Friday, June 30, 2006

30/06/06 The Business End of the World Cup!

I was listening to a Portuguese journalist on the radio today.
He was reading out World Cup related headlines from Portuguese newspapers in the run up to the match vs England.
One was ;
"Would you like a cup of tea? Be afraid!"
I think this is possibly the greatest newspaper headline ever. It's got a great surreal feel to it.

I couldn't make up my mind about quarter final bets.
I've ended up laying against Italy, ie if it's a draw or Ukraine are winning after 90 minutes, then I win.
That's my last bet in this World Cup.
I just want the remaining matches to be entertaining and full of thrills and spills. I don't really mind who wins and therefore won't be making any bets on them.
It's rather annoying that it is pissing with rain in Edinburgh whilst the rest of the UK is bathed in sunshine.
I was laughing at Harry Pearson in the Guardian yesterday.
He was advocating that English use a traditional UK Primary school 1-9-1 formation,
(preferably with a "running goalie")
The 9 man midfiled would swarm around the ball not giving the opposition a chance, whilst the "Poacher" would chat to the opposition goalie, and put him off by goofing around.
It's a genius idea and would play to the strengths of our domestic game.
It's amazing how fickle the world of football is though.
If England win on Saturday and make the semi-finals, Eriksson could claim that his tenure has been successful as he has taken England further in the World Cup than they have been since 1990.
If they lose, he will be mercilessly savaged and ripped apart like a cornered fox.
A lot of people are talking about how Scolari always outmanoeuvres Eriksson, citing the meeting between England and Portugal in Euro 2004.
People seem to fail to remember that the match ended in a 2-2 draw (with England having a late winner controversially disallowed), with Portugal winning the penalty shoot-out.
When the match is referred to by the press, you'd be mistaken for presuming England lost 5-0.
Anyway, this is now a day later.
Italy beat Ukraine comfortably.
I finish week 3 £190 in the red.
The overall World Cup position is £598.07 in profit.
There's always a temptation to put everything on one team to win the World Cup, but I won't because I'm not (that) stupid.
That's the instinct that bookies love, ie the irrational desire to give all your winnings staright back.
I really enjoyed Germany v Argentina.
That was a proper World Cup football match.
Not too many goalmouth incidents, but a completely enthralling spectacle.
And once again, the undisputed "best team" of the World Cup is going home.
Poor substitutions by the Argentine coach cost them the match.
Again, I'd say that's a great result for England.
I couldn't have seen them getting past Argentina, but an England v Germany game could go either way.
On a non-World Cup note, Mitch's young son Jem broke up the tedium of viewing last week's England v Ecuador tie, by rushing into the living room and loudly exclaiming, "I did a wee and a poo at the same time!!!!", and then insisting his mum comes along to witness the evidence of this splendid achievement.
I look forward to reminding Jem of this event in 15 years time when he's sitting playing compressed digivariant music in his bedroom with his trendy mates.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

28/06/06 It IS all over...!

ENGLAND 2006 World Champions...!

I've got this picture in my head of the top English commentators spending hour after hour racking their brains for an appropriately, iconic phrase to utter in the event of England winning the World Cup.
They must fantasise about coming up with another "They think it's all over..." Kenneth Wolstenholme special which will guarantee their commentary immortality.
They've each probably filled up many bins with scrumpled up bits of paper with rejected ideas on them.
There would be an obvious temptation to present an abridged version of Wolstenholme's commentary...
"Well, it now most certainly IS ALL OVER, and England are again football's World Champions!"...but that's a fairly easy option and not particularly memorable.
The lyrics of "3 Lions" could be appropriated to some degree...
"Well after 40 years of hurt, we've never stopped dreaming, and the dream has now become a reality! England are World Champions for the 2006 FIFA World Cup!"
Maybe a homage to previous heroes...
"And Sir Alf Ramsay will be looking down on this with a smile on his face as the referee blows his whistle to signal that England, yes England, at last, are World Champions..!"
Arise "Sir Sven...!"
I'd imagine Sir Geoff Hurst might have mixed feelings about it, as he's likely to be asked less often "Did the ball really cross the line?" and bore us for another 40 years on his 1966 memoirs.
His projected earnings will slump somewhat, and I suspect he will open less village fetes in 2007 that he has in any other year since 1966.
See, there's always a downside isn't there?
Theo Walcott OBE! Now that would be quite funny because they'd have to give the whole squad an honour.
I suspect he won't have kicked a ball in anger at the finals before he receives the award.
In fact, he hasn't kicked a ball in anger in the Premiership yet, so this would be a remarkable achievement for him.
It wasn't really fair that only a select few from the 1966 squad were honoured.
There'll be a huge reception at Downing Street with Tony Blair relentlessly milking the feelgood factor.
See, it wouldn't be all that bad.
I can't understand why more Scots people aren't so keen for England to do it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

26/06/06 PC Reunion

Revealed! The secrets of the cardboard robot...!

Padraig Hyland ,of last year's smash hit Fringe show "Park's Circus", was headlining at The Stand in Edinburgh on Monday.
He had a good night and a few late night drinks followed, followed by a very sore head for yours truly the next morning.
Also there was Pauline who stayed in the same flat as me in Bellevue Road in the 80s.
This was an interesting coincidence as 2 nights prior to this I'd bumped into Katy who'd stayed in the same flat before we moved in.
"Quite remarkable!" as David Coleman might say before he started badly slurring his speech.
Pauline is a good friend with the powers-that-be at The Stand, so it's inevitable that they will soon be furnished with interesting anecdotes such as her flatmates' penchant at that time to take turns wearing a cardboard box with a face painted on it, and cavort in front of the late night traffic.
Mind you, this might help my comedy career, and raise my "wacky" quotient.
I was gutted at Italy's last second penalty winner against Australia.
First of all it cost me money, as I'd gone for a draw...
Secondly, it wasn't even a bleeding penalty and the referee was artfully conned by these masters of chicanery!
Overall though Italy did show flashes of brilliance, and they were hampered by a dubious sending off ; so they probably just about deserved to get through.
The bad news is that for Week 3 of the World Cup I am down £130.
I'm studying the quarter final draw.
I'm finding it tricky finding value betting amongst the ties though.
I've a feeling England will beat Portugal (you can get evens on this), and interestingly, Germany are favourites to beat Argentina.
It's a brave bet to go against Germany after watching them steamroller Sweden, however Argentina will test their defence in a way that has not happened in any of their previous matches. Hmmm....
I went to see Scotland play Pakistan at cricket yesterday.
It's a very genteel and civilised way to spend a few hours basking in the sunshine...
The gentle knock of leather on willow etc
Someone was walking around dressed up as a pint of beer.
You had to say to him "I'm due a Deuchars!" and he would give you a free beer token.
That's not something you see every day.
The PA announcer asked if "Dorothy Martin could phone home as her daughter has news of her impending grandchild"
I made a joke about the baby being still "not out", and one or two people in the packed grandstand chuckled quietly to themselves... get in...!!!! :-)

Monday, June 26, 2006

25/06/06 Paul Dance is 40!

It's the morning after the night before and Paul announces he is suffering from a sore head...!

There was a big party to mark this prestigious event in the village hall of Temple, out in darkest Midlothian.
It was the culmination of a busy weekend, as the night before I entertained the Pereira Hind family who were up from London.
I made some curry and stuff and Bob remarked it was "The best curry that he'd ever tasted in his life!".
He was a bit pissed, but that's beside the point...
At Paul's bash, good food, great live music and a tsunami of cheery banter were the order of the day.
I had the great honour of being asked to MC and introduce the acts onstage.
I also used the opportunity to make a series of weak jokes...!
Doc Morrisey smilingly said "I say you've been losing lots of money betting...!"
This again illustrated his unrivalled capacity to delight in others' misfortune.
He'd obviously scanned the blog only looking for losing bets, but had failed to grasp that my overall World Cup position is over £700 in profit..! Hah!
I've got this image of someone wandering into his surgery with his leg hanging off, and Doc laughs, claps his hands and goes "Woo Hoo! That's a cracker! How'd you do THAT?? Ha Ha..!!"
Then Humph said to Mark "You haven't changed in the 20 years I've known you!"
Mitch thought Humph was talking to ME and guffawed at Humph "Are you on crack cocaine????"
I'm not sure what point he was making.
It was all going off!
I then introduced the well fired funk of "The Cakes".
They were playing together for the first time in 12 years.
I "hilariously" remarked that a lot of cakes had obviously been consumed in the intervening period.
They sounded great and I suspect that a few more comeback gigs will be in the offing.
I haven't changed at all in 20 years and obviously bathe daily in a magical fountain of youth.
I've no idea what he was getting at.
The boy's a fool...
So England won, (yes that's a £30 loss David!), but again failed to impress.
By my reckoning, England have been involved in 4 out of 5 the worst, dreariest games
of this World Cup, (the only non-England game being France v Switzerland).
They now have a great chance of getting past Portugal Reserves next Saturday, and into the semi-final where they may meet Brazil.
However, I have a feeling Brazil may slip up somewhere along the line, allowing England an achievable passage into the final itself.
It's a funny old game indeed!
Germany v England final?

Friday, June 23, 2006

22/06/06 Back of the Net!

Mexico once again cocked a snook at my faith in them.
I had a bet on them not to lose to Portugal which they did!
They even missed a penalty just to rub it in.
And when I say miss...I mean row Z...!
I then started watched Ivory Coast v Serbia.
Ivory Coast were losing 2-1 but were dominating the match.
I had a wager on them turning the match round in the second half at 5/1 odds.
This they did (3-2) and as a result I'm now in profit for week 2 to the tune of £144.20.
This takes my profit after 2 weeks to a grand total of £788.07.
I heard a footballer being interviewed on Radio 5 say ;
"Well the Germans like to take shots from outside the box, do you know what I mean?"
I DID know exactly what he meant.
I felt quite smug that I had intelligently comprehended his footballing related observation.
He then went on to make a plethora of further observations, again checking our understanding of the meaning of each statement.
I knew what he meant EVERY time.
I'm the cleverest of the clever obviously.
I felt like telling him "You don't need to keep asking me if you know what I mean..!
I know! I understand! I'm a gifted intellectual".
It is a bit of a waste of energy saying "Do you know what I mean?" at the end of every sentence.
I don't know if peple's vocal pronouncements contribute to raising carbon dioxide levels, but even if they don't, it causes needless irritation.
Let's save the planet...!
There is an Edinburgh equivalent of this.
It's an "eh?" at the end of a sentence.
"So I went to the pub and they weren't there yet, eh?"
"I've painted your front door, eh?"
I'm always confused by this...
I should say "Why are you asking me? I wasn't in the pub, and since you were the one who actually painted the door, why would you be asking me whether you did it or not. It doesn't make sense."
I've decided to bet against England winning over 90 minutes against Ecuador.
England are 3/1 ON to win in 90 minutes.
These odds are ridiculous in light on England's performance against Sweden.
They may well win, but there's very little downside in backing Ecuador at these odds.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

20/06/06 Ouch!

Recent picture of me playing football after recovering from injury.

I grimaced watching the slow motion replays of Michael Owen's injury.
I did exactly the same thing 6 years ago.
It's a case of losing balance, then falling with your knee twisted underneath you.
The pain was such that I nearly passed out.
I had ruptured my medial ligaments and was hobbling for 12 months afterwards.
I suspect Owen has suffered the same injury.
I remember that on repeated occasions afterwards, my kneecap was still a bit loose and would occasionally shift to one side, causing a bolt of pain roughly equivalent to someone swinging a sledge hammer and hitting me square on the foot with it.
My injury didn't get quite as much media coverage at the time, but to be honest I preferred it that way.
What a strange game last night.
England looked good and lively in the first half and took a deserved lead.
However, in the second half they turned in a horrible, lifeless performance and were
extremely fortunate overall to come away with a draw and avoid playing Germany on Saturday.
They must surely be the most unconvincing Group Winners in the history of the World Cup.

I'm almost starting to believe that they'll win it because everything seems to be going for them, and they've definitely got the less tough half of the draw in the knockout-section.
I put the bets on Paraguay to beat Trinidad & Tobago, and Poland to beat Costa Rica.
Both came good, and I am now only £41.75 down on week 2.
I was thinking it would be nice if sometimes the World Cup pundits got injured, eg
Ian Wright pulling up with a jaw strain midway through some pre-match analysis, then getting stretchered out of the studio.
The only pundit I find consistently informative (and funny) is Martin O'Neill. Pity he's not on more often.
And why didn't Sven give Theo Walcott a run-out last night for the last few minutes?
Very odd...!
I can't see him getting a game at all now...not unless England are leading 5-0 in the World Cup final with 10 minutes to go.

Monday, June 19, 2006

19/06/06 There's been a mistake...! I want my money back!

Week 2 in the World Cup has been a bit shaky on the betting front.
I had Mexico to beat Angola which they didn't do..the many chances as well!
I had Ivory Coast not to lose to Holland, which they did.
I had Iran not to lose to Portugal which they did.
I had Croatia to beat Japan which they didn't.
I had Australia not to lose to Brazil which they did.
On the plus side, Grace did get the boot from Big Brother (woo hoo!). Not strictly a World Cup bet I know...
I had USA not to lose to Italy, and they got a battling draw.
I also had South Korea not to lose to France and they got a battling draw as well.
I've been backing underdogs as the win odds on the favourites have been prohibitively short.
I'd say I've been fairly unluckly with the losing bets, as in none of the matches did the losing team seem completely out of it.
But, tragically for week 2 I am £191.55 down.
This means I have failed the task and am denied a luxury food budget this week.
Hopefully I can turn round the week's performance by Friday.
Here are some details about my upcoming Fringe Show
I am beginning to experience nocturnal anxiety attacks, but this is normal really.
I am hoping that fate conspires to produce a Germany v England tie in the last 16 knockout stage. That would be a belter.
It would be too close to call, but they're always enthralling matches.
I was speaking to my rival Haymarket comedian Richard Pulsford the other day.
He informed me that he'd seen another "Jim Park" at The Stand.
This could be confusing.
If he was brilliant though, promoters might mix us up and I would end up getting offered highly prestigious gigs, in a classic Shakespearian identity mix-up situation. On the other hand......

Friday, June 16, 2006

14/06/06 Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer's Day?

Here's s graph with a helpful guide to dry time in relation to air movement, to enhance your overall enjoyment of watching paint dry. Come on England!

Well, no, that's probably not the best analogy to describe the experience of watching England play in a World Cup match.
I had a think and decided that the experience can be best compared to watching a fat middle-aged man sitting on a toilet, with a puffy, red face, wearing a grimy vest and suffering from acute constipation, as well as having a a chesty cough, going "nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn...." for 90 minutes without success.
I think in terms of aesthetic appeal, this experience is on an obvious par with watching last night's encounter.
In fairness though, England have now qualified and have yet to concede a goal.
If this was Scotland we would be doing cartwheels in the street!
We're shit, so any old route to the second phase would be celebrated by much dancing (but mainly drinking) in the street.
It's just bizarre that for all their individual talent, England are unwatchable as a team.
They should be doing so, so much better.
I remember when Eriksson was appointed manager thinking that here was someone who might actually get England playing to their full potential.
The 5-1 victory over Germany seemed to confirm this.
However, since that remarkable result, they've reverted to the same old one-dimensional sterotype.
The introduction of Rooney did make them look far more potent, but he's still a good bit off the pace, and I think it's asking too much for him to single-handedly get England to the final.
Freddy Lundberg's late goal had me out of my seat and punching the air as my sole bet yesterday was on Sweden to beat Paraguay.
That's 6 bets out of 7 called correctly giving me a profit of £643.87 after Week 1 of the World Cup.
In "Weakest Link" style I have "banked" the cash and have given it to the Polish tradesmen who are working in my flat, (they've had a bad World Cup week, so hopefully the cash will soothe their furrowed brows a little).
Today, I am betting on the mighty Mexico to beat Angola, and will win £115 if/when Grace is booted out of the Big Brother house.
But gambling is still obviously the devil's work and should be discouraged wherever possible.
I played golf with Colin Crabby the other day.
After a bright start, I suffered my worst hay fever attack for many years, and as a result my game collapsed completely, resulting in a disastrous defeat.
At a rough estimate I guess I sneezed approximately 53,247 times during the round.
I had tears streaming down my face, puffed up eyes, a sore throat, and snot on draught....
Expect to see thousands of England fans with the same look after the first of the knock-out matches.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

13/06/06 The Brazilians' New Strip

Alan Hansen prepares his tactical analysis before last night's game.

I love Brazil, and all things Brazilian, but I like to think I can retain a teeny weeny element of objectivity when discussing their football team.
The BBC World Cup boys can't.
In the coverage of last night's match between Brazil and Croatia, they displayed the detached impartiality you'd expect from a group of spotty schoolboys being treated to a naked lapdance by Angelina Jolie, then being asked to compare her to Bella Emberg (best remembered as "Blunderwoman" in the "Russ Abbot's Madhouse" TV show).
In ther pre-match analysis Croatia didn't get a look in, and were afforded the attention normally given to the patsies contracted to play the Harlem Globetrotters.
"The Brazilians are Unbelievable, Charismatic, Talented bla bla bla" droned on Hansen as he wheeled out some new adjectives he'd been learning before he went on air.
Without a doubt Brazil were poor and Croatia were very unlucky not to get at least a draw.
It would also have to be said that referee was enormously charitable to Brazil throughout the match in terms of awarding them dodgy free kicks.
Scandalously, with Croatia pushing for an equaliser, only 3 minutes additional time was played.
I was expecting about 8 minutes.
In the second half, there had been several substitutions ; about 4 occasions where players needed treatment, and in addition play had been held up for a couple of minutes due to someone running onto the pitch from the crowd.
I suspect that if Brazil had been losing and chasing an equaliser, the referee would have been more generous.
John Motson opined in the closing stages that "Brazil are winning this with something to spare..!". What absolute tosh.
Anyway, I still hope Brazil play to their potential and win the World Cup, but please let's have some real debate rather than this toecurlingly fawning display by the experts.
They all seemed scared to even broach the subject of Ronaldo possibly being rather overweight.
The Brazilian fans were in no doubt....
"Are You Dave Reilly in disguise?" they sang at their hero as he gave an extremely lack-lustre performance.
And we have the first faller in Jim's World Cup betting.
I had France down to beat Switzerland. Pah!
France seemed to be appearing on a "Football Team" version of "Stars In Their Eyes".
There's Cat Deeley interviewing the team, and Thierre Henry says, "Ah yes, Cat. Tonight we are-uh going to be-uh "Albeeon Rovers"!"
Cue Wild applause, as the French team emerge from the smoke, dressed up as the Scottish lower league non-achievers and then take the field to play Switzerland in the 2006 World Cup...!
On a brighter note, I had Brazil down to beat Croatia.
As you were then...
No bets today.
Spain? too unpredictable. Although, in a sense, their very unpredictability is highly predictable.
I'm not going to be around to watch the Germany v Poland game tonight, but it would be fun to listen to the commentators tiptoeing around making any remarks alluding to the, ahem, "historic" context of this match.
"DON'T say "Germany are now blitzing Poland's defence!" (taken from John Motson's pre-match notes)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

11/06/06 Sticks and Stones

ITV Pundits Andy Townsend, Terry Venables and Ally McCoist share a joke before the match...

Well they certainly can break my bones, but to venture that "names can never hurt me" is a sadly misguided belief.
I was in attendance at a barbecue on Saturday and was informed that my smart casual jeans and short-sleeved shirt look reminded people of Alan Titchmarsh. Ouch!
My life has come to a sorry pass.
I watched the English match in a pub down Leith.
A very dull encounter.
England seem to have become the Wimbledon of International Football.
It's baffling. They have great individual players, but as a team they seem turgid and inflexible compared to others.
On the blackboard the pub proclaimed it was serving "Frankfurters".
Helpfully written in brackets below was "Big Hot Dogs!".
They possibly could have added ;
"Cocktails" (different drinks mixed together)
So England started quite poorly but got a win.
There does seem to be a definite script at work with England in the finals of tournaments.
There's the big pre-tournament hype. (We're Gonna Win The World Cup!")
Then there's the press backlash after an unimpressive opening performance.
("We're Not Going To Win The World Cup!")
Then England come out blazing, put in a great performance and lambast the media for their negativity.
("We're Going To Win The World Cup")
Then England put in another mediocre performance.
("We're Confused But We Still Might Win The World Cup!")
Then England play well but get knocked out.
("End of The World!")
It's fair to say that they looked the least impressive so far of the teams who could be said to have a genuine hope of lifting the trophy.
Argentina have stood out so far as the most complete team.
I really liked Mexico as well. They played some beautiful football.
However, I was irritated at the patronising attitude shown to them by the BBC pundits.
They're not taken seriously as they're not in the traditional group of heavyweight football nations. (Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Germany, Spain, England)
In a similar attitude, Greece have never really been given the respect they deserved for winning Euro 2004. It's just seen as a fluke, an aberration.
I'd love to see Mexico knock out a couple of the big boys.
It's interesting that the World Cup, unlike the Euro championships, has never really produced a shock winner.
This has to change sometime.
What people overlook is that the tournament is a "cup", not a league, and that the team who wins is not necessarily the best team in the tournament.
A problem Mexico do have is a vulnerability to the aerial threat.
As a fellow short-arse, I hope they can overcome this problem somehow.
A Mexican World Cup victory would be a great fillip to the global midget community.
The World Cup betting is going pretty well...
I've had 3 bets so far and they've all come in.
Mexico to beat Iran, Portugal to be ahead at HT and FT against Angola and Australia to beat Japan.
I also put a bet at the weekend on Grace to be the next person evicted from the Big Brother house (before she was officially nominated)...
She looks like a cert now...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

06/06/06 No Mean City

Bob "Malky" Ferris

So anyway, I was walking past this pub, and it became clear that something of an altercation was in progress. Two red faced, pissed women were being directed out of the pub by the bar staff for reasons unbeknownst to me.
It was all a bit shouty, and then one women marched off and banged into me as I walked past.
"Are you tryin' tae get me lifted?" she shouted at the barmen, as she walked away.
"I'll get Tam McGraw and Peter Ferris...I mean...Paul Ferris onto you...!
Tam McGraw and Paul Ferris are legendary Glasgow underword figures whom you may or may not have heard of. They're probably not the best people to get on the wrong side of, and I certainly won't use this Blog to make any critical remarks about them. As far as I am concerned they are fine, upstanding family men who have suffered a welter of unfair and prejudiced publicity.
The thing is, if you're going to use your aquaintance of these fellows as a threat, it loses something of its menace when you get the name of one of them wrong.
I had a quiet chuckle to myself as I walked past.
With hindsight, I wish I'd gone up to her and said "Don't you mean Bob Ferris? He was a character in "The Likely Lads"! I'm sure he could get his mate Terry to help as well. I'd have to say that it'd be a bit of a deviation from their usual storylines though, as it's generally Terry that finds himself in a dodgy situation which unwittingly involves the more sensible Bob, with hilarious consequences...and what's Thelma going to have to say about all this?"
At this point she probably would have said "Fuck off ya wee raj!" and hit me.
I was later walking around HMV and Virgin record shops in Princes Street.
They were deserted.
I reckon it's all over for these shops. They are now museums. They'll close within a year. The combination of hefty business rates on Princes Street and download culture will be too much for them to withstand.
Hopefully we'll get a couple of new burger bars, or maybe a couple of giant shops selling cheap tartan shite to a raucous soundtrack of House Scottish Country Dance muzak.
That would be brilliant.
Earlier today I walked past a man eating a pot noodle.
I thought to myself "that's something I've still never, ever done!"
Is it too late now?