Sunday, August 31, 2008

The bells, the bells

If I were to blast cacophonous music at excessively high volume from my flat, so that it disturbed my whole neighbourhood, then a) I'd be a twat, and b) I'd have my neighbours complaining and the police coming round pretty sharpish. Yet every Sunday morning at about 8.45 I have to put up with just that and there's nothing much I can do about it (other than try and bury my head under my bed covers), because the perpetrators are the local church. They have bells peeling for a good fifteen minutes every hour from 8.45 onwards. They don't even play a catchy tune, it's just random bell ringing, and it's very loud and very annoying. I think church bell ringing (other than on special occasions like weddings and such) is supposed to be a call to pray, but can't the faithful just get themselves alarm clocks so the rest of us can live, and sleep, in peace!?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There's been a murder!

[The title of this post should be read in the style of top Maryhill detective Taggart, with emphasis on both the r's in murder (see youtube for various crap examples).]

In the newly gentrified, up-and-coming, area of Glasgow called Ruchill (it's pretty much part of the west end now don't you know) a flavour it's past infamy still lives on in the form of murder most horrid (although in the past it was mainly car theft and petty vandalism apparently.) The reason that this is of note to me is that it happened on the street where I live, but being out of the country I've not had to deal with it first hand. This happened in broad daylight in the middle of the afternoon to, which makes it slightly more disturbing. Hopefully it'll be a one off occurrence and the area will be back to it's less murderous ways by the time I return next month.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Extracting blood from an airline

I eventually got round to contacting BA again about my compensation claim. I again received a very prompt reply saying that they've reviewed my situation, and are very sorry and all about what happened, but they're "unable to increase our offer to you". Well currently what they are offering me by way of compensation is nothing, so suggesting that they can't make an increase on nothing is a rather bizarre way of saying that they don't think I deserve anything! I'm not sure whether to continue pursuing this or not, but they're continued line that they hope that this decision "will not deter you from flying with us in the future" gets more annoying.


Yesterday was the second time I've celebrated my birthday in Hannover. The first time was back in 2003 when I was coming to a collaboration meeting here. That day involved such fun birthday activities as traveling through Heathrow airport, where I had a birthday pint and bought myself a digital camera as a birthday present, and spending the evening alone in a hotel room. So I had slightly higher hopes for yesterday's Hannoverian birthday experience, although being the ripe old age of 28 I didn't really expect it to be a major event. A large portion of my day was spent trying to stream Olympic coverage from the BBC website. Another chunk of time was spent in the gym. Both of these eclipsed the previous airport experience, so anything else was bonus. In the evening a select few of us went for dinner at the Bavarium Bavarian-style restaurant in town (I'd visited it several years before for its infamous "Mountain of meat" dish, which was indeed exactly what it said it was). Their kitchen was under renovation, so they had a smaller menu than usual that unfortunately didn't include any meat mountains. It was a nice place, with a pleasant beer garden, some rather camp waiters, and tasty food, but after being served we noticed other tables were getting given far larger plates of food that didn't seem to have been on our menus! I think that the locals were a bit more in the know about what to ask for, or else we'd just been shafted! This was followed by a drink in the old part of town, where we managed to take in some belly dancing and also stumbled across a whole square filled with people doing the tango. The night was finished off by the Earth, Sun and Moon getting into alignment and providing me with a partial lunar eclipse - they really shouldn't have, I mean it's just too much effort to go to for little-old-me's birthday.

If you want to be a record breaker

[I planned to post this last night, but didn't have an internet connection. It seems today even more medals have been forthcoming!]

I just saw a replay of the mens 100m final and was, along with everyone else I assume, blown away by Usain Bolt's performance. He just made it look so easy and got himself a new world record to boot. As soon as he got his head up from after the start he powered away from the rest of the field and looked so relaxed. He knew he'd won from about 40m into the race. It was an sublime performance to do so well whilst also making it look so natural, reminiscent of how Michael Johnson always seemed when he ran. He's also a relative novice 100m sprinter compared to the rest as this was only his ninth competitive 100m he'd run and he's only 21! Another thing about Bolt is that he seems like a nice guy compared to the general arrogance of most sprinters. Contrasting to Bolt was Asafa Powell who did what he has continually done in major finals, which is choke. He should have been pressing Bolt for the gold, but in the end didn't even medal.

As long as I'm talking Olympics I should mention the British team's excellent performance today. Firstly Rebecca Adlington in the pool has done us proud. Our mens rowing fours has kept up the almost impossibly high expectation that Redgrave and Pinsent have generated in the event by winning gold in an exciting race that required a very strong last few hundred metres to fight back against the Australians. In the velodrome Wiggins and Hoy also kept up the great form to give us a couple of golds. I think this weekend could be a good medal haul for us, but this is unlikely to continue through the week as our general Athletics team is still pretty weak.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One week in

I managed to miss the fact that the Championship season started last week, so only today did I find out the result of Watford's first game - a surely thrilling 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace. This started us off in 15th position on the table, which will hopefully be the lowest we get this season. Today sees us up against Charlton, who recently acquired former Watford winger Bouazza on loan from Fulham.

[Update: We beat Charlton 1-0 to take us to 9th in the table.]

The league that does start today is the Premier League, which also means the return of my favourite Saturday midday and Sunday night TV pleasures of Football Focus and MOTD2. I'll just have to see if I can watch these on iPlayer until I return from Germany as I need to get my fix of Chiles, Lawro, Dixon, Peacock, et al and hear their words of wisdom (although I think Chiles may be in Beijing for the Olympic coverage, so I might have to wait a bit for to hear his cheerful Brummie voice). I'll also need to check out any local Hannoverian pubs that show Premier League games, although I'm fairly sure that one of the Irish pubs in town will do.

Still on a football note I saw the start of the Bundesliga last night. The opening match was FC Bayern Munich vs Hamburger SV. This featured two former Tottenham favourites in the form of the teams managers - Jürgen Klinsmann for Bayern and Martin Jol for Hamburg. It seemed to be quite a lively game in the first half and finished with a 2-2 draw. The strangest thing about the whole thing though was that the opening ceremony featured a performance from former Britain's Got Talent winner Paul "not Pol Pot" Potts! Very bizarre!