Six Nations Rugby – Anyone Understand It?

Certainly not the players!

I confess to being a “football man”. This largely stems from the fact that I was the 2nd smallest kid in my school year and consequently not great rugby material.


Maybe this is the attraction…

My only venture on to a rugby field came when my sadistic PT teacher forced me to move from football to rugby for one match. I lurked on the right wing hoping to avoid any action for most of the game until one of my over zealous team mates passed me the ball. I took two steps before being spread-eagled in the mud by a giant thug who did his best to crush me. Never again – next week I was back on the football pitch!

My grandson follows proudly in my footsteps. Picked to play in an inter-schools tournament at The Stoop (Harlequins’ ground next to Twickenham) he is the only person to grace that hallowed ground without actually touching the ball.

So I have followed football all my life and am an avid supporter of Portsmouth (which in itself requires you to be a man of steel), having largely ignored rugby until recently when friends persuaded me that the 6 Nations was good to watch.

And it was. I watched England v Italy yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it, but didn’t have a clue what was going on – and neither did the players who had to consult the referee once to determine the rules. And he changed his mind after he watched a replay on YouTube and checking the rules with someone in the stand. Oh, and apparently they are Laws, not Rules – do me a favour.

If anything requires a radical simplification it is the laws of Rugby Union, second only to the UK tax system.

Penalties are awarded for anything. “Going in with a shoulder” and “Knocking On” seem to be heinous crimes, but to me it just looked like a heap of fat guys thumping hell out of each other.

And the terminology is mind boggling. Players with names like “Tight Head Prop”, “Fly Half” and “Hooker” (not illegal?) engage in “Rucks”, “Mauls” and “Scrums”.

Having said all the above, I reiterate that I enjoyed watching the game, particularly the tries (trys?) and will watch again, but it will never replace football until they sort out the impenetrable rules. Sorry, laws.

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Ecco Shoes Rip-Off Continues


Followers of this blog may recall my post 2 years ago concerning quality problems with expensive shoes made by Danish manufacturer Ecco.

Unfortunately I bought 4 pairs of premium priced shoes before I realised that the soles fall apart if you don’t wear them regularly. Since my last post a pair of golf shoes has fallen apart whilst I was playing the 17th at Palmares and last week we were out with a friend when the sole on his shoes came to pieces in a restaurant. To his great embarrassment he left a trail of rubber throughout the restaurant and had to ask for plastic bags to cover his feet as it was raining outside.


It was fortunate that he did not have to walk home.

I was similarly lucky that the soles of my £100+ golf shoes disintegrated on the 17th hole so I only had to hobble one more hole.

dscn2053dscn2054It really is time that something was done about this company as we are far from alone with this problem as this link shows and, as mentioned previously, you can whistle for a refund.

Where are Trading Standards? What price the EU’s CE mark?

I’m afraid it will have to be down to People Power.

Boycott Ecco and tell your friends!

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Two Year Brexit – You’re having a laugh!

dscn2230The EU will need at least 10 years to agree a trade deal with the UK – forget 2 years after Article 50.

The EU’s deal with Canada took 7 years, and then only after they ran roughshod over Belgium’s veto. Canada’s agreement was strictly about trade – no requirement for them to take immigrants (note!!) or adopt EU laws, so it was far more straightforward than the Brexit negotiation.

The cumbersome and bureaucratic EU is incapable of reaching agreement in less than 10 years – that’s one reason why we voted to leave.

Hard Brexit is the only option thanks to the incompetence of those on the Brussels/Strasbourg gravy train.

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Street Artists go Stir Crazy

Once again the street artists have brightened walls in Lagos, Portugal. And they didn’t just stir the paint, they painted the town jail – like this…

arturb-279Laboratório de Actividades Criativas (LAC), an arts organisation part financed by the Portuguese government, invited 5 well known street artists from Norway, Poland, Holland and two from Porto for this year’s series of events.

LAC is based in Lagos’ old town jail in Largo Convento Sra. da Glória. The first task of the visiting artists was to redecorate the inside of the jail for viewing by the public. Like the above work by Third from Porto.

Another Porto artist, Mots (real name Diogo Ruas) painted all 4 walls and the ceiling of one of the rooms at the jail – here is a detail from his painting which is perhaps redolent of M C Escher. You can view much more of his art here

pic-2Next, here is a creation on 3 walls of the old jail’s exercise yard. It is by M-City (Mariusz Waras from Poland) . It depicts workers fleeing from burning offshore oilrigs, with a reference to local virgin olive oil – highly topical in the light of crazy plans to drill for oil off the Algarve.


Further below there are some shots of a large piece of street art panted by Dutch artist Daan Botlek but here is a small example that he produced inside the jail.


Daan also produced”The Overthinker” in a stair well in the jail.


You can visit the jail (interesting in itself) and view this and a selection of other amazing art on the walls. There is no charge and no appointment is necessary, just drop in during the day and say hello.

On to the Streets

Once the jail had been transformed three of the artists created murals around the streets of Lagos on sites pre-agreed with the Camara (Council) and the owners of the walls.

LAC are sponsored by Portuguese electricity supplier EDP, so an electricity tower is fair game for M-City. He created this piece in just under 5 hours using a cherry picker.




pic7_finishedPaint was applied using rollers and cans of spray paint.

So what is it? Close examination reveals that it is a wrecked bus or coach standing on end covering two sides of the tower, one showing the side of the bus and the other the underside.

M-City has produced other pieces around Lagos, including a stencil opposite Joe’s Garage in the old town which is worth a look. He works using both stencils and by painting freehand.

You can view his extensive catalogue of street art on the internet by going here and selecting “walls” from the menu.

More from Daan Botlek as he creates his version of Newton’s Cradle on a viaduct under the EN125 coast road next to Restaurante Trinidade and the campsite.


pic9pic10Daan lives in Berlin but originally hails from Holland and has an extensive online exhibition at his website

Before his visit the wall was painted white as a background. When Daan arrived he pointed out that the figures he was painting were going to be white so there was a hasty repaint in pale blue!

The finished work was painted entirely using rollers of different sizes and was tiring work, hanging off a ladder and repeatedly climbing up and down. Certainly a young man’s game.

Finally we turn to Anders Gjennestad who comes from Norway.

Whereas the other artists are quite “in your face” with bold murals that jump off the wall, Anders’ jumping men are far more subtle.


He prefers to work on old naturally weathered surfaces using stencils that he painstakingly produces in advance, each one slightly different to the next. He uses up to 8 stencils in any one piece of work and applies different shades of spray paint, sticking each stencil in place in turn with masking tape.

The result is a piece of 3D art that integrates with its surroundings as can be seen on the weathered gates in Rua Convento Sra. da Glória and on the wall below.


You will find other examples of Anders’ stencils around the town but you may need to keep your eyes open, or you can go to his website.

To conclude here is a stencil by M-City, the most prolific of the visiting artists, painted in one of the cells in the old town jail. I imagine the original inmates would have liked to have had a pneumatic drill on hand.

pic15Why not visit the jail to view the art? They might even let you leave!

3-artists4 Diagreeable


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They still don’t get it!

teapotPiers Morgan said on TV this morning that Remain got it wrong – they thought we were concerned about the economy but it was actually immigration that worried us. Wrong!

Immigration was an issue but so was our disgust at our laws being overruled by foreign bureaucrats. The reason I voted for Brexit was my refusal to allow the continued supremacy of EU law over UK law

But most of all, this was a vote by hard working taxpayers against the Establishment – we are sick of being screwed down whilst bankers pay themselves bonuses, fatcat politicians lie & line their pockets, and multinationals pay no tax.

We have the bit between our teeth now, so watch out Westminster!

1 Jovial

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Politics after the Referendum

Next Thursday the Brits go to the polls to decide whether the UK will leave the EU, having been battered from both sides with predictions about the economy and immigration. However, how about an unbiased prediction of the political scene after the Referendum, whichever way it goes?

cameron corbyn boris farage compositeOne thing is for sure: it will never be as it has been. But there are numerous possible outcomes against a background of a Tory party split down the middle, Corbyn only 70% sure and he and Cameron appearing side by side on stage. Likewise Sadiq Khan and Cameron.

It’s unheard of for two political opponents to come together whilst their members defect. You don’t come back from that. Continue reading

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David Cameron on the Brink of Insanity?

The claims coming from Cameron and his EU Remain camp are becoming increasingly bizarre and unbelievable, although he could be excused this irrational behaviour if you delve a little deeper (see below).

Continue reading

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Honeymoon in Sri Lanka – Not us!


I will shortly be attending the wedding of my niece, with a reception in a swanky hotel and country club, from which they will fly to Sri Lanka and on to the Maldives. Or possibly the Seychelles, or Mauritius, or somewhere similar with palm trees and sand.

My daughter took her honeymoon in the Dominican Republic in preference to Antigua.

Not us. Our honeymoon was taken at Smilie’s where we were dropped off following a reception at Rayners Lane Scout Hall at which my new brother-in-law repeatedly played “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals on a Dansette record player. You can guess which decade.

Not that I am bitter that I missed out. Much. But Smilie’s was not an acceptable substitute for Sri Lanka.

Smilie owned the terraced dwelling where we rented our first “home”. Two dark rooms in a suburban street called The Gardens in West Harrow. Gardens which had been paved over as hard standing for dustbins in a London borough which hadn’t seen a harrow for at least a century.

Mr and Mrs Smilie were retired and operated a shift system. He was around during the day and slept at night. She was up all night and slept during the day. They hated each other and did not communicate except occasionally for practical reasons as they passed on the stairs at 9.00am and 9.00pm.

We shared the bathroom and kitchen and were allocated a small space in the fridge alongside the old man’s burnt sausages. Every weekend he would cook sausages until they were shrivelled and black then eat one each day for breakfast. He kept a Velocette motorbike in the hallway but I never saw him use it. He rarely went out.

To this day I have not met anyone quite as mean. In the few brief months of winter when we shared his roof he would huddle by day in his parlour refusing to light a fire – he proudly announced that blankets were cheaper than coal. I kid you not.

We were allowed one bath per week and could switch on the immersion heater for no more than one hour to heat the water. When he discovered that I was taking liberties by bathing on a Wednesday and a Saturday he built a wooden box around the immersion switch with a hinged door and a small padlock. We would have to ask him to unlock the “bath box” for exactly one hour, allowing 7 days between each request.

Of course he suffered from his own meanness. The padlock was so cheap and flimsy that I could open it with a tiny key from a toy money box. So I would open the bath box, switch on and relock it. Twice he cursed himself for being forgetful. The third time he rumbled and our relationship deteriorated from there.

It reached its nadir due to an unplanned incident when I noticed that the front door of the house had been left open. I closed it and went upstairs to our room. After a few minutes there was load knocking on the front door from both the knocker and then from fists thumping on the woodwork. I returned and opened the door to find a florid faced Smilie accusing me of deliberately locking him out.

Perhaps my laughter as I walked away didn’t help repair the situation as he came careering down the hallway towards me, howling with rage, and took a swing at my chin with his right fist. Now, he was slow, old and fat. I was quick, young and nimble. Sidestepping his blow did not require great agility and he skidded on the worn linoleum straight into the kitchen, colliding with the refrigerator which fell forward, spilling burnt sausages across the floor.

Apoplectic, amid my howls of laughter, he went back out through the front door and returned a few minutes later with a uniformed policeman. The sympathetic copper listened to his rant and calmed him down and I told him that I thought he had left the door open accidentally which he endeavoured to explain to Smilie. I did point out the motorbike standing alongside us in the hall and asked whether a vehicle full of highly inflammable fuel could legally be stored in a dwelling house, then I rapidly retired for an early bath. We moved out a couple of weeks later.

To be fair we did have a proper honeymoon a few months later, staying for a weekend in a B&B in Bournemouth. We were drenched on Saturday night having been caught in a thunderstorm trying to find a pub. Any pub. Not an easy job in central Bournemouth which seems to have been built by Quakers. However, we did take time to send a postcard to Smilie saying “Wish you were here”.

5  Slightly Tetchy


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Cuban Street Art

Followers of this blog will know that I am a fan of street art (not scrawled graffiti) so when I spent a couple of weeks in Cuba earlier this year, I had to get out my camera.








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Bert’s Dilemma

 “Mine’s a pint Bert”.

 “OK Fred, but only because I’m looking to you for some advice”.

 “Thanks mate. Fire away!” he said taking a sip of foam. Another short measure.

 “Well Fred, you know I keep a few chickens and sell my eggs down the market”, said Bert. Fred nodded.

 Bert continued. “I was in here last night and, a while after you left, a bloke came over and asked me if I was the one who sold the eggs. Said he could put a good deal my way”.

 “What sort of deal?”

 “He said that if I joined his club I would be able to increase my sales of eggs because I could sell to his other members. Sounded fine at first, but there are conditions”.

 “I guess there has to be something in it for him. Go on!”

 “Well, first there’s the membership fee and it’s not small. I’d have to stop coming down here in the evening, so that’s the last pint I’ll be buying you!”

 “That’s a serious disadvantage which I will have to consider Bert” said Fred with a twinkle in his eye”.

 “That’s not all. For every £60 that his club members spend on my eggs I have to buy £100 of stuff from them”.

 “I trust you sent him on his way”.

 “There’s more. They will also tell me how to look after my chickens and they will pass laws on chicken management. I will be fined or go to jail if I don’t comply. And if I buy new chicken runs I have to go to him before I can buy them from Joe the Joiner next door”.

 “And some of the members are suffering overcrowding because non-members have moved in to live on their farms. I have to take two every year as lodgers and support them indefinitely – I will also have to send money to their families back home.”

 “Don’t you have any say in how this club is run?”

 “He said I have a vote but there are 24 others so I don’t have any influence.”

 “Have you done any research into this club Bert?”

 “Well yes. They don’t look very kosher. They’ve been around for a long time but their accounts have failed audit every year for the last 20 years.”

 “Bert, my old pal, take my advice and steer well clear. Only a raving idiot would want to belong to a club like that!”




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