EDitorial ± 28-May-2002

Coupe Du Monde

Anyone remember a children's telly programme from a few years back called Bric-a-Brac? In it, local boy and pre-school media god Brian Cant (we are not worthy) played the owner of a junk shop, and each week, to help our literary skills, he'd collect miscellaneous objects starting with the same letter. That memory surfaced because this morning, I put up the World Cup wallchart at work by the watercooler. To quote Ten Pole Tudor's 1981 top 20 hit, wunderbar!
We're gonna win that World Cup in Spain
We're gonna hoist that World Cup again!
— Spirit Of 66, Serious Drinking (who never troubled the charts)

Ben Sherman shirt kindly given to me by my mum for my birthday but which I think is a tad too flag-ish for my liking

I feel quite an affinity for the quadrennial competition that starts at the end of this week: born in '66 I was oblivious to England's brief period of global superiority on the football field, and my soccer consciousness only kicked in when the decline began, as we failed to beat Poland to qualify for the 1974 event. I was perfectly content collecting the stickers (incl. Johnny Rep and the Zaire team), learning the names of German towns and playing outside wearing my Tip And Tap top.

Zipping mentally through subsequent tournaments:

  • 1978, carefree:
    • biked down to Solar Superstore, now Morrison's, to bulk buy a long forgotten wheat-based snack that included greasily wrapped players' cards
  • 1982, exams:
    • tried not to let O-levels interfere with running home to watch a fab Brazilian team with Socrates and Zico crash out to Italy
  • 1986, college:
    • watched the Hand of God incident in the TV room of the Duryard halls of residence at Exeter (before Uri Geller came to town)
  • 1990, independence:
    • collected Italia pizza before settling down in my front-row seat in the flat for Waddle and Pearce's penalties
  • 1994, BT:
    • group of us at work entered Fantasy Football comp in the Daily Telegraph; my boss, thanks to Chris Sutton, amazingly won himself a trip to the semis and final in the USA, but took his wife rather than any of us
  • 1998, kids:
    • happened to be on hols up north, in kitchen of cottage, when the infamous Beckham sending-off incident took place

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. tap on the knee and Ipswich lad Dyer will be out
  2. tip for an upset: Japan
  3. top footy record: Colourbox's Official World Cup Theme

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 21-May-2002

Going Loco

Peter Pan, like most boys, lived in Never Never Land (pay nothing until this time next year!) and refused to grow up. Which is a roundabout way of making this point: one of the perks of being a parent is that you don't need any excuses to visit toyshops. And so it was that on Saturday morning I could be found in one such shop examining various Brio wooden trains and accessories. OK, so I didn't take any of the kids, but that's my prerogative.
I was wearing corduroy breeches
Digging ditches, pulling switches
Dodging pitches, as I was
Working on the railway
— Poor Paddy, The Pogues

There's been Brio track (actually the cheaper compatible stuff from Early Learning Centre to begin with) in the house since we bought a set for one of the girls some years back. Much like Lego, proper Brio merchandise is pricy, durable, Scandinavian in origin, helps develop learning and is great fun for dads. No surprise that I felt the need to ever-so-slightly modify the track layout before taking the picture shown below.


Youngest child, known as The Boy, is well into everything train-related at the moment. Given his love of throwing, kicking and hammering, I wasn't sure if he'd have the requisite attention span to enjoy the Brio, but I was wrong - he shows a remarkably gentle touch when preparing to push the engine & carriages down the sloped track. And when a locomotive gets hurled across the room, you can tell he's getting tired.

One of Brio's trademark slogans is "Powered by imagination!", which I'd guess predates the newer battery-powered engines that they sell. On the upside, they propel themselves round the track - cool, as The Boy says. On the downside, I sometimes find one up against the skirting board having long since exhausted its 1.5V AAA power supply.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. I took away a Train Engineer's Freight Set at the weekend
  2. I bought it to improve my children's cognitive skills, spatial comprehension and problem solving
  3. I really bought it 'cos I like playing with choo-choos

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 13-May-2002

With Infinite Majesty And Calm

Douglas Adams has a new book out titled, interestingly, The Salmon Of Doubt. Which is a neat trick since he's often referred to as the late Douglas Adams, being nothing to do with punctuality. Glancing through the inner sleeve this lunchtime in Waterstone's, the quaint offline bookshop, it seems that this posthumous effort contains ten chapters of an unfinished Dirk Gently novel (remember the interconnectedness of all things?) plus various other morsels recovered from his Macintosh hard disk.

Oh, meant to mention before I carry on that I'm writing this aged 5x7, but I'll almost certainly be 6x6 by the time I finish. Yep, quality writing takes time, narf.

Back to Mr Adams, who was at pains to point out that he didn't live in Surrey. Arguably his most well-known words can be found in chaper 27 of The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, part of which reads:

For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe, and Everything!
I wouldn't want to compare myself to Deep Thought (pause), but I believe that I've stumbled across the platinum key to modern living. Like that supercomputer however, I have to say that you're not going to like it. You see, it's this:
— Have lots of spare batteries and screws —
For those of you who work better with pictures:

The meaning of it all

Since I purchased a bulk load of dry cells (from AAA to D) and assorted multipurpose screws (from 12mm to 40mm) in the same week, life has been sweet, barring the odd mishap as described on the RHS. No more scrabbling around for mismatched AAs to power a Maglite, nor wall fixings for the kids' bedrooms. A tough assignment to be sure, but it's either that or 6x7.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. be flexible: they might want 9V worth of PP3
  2. be prepared: also carry mints & stamps
  3. be secure: Rawlplugs are recommended

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 7-May-2002

I'm Still Rolling Along

For as long as I can remember (and I'm closer to 40 than 30 now, though only just), there's been an annual gathering of vintage vehicles in town that roughly coincides with Cup Final weekend. I know I'm not getting any younger when, comparing the two events, I probably got more out of the old cars on Sunday than the footy on Saturday. Mind you, great goals from Parlour and that-guy-with-the-red-streak-in-his-hair-whose-name-I'm-not-totally-sure-how-to-spell, if little else to catch the eye.

Years back, my dad would take me and big brother to watch the parade of motors begin their short journey to Felixstowe. And so I dragged wife plus kids out on Sunday morning in less than certain weather to do likewise.

Purple Ford Anglia   Hey, a cool three-wheeler!   Sporty red car, make unknown

It's a mighty fine spectacle is Christchurch Park on the big morning. The paths are lined with a plethora of finely maintained autos that would make Mike Brewer weep, from Austins to Zephyrs with most letters in-between. You can work your way down from the Rollers, Jags and Bristols to the humbler Escort, Mini and Beetle (original models, naturally). Oh, there's also coaches, double deckers, jeeps and motorbikes too. No wonder that the girls quickly became desperate to hit the playground.

Always the way that particular cars attract more attention than others. One such exhibit was a bright orange Messerschmidt: two seats, one behind the other - perhaps the Smart car of its day - and three wheels. Took me back to one of the first cars I drove regularly, namely the family's marginally less street-cred bright yellow Reliant Robin. Which was a step up from the previous runaround, the dull green Reliant Regal. My therapist says it's good to talk about these matters.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. drive, she said, but clunk click every trip, as Jimmy said
  2. baby you can drive my car on just a motorbike licence
  3. who's gonna drive you home, and how many units have they had?

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 2-May-2002

Your Local News Machine

Missing (hoped lost) this rare copy of Ippo, a short-lived free local rag, has resurfaced having been used to line a sock drawer for the past two years. Even in that short while, things have moved on somewhat, as you'll shortly discover.

Paving The Parks Which Will Be The First To Go?

Feb 2000

* * *
Ippo - Your Local News Machine

--- Your Local News Machine ---

Large range
of new and

Arcade St
Work finally complete on Arcade Street tunnel
Full story inside
Irish pub "not genuine" claim
In I2
Road sign points to new life
In Transport

Bramford Man Wants To Be Asked His Opinion By High Street Pollster

IPSWICH, TOWN CENTRE: Eric Boyton, an insurance clerk working within five minutes walk of the town centre, has revealed his secret desire - to be stopped by just one of the many market researchers who patrol the high street.
     Despite having worked in the low-claims motoring department of one of the town's biggest insurance companies for some seven years, Eric, 45, who estimates that he comes into the centre three days out of five, has yet to be buttonholed by a single pollster.
     "Nearly all of my office colleagues have been stopped at some time", said Eric, "and, in my view, their opinions are worth next-to-nothing".
     The Bramford resident added: "I've just got so much to say, whether we're talking shampoo, low-fat spreads, or even public transport. I regularly take notes during the adverts. Does no-one want to know what I think?"

New KFC To Seal Town's Bid For City Status

KFC Ipswich's bid to become a city will be all but guaranteed with the completion of a new KFC on Cardinal Park, borough councillor Fred Melton told Ippo earlier today.
     "I firmly believe our bid to be in the bag", he added. "Nowhere, not even Milton Keynes, can beat us now - we're city-lickin' good".
     With the Colonel's chicken strips and that perennial favourite, the Family Feast (including Vienetta) on offer, the town has never been better served for fast food.
     Anyone coming out of the Virgin Multiplex on Cardinal Park will be spoiled for choice snack-wise: will it be hot chicken from the new KFC, a quick Quarterpounder from MacDonalds, or something slower at the New Orleans bar.
     Tasty options all round!

  News Bites

--- Local ---

Missing man turns up safe in allotment

Generator stolen, rotated, returned

Reward offer to find exact town centre

--- National ---

Daniel O'Donnell decathlon nears end

Jailed platypus vows to fight on

Ex-lighthouse keeper: charges dropped