what does that mean for Wales' chances of qualification from the group?
It means a win against Russia would be enough to see Wales safely through to the next stage of the competition, without worrying about third-place scenarios.
On top of that, if England were to fail to beat Slovakia in their final fixture, then a win for Chris Coleman's side on Monday would see them qualify as group winners.
But, what about the other scenarios?
Remember, if teams are tied on the same number of points in the group, the head-to-head result between the two sides is the first criteria to see who finishes ahead of who.
If Wales draw with Russia
In this scenario, if England were to win against Slovakia, that would see Wales qualify in second place, two points ahead of Jan Kozak's side.
However, if the Slovaks were to beat the Three Lions on Monday, that would leave Wales in third place and in the hands of UEFA's new system for this year's tournament.
Remember, the four best third-placed teams qualify for the last 16, with the first criteria points gained, followed by goal difference.
If there was a draw between Slovakia and England - then Wales go through as runners-up as they would be level on points with Slovakia but won the head-to-head between the two sides.
If Wales lose to Russia
Let's hope it doesn't come to this.
In the event of a Wales loss, any result for Slovakia against England would see Wales knocked out of the competition.
However, if England were to beat Slovakia, then Wales could still have a reprieve - if they ended up as one of the four best third-placed teams out of all the Euro 2016 groups.
Again, to reiterate, the best third-placed teams will be decided on points gained followed by goal difference.
In conclusion, we need to win at eight o'clock on Monday evening. I imagine I will be watching it at home (ITV 4: Freeview channel 24). It's not likely to get much of a look in in South London's honky tonks and dive bars with an equally vital England game on at the same time.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Roll on 2pm

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”
― George Orwell, 1984

But then again: No Welsh fans arrested after violent scenes in Lille ahead of England v Wales.
The Football Association of Wales said on Thursday morning they had had confirmation from French police there were no issues or arrests of any Welsh supporters in Lille last night.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"Europe's kookiest nation about football"

I was delighted to see Iceland get a draw with Portugal last night.

Soccernomics, a book I read a couple of years ago (Icons passim), crunched the numbers to crown them "Europe's kookiest nation about football."

Chapter 12 The Country That Loves Football Most ends prophetically musing about the Icelanders that "if these people ever make it to a tournament they might really start to like football." Iceland has a population of 340,000 people (less than Leicester), of which one in ten are thought to be in France for Euro 2016.

In a perfect world they would meet Wales in the final.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Today I settled all Family business"

I've been using Uber for the odd journey since May 1st, and have found it quicker, more reliable and cheaper than conventional cabs.

When Andy H was configuring it on his iPhone at my recommendation he asked me what Family Profiles were. I didn't know, and wondered if perhaps the feature wasn't live when I went through installation and set up on my Android.

Herewith the skinny on this shiny new extension:
One feature passengers have frequently requested is an easy way to pay for family and friends. That’s why we are excited to announce Family Profiles, a new feature we’re launching that lets up to 10 riders safely and easily share one payment method.
Here’s how it works:

For the Family Profile organizer:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of the Uber app.
  • Go to Menu and choose Settings.
  • Scroll down to “Add a Family Profile” and select the contacts you would like to add.
  • As soon as the Family Profile rider accepts the invitation, they can begin requesting rides from their own phone using the Family Profile as their payment method.
  • The cost of the trip will automatically be billed to the Family Profile and the organizer will receive a receipt for every ride.
I've set it up for Ben today. It will come in handy as soon as Thursday, when - as I will have watched the England Wales footie on licensed premises - I won't be able to drive and pick him up myself in the evening. We can give it a dry run then. I like the fact that I will know the name of the driver and license plate of the car that picks him up as well as being able to follow the journey online.

Actually I had to ferry him around this morning which meant that I missed the Chiefs beating Wales in a 40-7 rout. That was a lucky break. Thank goodness I hadn't set it up yesterday.

I have also noticed (brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces) that Uber operates in Cardiff (, though at the moment when I have tested it there it seems a little hit and miss compared to its ubiquity here in the smoke.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Luke Charteris meets Kevin Taylor

Watch the beginning of this video. Kevin gets everywhere.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

a day of two halves

Wales were beating the All Blacks at half time yesterday, then things started to go wrong.

First news started to drift in that Ben's rugby league game at 11am had been cancelled, then New Zealand came back to beat us. Without the Rutlish game to draw me out of the pub, we also stayed to watch England beat Australia fairly soundly on their tour. Google timeline has me in the Charles Holden from 8:19 until 13:23.

Later the day began to turn around. The opposition's no-show seems to translate to a 24-0 win which leaves the boys firmly entrenched at second in the league. In order for North Herts Crusaders to pip us for it they will have to beat us by 137 points at the last regular league game next weekend and we would still be in the play offs even if they did.

Follow that with Wales' win over Slovakia and England's draw with Russia leaving the boys in red sitting pretty on top of UEFA Euro 2016 Group B.

Not a bad return on the day, all in all.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Gareth the Welsh rugby gnome will be back in the Charles Holden this morning for the first time since the Six Nations. I was hoping to get his cousin Richie the Kiwi rugby gnome to come along and keep Andy and Donna company but it wasn't to be.

Friday, June 10, 2016

a pop up office

As a rule the Merton Apprentice doesn't open until four o'clock on Thursdays. Next week however that will go out the window as they are showing every match of Euro2016.

Our office is in the same building, so yesterday I went down there at 4pm with a Microsoft Surface and a cordless phone on our land line. The Surface picked up our wifi and I could make and receive calls on the phone.

Next Thursday at two in the afternoon when England play Wales at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, in Lens we will seamlessly relocate from the first to the ground floor for the duration of the match and no one need be any the wiser. It is possible, though, that productivity may suffer.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

full of beer for breakfast, and feeling a bit buzzed

Is booze at breakfast the best way to start the day?
Barack Obama enjoyed a breakfast beer at the G7 summit and a London bar is now serving morning wine. From bloody mary to brandy, an early tipple is a fine European tradition.
We are meeting at the Charles Holden for New Zealand v Wales (kick off 8:35) on Saturday morning, so I am bound to have a drink or two, just as I did last July. John is up so we need a strategy that keeps us  - while not 100% sober - at least out of a Rugby: New Zealand v Wales 08:35, Australia v England 11:00, South Africa v Ireland 16:00; Football: Wales v Slovakia 17:00, England v Russia 20:00 write off of a whole day in the pub.

What I therefore propose is that after the test match we walk along to Lavender Park for Rutlish Raiders U15 v Sussex Merlins at 11:00 (Ben is coming to the Holden first thing as well). Then when the final whistle goes we trot along to Hoo Hing, the giant oriental supermarket up the road for a spot of lunch in the basic but fine restaurant hidden in it and wander round the shelves picking up some exotic ingredients.

Thence to the Wimbledon Brewery Food and Drink Market, say around 2pm where a couple of pints will be permitted, rude not to, then home to drop off purchases.

Normally I would go out to watch the Wales football in the Standard, but the Slovakia game clashes with South Africa v Ireland and the latter will probably dominate the TVs in there. The best alternatives are probably the Merton Apprentice or the Sultan. If Ben wants to watch the game as well though we could meet him at the Club in Poplar Road.

Does that sound like a plan?

New Zealand: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Jerome Kaino, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Joe Moody.

Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ardie Savea, T.J. Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Seta Tamanivalu.

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Ross Moriarty, Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies, Samson Lee, Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins.

Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Ellis Jenkins, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Scott Williams.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

get your teeth into this

The Rutlish Raiders U15s beat the Hemel Stags 50-20 on Saturday. That was an important win, as it boosts us up to second in the table.

This Saturday we have got the Sussex Merlins at home. Win that and we are guaranteed a place in the play-offs, and the following week's game away at the North Herts Crusaders should be a show down that decides who comes second and who comes third.

Ben can't make that last game unfortunately as he has an inviolable dental appointment to get new braces fitted on his teeth. On a Saturday rather than a school day! It is almost as if someone thinks that health and education is more important that rugby.

U15 - West league table


Elmbridge Eagles87013709427615

Rutlish Raiders8440234214208

North Herts Crusaders8440158233-758

Sussex Merlins835018017916

Richmond Warriors8341170252-823

Hemel Stags8260136276-1400

Everyone may be ordinary, but they're not normal

Back in Wales over the weekend, during a seemingly endless family discussion in the back garden over what name my new nephew should have, I heard my brother John mutter, "I have named the child Caleb, in accordance with your wishes" under his breath.

I recognised it as a quote from chapter 9 "Major Major Major Major" of Catch 22 (read it here, it is hilarious), and I was struck yet again by how remarkably similar our tastes and references are despite a nine year age difference which means that I had gone to university before he was ten. How may people would say it? How many people would pick up on it?

The novel relates that Maj. Major was named "Major Major Major" by his father, as a joke – passing up such lesser possibilities such as "Drum Major, Minor Major, Sergeant Major, or C Sharp Major" and that addition of the rank of Major was the result of "an IBM machine with a sense of humor almost as keen as his father's". Extremely apt in the context of a debate stretching over weeks on what name tag to pin on a blameless child.

Other book news: I finished reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World by Haruki Murakami yesterday and started on The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

To my surprise Mukherjee's book kicks off with a quote from Murakami's IQ84, and now I have noticed that Mukherjee is appearing at a 5x15 event in London tonight. The universe seems to be leading me by the nose. I don't know where, but I will come along for the ride.

Monday, June 06, 2016

A Twist of Lemmon

As I was driving down to Cardiff on Friday I was listening to The Curtain Up Show on Resonance FM. Chris Lemmon, son of the legendary Jack Lemmon, was on it talking about the one man show he has written about his father and is currently performing in London. It sounded fascinating, I must try and go.

The radio show is at

Tickets are avaialable from the St James Theatre -

Sunday, June 05, 2016

A man entire

I listened to David Nott, probably the world’s most experienced war surgeon, on Desert Island Discs as I drove back from Cardiff to London today.

During the past 20 years, he has taken unpaid leave from his NHS work to provide medical assistance all around the world. The list of places he has visited reads like a summary of troubled conflict zones in the 21st century – Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Darfur, Haiti, Gaza and Syria all feature.

He was born in Carmarthen. His father, who was half Indian and half Burmese, was an orthopaedic surgeon and his Welsh moth was a nurse.

What an admirable and inspirational man, I am happy to claim him as a Welsh Born Icon.

Listen to the show here.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Chaz Royal's Burlesque Ball

I am back in Cardiff, and pleased to see that there is Burlesque on just down the road in the Globe tonight. I wonder if I can persuade Mum and Dad to take it in.

Less whimsically, I see that Robben Ford is there on Wednesday 13 July. A member of the L.A. Express who has collaborated with Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell, George Harrison, Larry Carlton and Kiss among others, he was named one of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century" by Musician magazine, and is particularly cherished by me as I had a teach yourself blues guitar cassette tape based course by him back in the day. If you ever see me busking the blues, he is the man to blame.

I can't see me getting to Cardiff on a school night, but he is playing in London on the Monday of that week as well.

Friday, June 03, 2016


The dashboard instrument cluster on my Ford Focus seems to have given up the ghost this morning. The speedometer and the rev counter are stuck at zero, while the temperature and fuel gauges are both steady in the middle of their ranges, and the LCD mileometer is completely blank.

I need to drive down to Cardiff after work; tiresome doesn't begin to cover it. I will just have to fill up with petrol, download a speedometer app for my mobile phone, and put myself in the lap of the gods.

Ditto on the way back, Sunday.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Saturday 11 June, 2016

New Zealand v Wales 08:35
Australia v England 11:00
South Africa v Ireland 16:00

Rutlish Raiders v Sussex Merlins 11:00

Wales v Slovakia 17:00
England v Russia 20:00

Some schedule eh? My brother John is coming up to London to watch the first New Zealand test. If, as planned, we do that in the Charles Holden and feel honour bound to cross the landlord's palm with silver before the sun is over the yardarm, the day could well acquire a momentum of its own, what with so much going on in the run up to Wales' Slovakia game at five. With any luck though, getting out in the fresh air at eleven to see the U15s at Lavender Park will save us from a twelve hour bender.

“You better take care of me Lord, if you don't you're gonna have me on your hands.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

It was acceptable in the 80s

Tickets available from; chances of Ben fancying  coming along - 0%.