Tag: <span>France</span>

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?

Sport

Gosh the football is good, isn’t it. Way better than a World Cup, not as long winded as an entire season and, a few games aside (I’m looking at you France), bloody top quality entertainment.

Apparently there are other things that can be watched on TV at the moment but, seriously, why would you? In saying that there is still plenty of other things currently vying for my attentions.

Friday night we are out for a quiet dinner to lightly celebrate Louise’s birthday.

Saturday morning we’ve both got appointments to see the dental hygienist (the price of paying for your dental care) and then we are off to visit Peggy. Except we aren’t REALLY visiting Peggy, we are all about the ickle fwuffy ducklings!!

Sunday is Louise’s birthday proper and no doubt some people will be popping in to tell her how old she now is and that it’s “all downhill from here”.

Zip through the next week (although there are a few changes happening at work just now, plenty of gossip and rumour, which is always fun) and on Friday I’ll be one of many thousands standing about at Glasgow Green in glorious sunshine listening to the best band in the world (well, they will be that day), and after the Radiohead gig, if I can still walk, I’ll catch up with some people from work to say goodbye to two work colleagues that are leaving.

There are a couple of things occupying my mind at the moment though, namely the fact that our Sky+ box failed to record a few things last week. And by a few games I mean the 4-1 game between Holland and France! It should be fixed now (turn it off and turn it on again) but I swear to god if I miss any more football I’ll… I’LL… well I’ll probably just phone up and order a new Sky HD box.

Life

In a desperate effort to gain some weird form of validation, I stole an idea for a blog post and begged my readers to ask me a question. And they did. The buggers. Now I have to answer them.

Question 6: mike, from whom I ‘borrowed’ the idea behind these posts, asked me to give “Five Things The Scottish Could Learn From The English, and Five Things The English Could Learn From The Scottish”. Alas I’ve left this one too late to include “How to beat France at football” in my list but, hey, I thought I’d mention it again.

Now, with such tight constraints I’ll obviously have to aim my sights on the stereotypes of both nations and, just so we are all “singing from the same hymn sheet” (ohh god, shoot me now!), we’ll agree that the English are arrogant and selfish and that us Scots are friendly and generous.

What?!

The one thing that holds this post back from being a simple couple of lists, apart from my tendencies to over-think these things, is that there are certain traits that are considered “British”. The unwillingness to complain (or, more accurately, the dislike of ‘making a scene’), the constant apologies for things that aren’t our fault (yes, I too apologise when someone else steps on MY foot) and the drinking of tea to cure all ills.. that kind of thing, all “British” traits.

So I’ve had to look pretty deep into the psyche of both countries, and the following is taken from personal experience of having lived “dahn sarf” for a couple of years. A Scot amongst men you might say…

Five Things The Scottish Could Learn From The English

  1. Confidence – We revel in being the underdog and, for the most part, it serves us well. We are a nation of infrequent over-achievers and yes, I’m going to mention beating France at football again.
  2. Being Gay – you get Stephen Fry, we get those two twats from daytime DIY programs (Craig and.. thingy)
  3. Pubs – one glaring difference in the attitude towards the pub. In Scotland a pub is for drinking in, a place to get away and meet some acquaintances. In England the local has a much more ‘family’ feel to it. Not a bad thing, every community needs a centre… ok, so maybe a pub isn’t the BEST place but it’s a start.
  4. Sundays – Sunday lunch, a quiet day with few shops open. Yes it DOES make a difference.
  5. Nope… I’m out… anyone??

Five Things The English Could Learn From The Scottish
Only five? Really?? Damn, this is much easier than… yeah, you get it.

  1. Humility – confidence is one thing but it too frequently spills over into arrogance and that’s not a very nice trait. Whilst it does begin to grate when you are STILL celebrating winning the World Cup over 40 fuckin’ years ago.
  2. Square sausage – if you know, you know. If you don’t, get some!
  3. How to drink – or more accurately, why allowing pubs to stay open longer STOPS everyone cramming as much alcohol down their necks on a Friday night before the pubs shut. Up here we are much more civilised about it.
  4. Kilts – they are NOT skirts. You know that feeling when you put on your best suit, multiply that by ten when you’ve got some tartan swinging round yer knees!
  5. How to talk proper like – there is a reason why the more tempered Scottish lilt is rated as one of the nicer accents in the world. Plus we actually make an effort to pronounce all the letters in a word.

Contentious? Possibly, so feel free to suggest others, I very much doubt that this is an exhaustive list, and I very much doubt that broad agreement will ever be reached anyway. You sassenachs are an argumentative bunch…

Comments closed

1. Being linked from Dooce brings in a few extra hits. A few being something around the “60” mark, and certainly not as many as I would’ve thought… however the link was in her sidebar, not from the main content. I’ve had a similar number of ‘referrers’ from Reluctant Nomad (to whom I placed the link that Dooce linked to in the first place… if that makes sense).

2. My Google pagerank is 6, not 7 as I previously thought. Apologies to those who, when I mentioned the erroneous figure on Saturday, voiced their incredulity. I am sincerely sorry for wasting your incredulity, something which should be kept for REALLY incredible things… like Scotland beating France. Have I mentioned that?

3. Scotland beat France at football. Admittedly France did have the ball in our net a couple of times, but they were cheating, and we are the best team in the world. Or something. I don’t really care. We beat France. England couldn’t even beat that part-time team from Burger King.. um.. McDonalds… or wherever it was.

4. I did not watch Robin Hood. I will not watch Robin Hood. I have an irrational dislike of “popular” TV, this may be why I don’t understand all the fuss about that sci-fi programme that was on a while back, you know, the one with the dodgy production values and ‘star guests’ as baddies. Doctor How.

5. Still jogging. Sunday was harder than normal but then I don’t normally spend several hours in the pub on a Saturday, stumbling from bed 20 minutes before you are due to start probably isn’t advised either. Thankfully it was still the first week of the new block (of ten weeks) and the actual running time was low. Not so on Wednesday.

6.
Why the FUCK does it take 10 days to “process a form”. I’m adding Louise to my bank account as we don’t have a joint account. This hasn’t been an issue in the past but is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now and as the dribble of extra funds that we now have owed to us after the re-mortgage (which is almost complete, just waiting on first payment date) was presented to us via a cross cheque made out to, yes that’s right “Mr. Gordon McLean and Mrs. Louise McLean”… well our need to have an account that both of us can access suddenly leapt up the priority list.

Yes, I should have done something about this beforehand. Yet that still doesn’t explain why, having gone to the bank on Saturday morning with twenty-zillion different forms of ID for both of us, having completed the required form in triplicate, signing the form in our own blood, and providing DNA samples from the back of our eyelids, they still want to take 10 days to process the form. When I asked why the not-so-helpful wan… er.. assistant said that he wasn’t entirely sure but it had to go to the “central processing office”.

When I asked, with some vehemence, that that didn’t really explain why it would take so long he replied: “Well, I’m not exactly sure where it is but I think it’s somewhere south of the Quatanga Nebula, and hey, those little froolongs only have two fingers so maybe you should cut them some slack”.

Bemused and slightly befuddled I left the bank.

7. Thanks to all who left questions (well nearly all, some of you buggers just LOVE to be contrary). I’ll be tackling them over the coming weeks, and maybe keep a few back for the end of the month as we’re away to Spain for a sneaky week in the sun.

8. WE BEAT FRANCE. Sorry, this may take some time to sink in.

9. There is a possibility that I’ve fabricated one of the above items, part of it at least. However it’s quite subtle and I doubt many of you will spot it, but I thought I’d best be honest about it. There are parts that I made up.

10. I don’t really have something to add here but, well, by the time you get to 8 you sorta havta keep going to 10, right? You certainly can’t finish at least at 9, that’d never work. There are no “Top 9” lists (although maybe there should be?).

Life Work

Comments closed

Despite being a little lacking in the “atmosphere” you get from a busy pub, the blogmeet went well. Thanks to everyone for coming along and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Double bonus with the football score!

As ever the time fairly zipped along and before you know it the streetlights are on and it’s dark outside. Never fails to amaze me that, the loss of four or five hours in the blink of an eye, maybe it was the Budvar… hmmm… A couple of new faces at this one, so thanks to Patrick and Peggy for coming along, and of course there are now a few “familiars”. Mind you one person had the affrontery to slope off halfway through the afternoon!!

I’ll let him off as he was heading to Hampden to watch Scotland beat France! Did I mention that already? You do know that means we are now the best team in the world (a conclusion we arrived it when Neil returned from the game, although I’ll spare you the logic… ). Ummm, enough of the football.

Amongst some SHOCKINGLY bad pool playing (don’t worry, Will and Richard L, I won’t tell anyone who it was) the conversation veered across the usual bizarre myriad of topics, Pitney, adverts on blogs, the obligatory camera porn discussions, recipes, reading habits, travel wishes and on and on and on. What a fascinating bunch of people us bloggers are!

Photos have already begun to appear, and a quick “thanks again” to the following people because, let’s face it, if no-one had turned up it’d just have been me, sitting on my own, reading the paper:

There was even a brief guest appearance by my wife, I hope everyone felt suitably honoured! 😉

Next one will be in Edinburgh, sometime in the Spring.

Blogging

Comments closed

In a pattern that may well be repeated in the following few days, I’m not here.

I’m outside. In the sun. Frying to a crisp… where DID we put those bottles of sun cream from last year? And why oh why oh why can I never ever ever mention sun cream without thinking about Sunscreem?

Anyway, I’ve got plans for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon/evening/wee small hours of the morning, and most of Sunday (the hangover bit after Saturday) so I’m gonna get out into the sun whilst it’s here.

And you know what’s even more annoying about today in particular? The fact that I’ve been working at home and my wireless connection decide to die on me!! I’ve been stuck inside all flippin’ day.. rubbish.

Mind you, I’m back in the office tomorrow and Friday, sitting inside our air-conditioned office, gazing at the buildings as the sun bounces around the windows… meh. Not that it’ll be cool in our office, as our air-conditioning seems to be, like the heaters on the train, incapable of either being turned off or being switched to cool air.

Still, roll on Friday. We’re having a World Cup day in the office, beer pizza and the opening ceremony and games.. which reminds me. I must dig out my France top.

Comments closed

Didn’t venture over the door yesterday, not even to put the bins out. Awful weather, cold wind, driving rain, yeuch.

So we stayed in, Louise made some cards, I hacked on with a mockup of a site (one of two on the go at the moment), and gave a little more thought to the seminar on Blogging and Communities I’ve been asked to present at. The initial nerves have subsided and whilst previously I’d been worrying that I wouldn’t be able to fill the 45 minute slot, my main concern now is that 45 minutes may not be long enough!!

Ohh and lest I forget, I’d like to thank mike for his generous help, very much appreciated indeed. I may already have thanked him but if that’s the case, better to thank twice than not at all!

Louise made a very interesting comment the other night, concerning my current employers. She said that I must be enjoying things there because I was working later than usual. And she’s right. Partly because we have a new toy in our department – AuthorIT, a single source publishing tool – and partly because I’m finally getting into the new (upcoming) version of our core product and actually learning new things. Previously I’d been ‘stuck’ on updates to the current, released, products which was proving less than challenging, and more than boring. All’s good now though, our new stuff is bloody smart… but enough of that. I don’t talk about that here!

Rugby yesterday and I thought the Italians were going to do it… until England clicked up a gear and predictability returned. However the game itself wasn’t particularly enthralling, unlike the try-fest that was France vs Ireland. I’m so glad I watched the second half though, as the first half was awful and at times made it hard to believe this was international rugby I was watching.

It’s all looking nicely setup for what could be the deciding game of the tournament – France vs England. Hard one to call for, as ever, if the French get their running game going early then I think England will be in trouble as they are still a little too reliant on their front rows. Then again Wales showed that if you try and go around the front rows, England just drop back and offer a sold white line through which it’s bloody hard to break. Intriguing though it may sound, I’d be less than surprised if the game itself is a boring kick-a-thon. Isn’t it always the way?

Well a long week stretches ahead of me, I’m hoping to get a couple of things out of the road as soon as possible as I’m currently breaking my own rule of “one job at a time”. On the other hand there are opportunities to which you just can’t say no, it’s just unfortunate they’ve all come at the one time. Not that I’m complaining. Honest.

How’s your weekend?

UPDATE: What a cracking game of rugby, open, free-flowing and full of passion. Well done to Wales for a professional performance and well done to the Scotland team for playing with such heart and passion.

Life

Comments closed

We have some empty picture frames lying around, and we’d like to put some photos of our friends and family in them. This poses a slight problem though as we don’t have any photos that we like.

I did a little research last night, and as we are getting together with our friends at the weekend it’s a great opportunity to practise taking “informal or candid portraits” or, as I prefer to call them, “taking 300 pictures of people when they aren’t looking”. The trouble is the minute you take your camera out everyone spots it and they all become very self-aware, rendering candidity a nonsense.

About 15 years ago (oh my god, is it really…), when we (my family) were on holiday in France we met up with some friends of my parents. Ohh and before I go any further I’ll state that this post is up for correction if my Mum or Dad drop by, slightly hazy on some of the facts.

Anyway, my parents had known Pascal and Maryline (sp?) for many years, and I’d met them some years before (including a hairy car journey with Pascal in a VW camper van doing 90mph down a B road… or at least that’s what it seemed like. What IS IT with continental drivers?). Pascal is a teacher and photographer who has had some work published – postcards and the like. One hot summer evening in Brittany, sitting in the campsite as the sun began to set, we scoffed down barbequed food and sat talking and laughing – I was at the age where talking with the “adults” was turning out to be fun, who knew!.

Pascal had his camera bag with him, and as we were all talking, he took out his very large and foreboding looking SLR and started changing settings, clicking quick test photos of nothing in particular (I presumed). Next thing I know I hear a click and he looks up from behind his camera, grinning at me. He’d completely fooled me into thinking that he was just checking his equipment* and I hadn’t even noticed him point the camera in my direction.

If I can find the photo he took I’ll scan it in, suffice to say it’s very natural looking (and proves that I did once have hair… when I was 15…). Looking back to that day, it’s that kind of anonymity that I’ll need if I want to take the kind of photos we’d like. The trouble is, and this is particularly so with my friends, I’m not really the type to sit in the background and try to be invisible. I’ve still to figure out a way around that particular, and very personal, issue but I have a few thoughts – I could pretend I’m in the huff maybe??

I’ll probably resort to the old “place the camera on the table, tilt it slightly and start clicking” method. Much more luck than judgement that one but might be worth a shot (pun intended). That’ll be fine in the pub, but I’ll need another tactic for when we go to the cinema… ohh slight flaw there, dammit. Mind you there will be dinner after that, and possibly more drinks in a rather grand old building for which it’d be good to take my camera anyway.

So, any tips or suggestions? Should I wait until after dinner when everyone is happy and relaxed (tipsy)? Or should I pretend to take some photos all day but only take a few now and then, thereby diminishing the “ohh crap, he’s got the camera out again” factor.

My mate Keith is a pretty good photographer too, well when I say good I mean he knows what all those technical terms mean and understands the basics better than I do, so I’ll be asking him on Friday night for some pointers. I also know several very good photographers read this nonsense so now is your time to shine, let us mere point-and-click minions feel the warmth of your knowledge. G’wan, gie’s a tip or two.

Candid photos – how best to achieve them. Suggestions in the comment box please.

* One problem when discussing cameras is the innuendo-laden prose I find myself reverting to, it’s purely coincidental. Honest.

Photos

Comments closed