Forum, singleness and graffiti, pt II

Ok, Part Two follows. Alyn Jones isn’t the kind of man you keep waiting. Alyn and his wife AJ have just announced they’re having a baby… Alyn bet you’re wishing there was a “Buy it Now” button à la ebay… only another 8 months to go mate, hang in there. Just for you and anyone else who found the second paragraph of my last post befuddling, the post ‘Ovalgate’ might help explain it.

Singleness. I’ve just recently finished reading a book on it – The Single Issue – which is excellent. In it the author explores what it means to be Christian and single, and develops what he calls a ‘practical theology of singleness’. This is much more interesting than it sounds 🙂 He encourages a view of singleness as equal to marriage, in that both have their advantages and disadvantages. He highlights the opportunities available to single people to travel freely and serve God without having to worry about their spouse or family, douses dreams of perfect romantic relationships with a large bucket of water, and revels in the freedom which having no children brings. He also observes that the church is generally more predisposed towards families, and in particular the ‘nuclear family’ which he considers misguided. He talks through the opportunities that a church singles group can bring, while acknowledging the pitfalls and problems associated with them. He himself heads up the singles group at his church.

I was so encouraged by reading the book that I considered writing to him to thank him. So I googled his name, Al Hsu, and up came his blog… complete with a soft focus photo of him, his wife and two children… the Nuclear Family no less… 🙂

What a betrayal. How could he?! Realistically, although this is mildly amusing, it doesn’t dilute the effect of his book at all. (I should probably point out that he was single when he wrote the book!) At no point does he denigrate marriage, he simply encourages a more positive view of singleness than us singles are liable to take left to our own devices. Well, I speak for myself. The book left me enormously encouraged and able to view my own singleness in a much more positive light than I have for years now. I’m sure you’re all delighted for me.

Someone who isn’t particularly delighted with me, for some reason, is the person who’s been leaving messages on my car windows. This began some time ago, when I arrived at my car one morning to find “I LUV U” on the passenger window, written with some unidentifiable substance. Not long after I’d washed that off, it was replaced with a four letter word that you wouldn’t describe as a term of endearment. I washed that off immediately, and just yesterday discovered my car with almost all the windows scribbled on. Bit less legible this time, but I think I made out a five letter term of non-endearment. Please don’t think too hard about these words… Anyway, suffice to say it’s growing a little tiresome. I don’t know whether it’s someone who actually knows me or just has taken a strong dislike to my car. In which case I’m grateful that they’re restricting themselves to plastering the remains of their kebab (or whatever it is) on my windows and not etching the words into the paintwork!

Time for bed. Alyn, let me know if there are any paragraphs here you don’t understand 😉


During England’s second innings of the 4th Test at the Oval, on 20 August, the following happened…

• The umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove confer and decide to change the ball that Pakistan are bowling with. England are awarded 5 penalty runs and the two batsmen at the crease get to choose a replacement ball. The only infringement of the Laws which could lead to all this happening is if the ball has been tampered with.

• Some brief history. Pakistan have been accused of, and sometimes found guilty of, ball-tampering in the past. Therefore they are rather sensitive to the issue. In addition, they have issues with Darrell Hair, who is a ‘no-nonsense’ Australian umpire. This is because he has called some of their bowlers for ‘chucking’ (illegal bowling) before. They have previously asked the ICC (the governing body) if they would mind not appointing Mr Hair to officiate in games involving themselves. The ICC refused, and in fact appointed him for four consecutive series involving Pakistan in one year.

• After the tea interval, the Pakistan team do not re-appear on the field. The umpires decide (within the Laws) that Pakistan have forfeited the game by refusing to play. After the umpires and the England batsmen have gone off the field, Pakistan’s captain Inzamam-ul-Haq leads his team back on to the field, but no-one else is there, so they troop off again.

• Play is abandoned, and eventually England are declared winners of the match due to Pakistan’s forfeiture. This is the first time in 129 years of Test matches that a game has been forfeited. Pakistan had been in a strong position in the match at the time it was abandoned.

• Pakistan are somewhat narked at Hair (and Doctrove) alluding that they’re cheats and various Pakistani cricketing dignitaries make noises about resigning, the subcontinental teams (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh) making a break from the ICC etc etc.

• The story makes the front page of two American newspapers, including the New York Times. This is possibly the most unlikely event of them all.

• Hair makes an ill-advised emailed approach to the ICC, offering to resign for a one-off payment of $500,000. The ICC describe it as ‘silly’ and make the emails public.

• On 28 September, Inzamam faces charges of ball-tampering (without a specific individual in the team being identified as culpable, the captain takes the rap) and bringing the game into disrepute (for keeping his team off the field). He is acquitted of ball-tampering but found guilty of the second (lesser) charge and banned for 4 One Day International matches.

• Pakistan are content with this verdict and decide not to appeal. However, they may press charges against Darrell Hair for bringing the game into disrepute himself…

• Darrell Hair is removed from his umpiring duties for the next major ICC tournament, the Champions Trophy, which starts next month in India. India had requested that he not officiate. For Hair the future is unclear. But he is bullish and upbeat, unusual behaviour for an Australian, as he has been throughout. He does not appear to suffer from low self-esteem.

• Excellent article on the current situation here

As I mentioned in another post, I think the judgement of the match referee yesterday was correct. I can’t see how ball-tampering could have taken place, but I do think Inzy was correctly punished for keeping his team off the field and causing the abandonment of the game. Such behaviour belongs in the playground, surely. No matter that Pakistan were aggrieved at the perceived injustice, it’s not like teams haven’t felt aggrieved at umpires’ decisions before, often with justification. Anarchy would reign if teams could on a whim decide not to take the field, and a lot of people pay a lot of money to see them play.

And that’s my view… hardly earth-shattering but there it is 🙂

Forum, singleness and graffiti, pt I

Whoa, it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. Consequently I have a lot to write about, although whether any of it is of any consequence is another matter. I’m sure you’ll let me know if it’s not…

So Forum came and went in a bit of a blur 2 weeks ago. It was a truly mad week. Arrived Sunday to find that some of the PA gear (including the mixing desk) had been nicked from the tent the night before. Set up as best we could given lack of mixing desk, power and staging (the latter 2 because of ancient by-law governing grounds where Forum’s held prohibiting any work to be done on Sundays…), drove into Wrexham Sunday night and collected hire gear to replace stolen stuff. Monday evening students arrive, first session goes off ok, Nathan & Lou Fellingham and Jos (their guitarist) arrive and demonstrate much grace before I get their in-ear mixes approximately right. After hours session goes off ok… crawl into bed.. get up early.. spend next 3 days trying to work out why sound in tent is terrible, crawling into bed late and getting up early. Empire Biscuit stash runs out Tuesday, and have to make subsequent sorties into local village shop to get chocolate for sustenance. By Friday morning sound is still terrible but recordings of the open mic night on Thursday prove to be semi-decent and so I leave with some sound engineering pride intact. But not much. Crawl into work Monday morning more exhausted than when I left… yep I’ll probably be back next year. Mugs like me don’t grow on trees y’know…

Those of you with your finger on the cricketing pulse will have noted that Inzamam-ul-Haq spent yesterday and today defending his honour (and, if you believe the rhetoric) that of the entire Pakistan nation in front of an ICC hearing in London. He was charged with ball-tampering (a murky, evil practice in the eyes of cricket’s administrators), and bringing the game into disrepute by refusing to bring his team on to the field after umpire Darrell Hair had penalised Pakistan for the same murky practice during the 4th Test at the Oval. Inzy was found guilty of the latter and innocent of the former. I happen to agree with this judgement – clearly, even as a former cricket captain of Bellevue, I have not been allowed to see the match ball in question, but the fact that none of Sky’s myriad cameras at the ground picked up on any malpractice by the Pakistani bowlers or fielders, and given that Hair would have been able to inspect the ball (as umpires always do at the fall of a wicket) a short time before he decided to change it and award 5 penalty runs to England, yet appeared not to have a problem with it at that point, make it unlikely in my view that the ball’s worn condition was due to tampering. For those of you without your fingers on the cricketing pulse and yet still reading, bowlers have been known to raise the seam of a cricket ball, or scratch it with bottle tops and the like, in order to make it deviate more in the air and off the pitch, and thus make it more likely to get the batsman out. This is ball-tampering. Now, whether a cricket match (particularly a Test match) is exciting or not depends heavily on the balance between bat and ball – e.g. if the bowlers are rendered ineffectual by a flat pitch then the batsmen will score mountains of runs, it will probably be fairly boring, and the game will most probably end in a draw. In order to actually win a Test match, a side has to bowl the opposition out twice – i.e. take 20 wickets. Personally I find cricket matches more enjoyable when the bowlers are marginally on top – by my reckoning this was the case for most of the Ashes series in 2005. Whether that was due to helpful conditions, great bowling, or lack of application from the batsmen is not clear. But it matters little. It was a great series, some say the best Test series ever. So my point is, why not let the bowlers modify the condition of the ball a little? There is a strong argument that says that all of the recent innovations in cricket have been to the advantage of the batsman. I am on the bowlers’ side in this one.

Still on cricket, sort of. Read a great article this week in the Telegraph. And another one in the Guardian, just to even things up politically. The last cricket side to visit Australia on tour was South Africa, earlier this year. The South Africans copped a fair bit of racial abuse from some of the Aussie supporters. In light of this, and in advance of the forthcoming Ashes series, Cricket Australia have been forced to consider whether the words “Pom” and “Pommies” could be deemed racist.. they have decided not. However, our genteel Australian counterparts “must avoid linking the P-word with anything “hurtful… racist, offensive or humiliating”. So “filthy Poms” will be considered unacceptable, but “whinging Poms”, and the outstanding phrase “dry as a Pommy’s bath-towel” presumably won’t…

Oh dear. I’ve only written about Forum so far before getting heavily distracted by cricket…. Part Two to follow!

Oh sweet Autumn

..with your dark surprise, and your short days all smudged with gold..

It’s September. It’s turned a little colder, I even had the heating on the other night, and the nights are fair drawin’ in. Autumn must be at least on its way, if not here already. And that’s bound to be good news 🙂

Possibly the only bad thing about Autumn, in fact, is that it marks the end of the cricket season, although that sometimes comes as a relief after a run of bad scores and being dropped to the 3rd XI for the last couple of games, to “strengthen their batting”. Not this year, however. I managed to post all of my bad scores in the 2nds this year. Apart from one duck earlier in the season. Anyway. While the cricket season here draws to a close, in Australia it is just starting, and eyes are beginning to turn towards the Ashes series which starts in November. At least, mine are. 23 November is when it all kicks off, in Brisbane. Mark R has already hinted at being willing to host all-night Ashes-watching parties (Mrs R, are you reading this?)… 18 December is when I fly out Oz-wards, although I won’t have to wait that long to get my passport out, as I discovered today I’m going to a German hearing aid conference in October. Not sure exactly where yet.

The times they are a-changing, at least in the Broughton area. Tesco, which is so close to my flat that I could probably hit the deli counter with a well-directed organic potato (given the prior removal of the roof), has been undergoing a radical facelift. Not least has been the arrival of Costa, that purveyor of over-priced coffee. Which in itself doesn’t affect me too much, as I’ve stopped drinking coffee, but it’s somehow sad to see the demise of the Tesco café. And it might lure the slightly pretentious coffee-drinkers (like myself, before I gave it up) away from Sandro’s top joint Caffelatte at the top of Logie Green Road – also a Costa outlet. Which would be a bad thing, as he makes fine pizzas, and I badly don’t want him to go out of business. Altruistic to the end, me.

More change on the parking front as well. I am about to become a resident of N1 Zone, which means that our beloved Council now get to take £80 a year off me for the privilege of parking on a street that I’ve been parking on for free for 3 years. It all starts on Monday, and I received my parking permit through the post yesterday. Unfortunately the Council (May They Live Forever) sent me a permit for Zone S1, which entitles me to park in various streets in the Grange/Marchmont area. Which is rather flattering, but singularly unhelpful. Hopefully they will get the right one out to me soon, although as I am away (and will have the car with me) all next week, it’s not a disaster.

My sister Alison arrived up from London last weekend, and has been staying with the folks since then. This has worked well for all of us, shall we say, as the levels of care and attention in the parental home have shot skywards, and I have managed to get more sleep 🙂 My parents will insist on holding wild parties until the early hours, and still expect the porridge to be on the table at 7.30am. There’s just no stopping them.

Next week marks the start of Forum, a UCCF conference in Oswestry, Shropshire. I am going to be involved on the sound engineering side of things all week, and am looking forward to it very much, perhaps partly because it will be my first full week off work since August last year. Perhaps also because a week away from my flat will be good, as it appears that my rodent visitor, having finally attacked the pile of tasty poison like Anne Brown tearing into a stash of chocolate biscuits, is now decomposing slowly underneath my floorboards. At least, that’s what it smells like. The last time such an odour pervaded my kitchen I thought the carcass must be under the floorboards, having undertaken an extensive search of the kitchen and its environs. 10 days later I discovered the body right in front of my washing machine. I am convinced to this day that someone planted it there to make it look like I didn’t use my washing machine much.

Anyhow, Forum should be fun. Nathan and Lou Fellingham (of Phatfish fame) will be playing at the late night slot on Monday night, so it will be great to meet them. Slightly nervous about doing sound for them… Actually I’ve met Lou, kind of, at Alyn and AJ’s wedding in Toronto in January last year. I daresay she’ll be bursting to find out what I’ve been up to in the intervening period. Perhaps I should give her the address of this blog.

Speaking of celebrities, I scored a famous win over Slid in the first game of my ongoing series of Celebrity Spotting. Celebrity Spotting is a subject worthy of its own blog entry, but I haven’t had the time to do it justice yet. Suffice to say that eyeballing Sean Connery on Lothian Road was enough to wrap up Game One, and Game Two is now in progress. No score yet. Other contestants, should they be interested in joining, and subject to ratification by the Committee, are welcome to throw their hat into the ring.

Having given it some consideration, I think the deli counter might be just out of range (I don’t have a very good throwing arm) but I am confident I could take out one of the checkout operators. Not for a date, obviously….