bookmark_borderOlympic PMA

The Olympics are over, and whilst we wait for the Paralympics to start, I think it’s fair to say that the Olympics were a much bigger event than I realised. I’m sure the successes of Team GB contributed but even without that, the coverage by the BBC, and the overall feeling of euphoria and pride that built from that amazing opening ceremony was genuinely moving.

It was a funny thing, watching that opening ceremony and finding myself hugely moved by it and then to find those emotions carried through whilst watching the events. Whether cheering on cyclists, swimmers, runners, jumpers or people shooting things, I found myself bought in to the whole concept of Team GB. Most odd.

But good!

The one thing I’m taking away from the Olympics, is that it showed that we can do great things, that the great British approach of “ach we are alright I guess” CAN be “We are AWESOME!”.

I’ve spoken before about focussing on positives, and keeping clear of negativity wherever I can, and this is all proof positive of what it can achieve. Of course all the competitors train hard, are dedicated and will push themselves, but hearing the members of Team GB thank the crowds for spurring them on suggests there was more to it than just training.

Someone I work with, when asked how he is doing, will always say “I’m great!” or “I’m fantastic!” and whilst he may be feigning those emotions, I’ve started trying it myself (although with words like “good”, I’m not quite ready to say I’m fantastic yet) and it works. A little bit of PMA (positive mental attitude) goes a long way it seems.

I enjoyed the Olympics immensely, I always do being a bit of a sport nut. I like seeing sports you don’t see much coverage of getting the spotlight, I like those special moments that bring a sporting victory into sharp relief (c’mon, who didn’t shed a tear at the story of Gemma Gibbons looking heaven-ward and saying “love you Mum”), I like the underdogs take part knowing they won’t win but can say they competed at the Olympics.

I’ve also been a little saddened that the disparity between men and women still exists, that amidst all the fervour there were moments of tragedy, and that even as the closing ceremony reached its end, the view seemed to be that we would return to previous values of ‘good enough’.

The stories make such a big part of the events, it’s not just about a piece of metal for so many of the competitors, it is about a life event, the completion of a long hard journey. Just being an Olympics competitor is an achievement few people will experience and that to me is a great message to take from watching some of these people.

You don’t have to be the best of the best to achieve, as long as you are pushing yourself and doing the best you can, you are already ahead of the game.

The Olympics continue to conflict and amaze but I bloody love them!


Random thoughts of a Sunday morning.

And yes, I’m sitting waiting to get through to buy my ticket for Glastonbury next year. No, the website won’t load, yes the phone line is constantly engaged.

You know you are bad at packing when you have several open ‘I’ll-just-take-them-in-the-car’ boxes.

Anyone else on WordPress seeing a lot more spam in their comments? Thank the lord for Akismet! By the way, does anyone pay for that? Is it like Xmarks, something you’d pay for but don’t?

Speaking of which, if you use Xmarks and want to, maybe, see if you paying for it would keep it going (it’s folding up), then go read this!

Sorting through boxes that have been unopened and in your loft for several years isn’t all that fun. The reality of what is happening is writ large in the memories we will always share.

I need to buy a new kettle. Must remember to write that down somewhere.

Music wise I seem stuck in a bit of a BBC Radio 6 place, all new bands, luscious sounds and the odd blast from the past. Where did all the rock music go?

Quite excited to go to Glastonbury next year though, never been and will need advice on what to take and what NOT to take. Also where the feck to sleep, in a tent? Off-site somewhere? And, of course, there will be endless rounds of “right, I’ll go and see them and then head there to see her, and then I’ll… ohh, wait no. I’ll go and see him, and then her, then I’ll go there to see… no… right. OK, this time… I’ll start here and…”

The cat likes boxes. Specifically, sleeping in them. Specifically, one that almost got taped shut as I presumed from the weight that it was as full as it could be.

You know how I have that other blog, well I wondered why I hadn’t had any comments on it and realised I’d turned them off. Only thing is, I turned them back on but they don’t work. I’ve decided this is for a reason and I’m leaving them off.

It gets really boring sitting watching a website NOT load, hitting F5 over and over and over and over…

Ohhh and applications that popup a dialog and steal focus, with OK set as the default button so, when I’m typing and glance down at the keyboard, the dialog pops up just as I hit the spacebar… in other words, I don’t even see anything except a brief blip on the screen then something starts up, or shuts down. Yeah. I DO NOT LIKE THOSE!

I have a lot patience threshold. 45 minutes sitting waiting and I’m at the “you know, if it’s this bad getting tickets, what is it going to be like at the fucking thing? It’ll probably rain anyway… shall I even bother?”. Then I think of the alternatives… T in the Park, and decide, yeah, I’ll hang in there a bit longer. Note to T in the Park, up your prices! (in the hope of weeding out the dickheads).

Hmmmm yes, yes I am a snob. This fact doesn’t really bother me.

It’s amazing what you can achieve in one room whilst waiting on a website to load. That’s my little office ready to be moved.

And yes, this is what Twitter is like. Except those big long sentences obviously.

bookmark_borderClock watching

I woke at… well… I think it was about 6.30am on Sunday. I went downstairs, fed the cat, put some coffee on and made some breakfast before settling down to watch the Australian Grand Prix coverage. I was recording it because it started at 6 am, not a time I usually see on a Sunday morning, and so I could skip through the adverts (go on, admit it, you spent the first hour waiting for them too, didn’t you).

It was about 7 am when I sat down in front of the TV and pressed PLAY. As ever, the recording included a few minutes of the previous programme, BBC News 24. Viewers of that programme will know that part of the on-screen information, permanently in view, is a clock.

And they’d forgotten to change the time! The BBC!! Terrible! Honestly, what do I pay my license for if they can’t even remember to change a clock. What is this country coming to?! Look at it, 5.58am! It’s not!! It’s 6.58am ya numpties!



In my defense it was very early, and I hadn’t had any caffeine.

bookmark_borderJumping Twitter?

I’ve been Twittering for almost two years now and after being an early adopter who quickly turned naysayer, it’s now proving to be useful in a myriad of subtle and different ways.

It alerts me to breaking news (I heard of the Hudson River crash before anything featured on the BBC News website), provides movie, music and book recommendations, links to interesting websites and topics, and keeps me amused with that little touch of voyeuristic pleasure that is akin to sneak a peek into a living room window as you walk past.

I think it’s safe to say that, as Stephen Fry said last night, I get it.

I can’t recall the exact quote, nor who said it, but the true value of Twitter is only now being uncovered. The instant nature of the technology, the ease of use and forced brevity lend themselves to several different uses. Corporations are now looking at how they could use it internally, the marketers are trying to figure out how to leverage it, and everyone and their dog seems to be jumping on board.

Which brings me to the second quote that is now applicable to Twitter. It has, most definitely, jumped the shark (in the newer sense of the phrase). Anyone who has a Twitter account can probably sympathise here, with each day bringing a new ‘Follow’ request from a complete stranger (at best) to some company or other (at worst).

There has also, recently, been a spate of celebrities signing up. The good news is that they seem to ‘get it’ as well. The aforementioned Mr. Fry and Jonathan Ross both have Twitter accounts, personal accounts that is, not something created to help ‘market’ them. In the case of Jonathan Ross it’s been especially interesting to read his very personal thoughts as he returns to the TV screen. Time will tell how that will change of course.

Despite having hinted at it recently I’m not ditching Twitter, far from it. I will be locking things down a little more, and it’s likely I’ll start blocking people I don’t know, and thankfully whilst the Twitter website itself remains low in functionality, there are several Twitter clients out there which can help filter and manage what is, by nature, a high volume way of communicating.

I’m not entirely sure what the rising popularity of Twitter will bring but I am looking forward to finding out.

bookmark_borderWork that needs done

Turning the TV off I pause, considering the work that lies before me. I decide to have a coffee to get me started but, as I stand and start to walk to the kitchen, I realise that the clothes that were hung up a couple of nights ago will now be dry. I take my time folding them, sorting them into neat piles before taking them upstairs, ready to be put away.

I wander into the spare room and turn on the computer, watching the lights, listening to the whirrs and clicks as it readies itself for the day.

Bugger, I think, coffee.

Back downstairs and I fill the kettle and set it on to boil. That done I stand next to it with my hands flat on the work surface, staring through the rising cloud of steam. Out through the window I can see autumn leaves swirling and bumping their way to the ground, coaxed from branches by a lazy breeze. Thoughts of work nudge at the fringes of my mind but I ignore them.

The kettle announces itself with a loud click. I slowly fill my mug, stirring away the granules until there are none left. A dash of milk, a final stir and it’s ready. I lift the mug and slowly make my way upstairs, up towards the faint glow of the monitor, the heavy draw of work that needs done.

I set my mug down carefully and take a moment to shuffle some paperwork into a pile, making room for the work that needs done. That done I swivel in my chair and cast my eye round the room, a chair piled with clothes to my right, next to it an overflowing bin. A spark of electricity zips through my brain at this point and I turn the other way to the bookcase where my eyes quickly locate the roll of binbags I left there the last time I tidied up.

Getting up I rip a bag from the roll and empty the bin into it before wandering to the bathroom to empty the bin there, and again in the spare room. I leave the bin bag at the top of the stairs to remind myself to take it down later and return to the work that needs done.

A few streets away I can hear the buzz of power tools so I launch iTunes, sleepily watching the status bar complete it’s journey. I scroll randomly through the library, thinking that I really should clear some of it out, before alighting on a track I like. I reach over and turn the speakers up as the opening drum riff of Superstition ripples through the room.

To make sure I’m not interrupted I check my emails, check Twitter and have a quick look through some RSS feeds. I realise at this point I’ve not read any news today and load the BBC News website into my browser, spending further idle minutes reading about things that hold little interest. Out of the corner of my eye a printed document lies on the desk, work that needs done.

A noise from downstairs tells me the cat has returned home and soon he is at my feet, miaowing for attention whilst he rubs back and forth. I reach down and start scratching under his collar and with a loud purr he leans into my hand, eyes closed. After some time he wanders off, eager to find a good place to sleep.

I sit up straight in my chair and turn to face the monitor. I look down at the desk. On it is an empty mug and a printed document. There is work that needs done.

Another noise from downstairs as the postman delivers the latest bill. Without a second though I get up and wander downstairs to check.

On my desk sits a document. Work that needs done.

bookmark_borderWhy you should watch the Olympics

One reason I like the Olympics, especially now the BBC red button is so heavily used for additional coverage is the.. er.. additional coverage that all the sports receive. So far I’ve watched a little basketball, fencing, archery, canoe slalom, badminton, weightlifting, boxing, cycling, swimming, and diving. That’s all before the athletics have started.

I’ve watched tennis and football too but they get enough coverage (thankfully there isn’t an Olympic golf contest!).

There is one thing that the BBC remain good at, and I guess it’s largely down to their researchers, is building stories into each event, adding personal backdrops to the unfolding drama and, for me at least, helping to drag you into the excitement.

Add in some skilled commentators who understand that their audience might not understand the finer points of the given sport and it’s an excellent combination (if only they’d managed to shut up during the opening ceremony, where they managed to spoil two surprises).

An example, the men’s cycling road race. At about the halfway point there was a breakaway of 3 riders. Now I’ve watched enough Tour de France to know that breakaways are difficult and that the peloton (the chasing pack) usually reel them back in (strength in numbers and all that).

However the breakaway pulled out a 30 second gap and managed to hold it. With a third of the race to go 2 more riders broke out of the peloton to try and reel them back in before the finish. They managed to get about 15 seconds out from the peloton but couldn’t catch the leaders. Then, with the race entering the final quarter, the last few kilometres, a lone Swiss rider broke from the peloton.

Now, this is a one off event, 3 medals and that’s it. Why the peloton didn’t work harder to catch the leaders I don’t know (there is an element of teamwork at play here too, with the Spanish riders in the peloton probably holding back because they know they have one of the front 3 riders).

Back to the Swiss rider then, and all of a sudden he’s catching the first 2 breakaway riders and no sooner has he done that than he starts to drag them up to the front 3. The kilometres are ticking down, surely the front 3 can’t be caught … but wait! there they are, just up ahead…

By now I’m on the edge of my seat. One man has to work VERY hard to close such a gap, surely he won’t have enough left for the final few hundred metres to the finish line, uphill!

6 riders turn the final corner, up out of their seats, legs pumping hard, lungs burning, adrenalin flooding their veins as they realise they could win! The Russian rider breaks into a sprint, but surely he’s too early!! The hill continues, the other riders are weaving hard now, focussed, determined, they catch the now fading Russian and pass him, the Spaniard edges ahead, the line approaches… HE’S WON!!!!

But what of the Swiss? Does he get anything for his efforts? Any reward at all? I’m desperate to know, unsure if he was beaten into 4th or managed to earn 3rd place and a coveted medal… the tension is killing me, come on commentator!!

He did it, he got bronze!! WOO HOOOOO

OK, so maybe I get a little wrapped up in such things a little too easily but I appreciate the effort, the training, the techniques and strategies at play, and not just in cycling. The mental pressures are as tough as the physical ones at times, and for some this is a one time only chance, the pinnacle of their sport.

How can you NOT be dragged into such drama? How can you possibly flick idlly to Eastenders or Big Brother when there is REAL emotion, real guts and passion on display.

Honestly, if you aren’t watching the Olympics you are some weird kind of cretin. It’s not about sport, it’s about passion, commitment and desire. It’s about despair and pain, about winning, about competing, about focus and drive. Tears, laughter and joy, not medals. It’s about being alive.

Isn’t it?