It seems you won’t walk alone

“And now, the end is near, and we must face the final curtain.

Real Madrid face Liverpool in the Champions League Final in  Kiev, of that we’re certain”

(This can be sung to the tune ‘My Way’)

now we all know that LFC have “You’ll never walk alone as their anthem”.  It would seem to be true when you’re in Kiev

Normally the pre match muttering involves UEFA and the fact that the ticket allocation is a farce. Liverpool with an average home attendance of 53,049 have been allocated 16,626. This is the same as Real Madrid will receive, despite their average home attendance of 65,647. The total allocation to the two finalists when all the legitimate avenues are taken into account makes up 63% of the attendance.

The rest, 37% will consist of hospitality members, rights holders, commercial partners, officials, players past and present and media.

The second major complaint would be the ticket prices  This year they have four categories.  The lowest are £61 (£48 with a restricted view), whilst the top category are £394 (or 315 for a restricted view. The major complaint will be the ease that ticket touts have sourced their tickets and warnings about fake tickets.

This year it is accommodation that has hit the headlines and produced a bunch of internet heroes for our times. Some hotels have hiked their prices by a multiple of twenty, so a €1000 per night is now €20,000. Disgracefully, fans who took a punt on their team being there and booked rooms well in advance, now are being ripped off. Take the case of Michael Cain, 53, and his brother Darren, 54, both from Liverpool. They had faith that Jurgen Klopp would steerhis team to the final so they had booked a £250 hotel room in Kiev back in November 2017. Last week they received an email saying the hotel could not honour their booking due to “electrical faults”. Mr Cain claims the hotel has continued to advertise rooms since the cancellation, and instead offered the brothers another hotel 60km away for £3,000 for two nights. As a result, the brothers had planned to sleep in a tent on the streets of Kiev.

Then this story took a twist. 27-year-old Victor Kylymar saw the story and offered the brothers his couch, for nothing, (or a bottle of whisky according to other sources.) Victor and some friends who were Liverpool fans, were so embarrassed by the image of Kiev the hotels were presenting they set up the ‘Kyiv Free Couch’ Facebook page for visiting supporters. The page reads: “As hotels are booked in Kyiv on 26 May, and many football fans are looking for the place the stay after the final game, local people are ready to host for free.”

One Liverpudlian when asking if he could hire a car was told that he could borrow his hosts!

There is Real Madrid version of the Facebook page. It has proven to be equally popular.

It has the potential to be a great match.

“All that’s left to do now, is to wish Good luck to both teams and hope, that both sets of fans behave the right way”


A or An?

You might remember ,that in a throw-away aside, tucked out of harms way I wondered in one of my recent posts,  whether the rules for using ‘a’ or ‘an’ in front of words beginning with vowels or the letter ‘h’.

It is a vague recollection from my school days, so much use of google can be expected!

It turns out that it was more a set of guidelines which, annoyingly since I am writing this, well strictly speaking I am typing it I suppose, but the rule relates to the pronunciation.

 That is quite an individual thing. Take “hotel”. If you sound a hard ‘h’, you would write, ok, type, “a hotel”. If you say the word in the style of Hercules Poirot he would have a virtually silent, so the second letter comes into play. He would say “an hotel”. (Example of the lost M. Poirot’s christian name being another example of the lost letter at the beginning.

What about Cockneys? In the East End of London you can’t avoid treading on the dropped aitches. The other day I saw an interview with ‘arry Redknapp a well known ex-manager who it seems ‘as never knowingly retained an aitch. Commenting on a bad miss ‘Arry said something like “that’s an ‘orrible miss, ‘er indoors would ‘ave stuck that away.”

So the answer is: it depends how you say it.

Medication – one side effect

There are often interesting and relevant articles in the Parkinson’s UK magazine.  A couple of issues ago there was a good article on apathy. Well I was told it was good – I just couldn’t be bothered to read it.

This edition has an article on “hallucinations and delusions”, but The Bear, my 300lb clarinet playing, Peruvian spectacled bear friend, tells me so many bits that he was amused by, there isn’t much left to read.

Now I know what you’re thinking and the answer is ‘genetic anomalies’.  The Bear has opposable thumbs and vocal chords which allow him to speak.

I’ll get to the point; it has to be said medications for Parkinson’s has some absolutely corking side-effects. I know that some addiction to shopping, for example, as the internet makes buying stuff so easy. You can’t help laughing at some others.

Some of the common side effects of dopamine agonists include

▪Hallucinations and delusions 

▪Increased orgasmic intensity


▪Unusual tiredness or weakness


▪Possible Narcolepsy manifestations

▪Twitching, twisting

▪Pathological addiction (gambling, shopping, internet pornography, hyper-sexuality)

I’m making no comment about my side effects, (bar one) but I shall pause and let you contemplate some of the combinations.

Insomnia and/or drowsiness?

Apathy strikes, think of your own funny combination and pretend I said it. Go on it’s easy.

If I believed The Bear existed, and in the interests of clarity, I don’t, that would be a delusion. I am not delusional.

If I could see The Bear but knew that he is based on the eponymous hero of “The Bear Comes Home” by Rafi Zabor, one of my favourite books – you can pick up a used paperback for £1.43 on Amazon and if you like jazz and you like the idea of a wise-cracking, clarinet and sax playing Bear, stop reading this right now and go and snap one up. Go on, I’ll wait…

Where was I?

Oh yes if I could see The Bear but knew he wasn’t real that’s an hallucination.  (When did it stop being a rule of grammar that you used ‘an’ for words like hotel and hallucination?)

Anyway I’m getting hallucinations. Boring science geek that I am I worked out pretty quickly that they only occur in my peripheral vision, when I am looking through a combination of no lens and the edge of my varifocal lenses and there are ordinary objects in positions that combine to create a visual puzzle that my brain solves my seeing a person. 

Sometimes it is a glimpse of a generic human figure. Usually it is a family member, two of them so far, firstly my much better half, even when I know she’s sitting on on the sofa, The second hallucinogenic figure is my daughter, who I ‘see’ curled up on the armchair next to mine. It can be quite unsettling …

A person with Aspergers…

Just a short post today.

I never taught an autistic pupil, but I did teach a number of pupils with Asperger’s. This is a developmental disorder and sufferers experience difficulties with social interaction and and non-verbal communication.

If I hear anyone making their own jokes about mathematics teachers, there will be consequences.

They may also exhibit restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour, physical clumsiness and unusual use of language. Asperger’s is regarded as a milder form form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it differs from other ASDs by relatively “normal” language and intelligence.  Remember no mathematics teacher jokes.

An anecdote: I was teaching a year 10 class which included a boy with Asperger’s. That particular lesson I wanted them to work on an exercise which used the method I had just shown them. A few minutes into the lesson and this lad was just sitting there. I gave it a couple more minutes then crouched down next to him.

Me: ”Is everything ok?” Him:”Yes I have finished”. Me:”You haven’t written anything down…” Him: “You didn’ t tell us to.” Me: “Yes I did, I told you to …”

The penny dropped. He was quite right. I had asked the class “to have a look at exercise five.” That is exactly what he had done.

A Cure for Autism?

I have a confession to make. I was once a believer in.. 

No you won’t buy it.  

After my little Di-hydrogen monoxide leg pulling joke, you will find it hard to swallow – much like these flipping antibiotic tablets of which I am midway through a course. 

Dear readers, don’t judge me too harshly, I once believed in homeopathy. In my defence I was only 9 or 10 years old, the principle of “like cures like” seemed persuasive and I had not yet learned the words ‘placebo’ or ‘quack’. Well obviously I had met the work ‘quack’ but only in its duck related sense. 

I was a sickly child by all accounts. The headmistress of my Infants School apparently suggested I should be attending a ‘sunshine home for sick children’, much to Mum’s irritation. Mum, wanted what she believed was the best for me. This meant regular appointments at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in Great Ormond Street  The name and address were impressive, except to the bullies who latched onto the word ‘homeopathic’ and, given that the sum of their IQs was less than that of the mould growing  on the wall in corner on the cloakroom, wittily  made it “homo-pathetic.” 

I am interested to note that the hospital now styles itself as the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. Perhaps it was being also being bullied.

As a child the exact methods by which the ‘medication’ worked was never spelled out. Over the years I’ve picked up more knowledge and now find myself pitched somewhere between Dara O’Brien  Click here for a clip  and Ben GoldacreWatch a snippet from some teacher training

The headline on an article in the Guardian was bound to catch my eye.

Autism: More than 120 homeopaths in the UK offering ‘cure’

Oh dear. Here is a Link  to the full story.

My self appointed role in this blog is to poke gentle fun at things, unless I am particularly inspired to vent. To be honest I haven’t got the energy to get that worked up about anything, because I am feeling, how can I put this tastefully, rather drained by a protracted and ongoing case of diarrhoea.  If only I was still a believer in homeopathy and the effectiveness of the one molecule in the sphere of water with a diameter of 93 million miles. Then I could take my Podophyllum infused sugar pill to ‘cure’ me and be reassured that, according to these homeopaths

“Diarrhoea,… should not necessarily be cause for concern because it is the body purging itself of toxins.”


Back to the bigger story. These 120 homeopaths seem to be claiming that by making the children sick enough the ‘toxins’  that they claim are causing the autism will be expelled and thus the child is cured.

To quote from the article in the Guardian:

The National  Autism Society is concerned by the suggestion that autism, a developmental disorder, could be cured. They are also disturbed by the claim that autism is linked to vaccines, as proposed by Andrew Wakefield – a theory that has been comprehensively discredited. Wakefield, a former gastroenterologist, was struck off the medical register over his claims.

I am sure that these 120  homeopaths are well-meaning, but ignoring experts, and persisting on their reliance on anecdotal evidence rather than the results of carefully planned and executed medical trials worries me.

If I choose to waste spend my money on a homeopathic ‘remedy’ there is no harm done, except to my bank balance. If any of the 120 homeopaths gives false hope to vulnerable and desperate parents, I hope they have a good stock of their remedy for insomnia, because how else could they sleep at night?

The Sport of the 1980s… hmm

(A slightly different version of this can be found in another blog of mine.)

Yesterday I strayed from the usual, well-viewed sports channels onto a Free Sports channel. In a case of semi-deja vu, there was a British Basketball League match from The University of Surrey between Surrey Scorchers and Bristol Fliers. Surrey won 120 – 97,  in overtime, but to be fair to Bristol they had played the night before winning   80 – 78 against Worcester.

Basketball was going to be the sport of the 1980s. It was at the time the fastest growing sport in Britain. It was one of the two sports that the new Channel 4 would be televising. It got off to a great start. The first Monday Night Live Basketball was a hard fought encounter and Team Fiat Birmingham led the star-studded Crystal Palace, going into the final seconds. Trevor Anderson (a product of Crystal Palace Juniors) launched a buzzer beating shot from very long range. I can’t recall if the game was tied and Palace won in overtime, or if Trevor ‘Skywalker’ Anderson (as he was nicknamed by the announcer at Crystal Palace) shot was a winner but that isn’t the main point of my ramblings today so I shall move on.

Basketball? Where did it all go wrong? A family-friendly sport, played indoors, the fans happily mixing without a hint of crowd trouble.

So here I was watching the Surrey Scorchers, who are based in Guildford, playing at the University of Surrey.  Just as nearly 40 years ago I had been the statistician for Team Talbot, who were based in Guildford, and played at the University of Surrey. Now you might think that there would be a direct lineage from Team Talbot to the Scorchers; you might just as well think the earth is flat. (News just in – it isn’t.)

This is a brief outline of one of the reasons Basketball never fulfilled its ‘destiny’.

Just to be thorough, First in this lineage were Southern Pirates 1975 – 1979, who became Team Talbot Guildford, 1979 – 1982. Under new ownership, they were uprooted from Guildford to Bracknell, becoming  Happy Eater Bracknell Pirates until 1987, when, sold and renamed once more the Bracknell Tigers carried the torch until 1990 when the Thames Valley Tigers took over until 2005. The Tigers folded and an attempt by a group of fans to revive the franchise missed the deadline.

Confusingly a new franchise began as Guildford Heat 2005-2012, became Surrey Heat til 2013, then three years as Surrey United, before the current name Surrey Scorchers was adopted. (2013 to date).

There are other teams who were known as Guildford. This third one takes a while to reach Guildford, so get yourself a nice cup of tea and a hob-nob. Originally from Romford, from 1973 until 1979 Slick Willie’s YMCA Mets  were based at the London Central YMCA.  Between 1979 and 1988 with new sponsors and a new home this franchise became Kelly Girl International, Kingston, then Club Cantabrica, ending up as Kingston Kings in 1988.  The franchise was bought by Glasgow Rangers who made them play in Falkirk. I don’t think many of the Kingston fan-base made the trip to Falkirk, but after just one year, the franchise returned south in 1989 restored as Kingston Kings, finally settling in Guildford as Guildford Kings 1992-94.

(Never one to pass up the chance for a cheap laugh, they don’t name teams like they used to. It is such a shame that they were different names for the same franchise. as who wouldn’t  have paid good money to see Slick Willie’s YMCA Mets  take on Kelly Girls International, Kingston?)

You don’t build a loyal fan base by changing you name, or your home venue or both every couple of years.  That’s more the behaviour of a criminal on the run.  Football clubs don’t do it, at least not very successfully as a rule.  Fans of Wimbledon were so infuriated when the new owners took the club to Milton Keynes and became the MK Dons, that they started their own club AFC Wimbledon. In 1913 Woolwich Arsenal moved to a new home in North London, dropping the Woolwich to become Arsenal. I suppose they haven’t done too badly, but apart from moving from Highbury to their new stadium, they haven’t changed name nor moved home every couple of years.

Better than I remembered

There is this nice feeling of giving everyone a chance at the Commonwealth Games. In part this is due to the fact that all the competing countries fall into the “I-do-not-mind-if-(insert name or nationality here)-wins” category. So, for example, if at the Olympics Team GB are not in medal competition I’d quite like the Aussie/Kiwi/Canadian athlete to do well. As these alternates are generally from the Commonwealth, I am spoilt for choice.

In 1986 there was a boycott by a lot of countries and this meant in the athletics there was a bit of a struggle to fill all the lanes in every event. Just like a southern league fixture for SLH. And so it came to pass only six teams lined up for the men’s 4 x 400m relay.

“What’s that? Northern Ireland have dropped out?”

Okay five teams. Hosts Scotland, The Aussies (who perpetuate the national stereotype by having a runner named ‘Bruce’), Canada, England and … Botswana!

Not one of the local nations, Wales, or Jersey.  No. Botswana with a team made up of two sprinters, a middle distance runner and a marathon runner, that’s right a MARATHON runner, Bigboy Josie Matlapeng who had a time of 2:24:05

If this were a Disney film a calamatious final change-over would see all the other teams dropping their batons leaving our heroic marathon runner to pick his was through the mayhem, like a human Foinavon in the 1967 Grand NationalPathe News

But this was not to be. I think the Botswanan team were disqualified for two false starts. How pedantic of the officials; or how professional of the officials not to patronise the Botswanan team

Rank Nation    Athletes                                                                                                   Time
1st.    England (Kriss Akabusi, Roger Black, Todd Bennett, Phil Brown).             3:07.19
2nd.  Australia (Bruce Frayne, Miles Murphy, David Johnston, Darren Clark ) 3:07.81
3rd.  Canada (Anton Skerritt, Andre Smith, John Graham, Atlee Mahorn).        3:08.69
4th.   Scotland (Martin Johnston, Tom McKean, Paul Forbes, Brian Whittle).    3:18.03
DSQ. Botswana (Sunday Maweni, Joseph Ramotshabi, Zacharia Machangani, Bigboy Matlapeng)
DNS. Northern Ireland

Best disqualified relay team ever! Botswana


You wait six months and then three come along at once…

It has been a difficult start to the year for reasons too tedious to dwell on,  so I shall not dwell on them.  Let’s talk sport. This winter has seen the Winter Olympics from South Korea, the Paralympic winter games and this week, The start of the Commonwealth Games from The Gold Coast of Australia.

Best place name ever: Townsville. I wonder how long that Council meeting took?

The Winter Olympics and the Commonwealth Games provide a welcome comparison. One of them was played out to a backdrop of political tension over nuclear missile testing. The other exudes all the anxiety of a school sports day and village fete.

Some have greatness thrust upon them: Flora Duffy, representing Bermuda won the woman’s triathlon. She was the favourite to do so, but here are two lovely touches. It was Bermuda’s first ever Commonwealth Games Gold Medal, but it gets better, if , like me, you love a trivial statistic.  This was Bermuda’s first Comm Games medal since their men’s doubles team won silver in Ten Pin bowling in 1998.  The best is yet to come.  Due to the event timings, it was the first gold medal if the 2018 games to be won.  So for a few minutes Bermuda topped the medal table, albeit briefly.

It was fun while it lasted for Bermuda’s 64,000 citizens until they were overtaken on the table a few hours later by a pair of weightlifters from India, population 1.3 billion.  Then the pool opened and normal service was resumed with Australia and England carving up the golds…


Why 13?

Triskaidekaphobia: a fear of the number thirteen.
The origins of this phobia are lost in the mists of time. Some blame Judas, saying he was the thirteenth and final diner at the Last Supper, although the Bible does not reveal the order the guests were seated, and in other areas the number 13 has no such negative connotations.
Babylonian sources are cited by others, but again there is no hard evidence.
Once the belief is established it is easy to retrofit the significant of 13. Take Apollo 13. Launched on April 11th 1970 at 13:13, there was an explosion in an oxygen tank on April 13th at 21:07. How could they have been so careless?The events that led to the explosion were set in motion long before the launch, so again the significance of 13 is dubious.
There are 13 stairs in our house. Thirteen steep, narrow, creaking and sloping steps. For years I could bound up and down the stairs, so long as I minded my head on the low bit of ceiling halfway down. Now, thanks to my constant burdened PD the stairs can be an ordeal in several ways.
Going up?
The last four steps coming at the end throw my balance off as they slope down from back to front. Going up the stairs I can fit from tip of my toe to the ball of my foot,so there is nothing to support my heels. Sometimes, as I cling on to the hand rail I ponder how easy it will be to hire a couple of Sherpas.
Coming down stairs I adopt a crablike method. On the plus side I get to put my whole foot on the step, but even as I cling to the handrail, the downside is the need to cross legs. Even then around step 7 the low ceiling knocks me out of my stride. I have been known to twist round so I am sitting, and I lower right foot, left foot, then lower my bottom, repeat, until I am in position for My Much Better half to raise me to a standing position.
Triskaidekaphobia: a fear of the number thirteen.
The Greek for stair or step is vimata, so maybe
Triskaidekavimataphobia is a rear of thirteen: a fear of thirteen.
All slopes, gradients and general deviations from horizontal, referred to in this post are real, just because I am the only one to detect them does not make me unbalanced.

It can’t possibly get any worse…

  • If Parkinson’s was a comedian, it would be one with an impeccable sense of timing.  Take this morning, no really, I kept the receipt, so take it back. It sure ain’t what I ordered.
    First somehow, when I woke about 5:15,I had managed to get to sleep lying on my left hand side, rendering 50% of me as almost totally useless. I tossed and turned, wriggled and jiffiled, and called out feebly for Mary. It was 6 o’clock when she heard me and helped me up-was worn out. I slumped back onto the bed, took a moment and worked out when my tablets were due… I take them at 7:30 and it was 6:45 The three quarters of an hour is easily filled with putting some clothes on, over my pyjamas to keep me warm. My socks ganged up on me and were inside out so fixing that took an age. I take my tablets, wait til they kick in a bit, and then attempt the descent of the stairs. The fates are smiling on me and I scamper down them. (The word scamper is used ironically, as a shorthand for, by clinging on to the hand rail and with the speed and agility of an arthritic sloth. That’s just in case anyone from the DWP or any PiP assessors are reading this.) I breakfast on toast and, having checked when the cab we share to Yoga is due (10:20) begin to get ready slowly, while my much better half whizzes and zips around me, (not literally, just relatively to my movement) She swims on a Monday morning and leaves at 9:40.
    I am partially dressed for Yoga and have half an hour to finish get ready. My tablet is due at 10, but has already passed its high point. (I’m not sure using the word ‘high’ in a paragraph about drugs…) with a strength sapping effort, I manage to get off the loo. Now to finish dressing. All I am lacking is my yoga toe socks, with the grippy soles, ordinary socks, a pair of loose fitting tracksuit bottoms, my Velcro fastening trainers. I start to tremor. This makes putting my toe sox doubtful, especially as I didn’t turn them out properly. Panic rising, making me shakier. I ditch the grippy sole toe socks and focus on getting my ordinary socks on and simultaneously sending a message that says I might not be ready…
    Try as I might I can’t get the socks on and with too many items missing I give up and wave the cab goodbye.
    By 11 when the class starts, my tablet has kicked in and, no longer up against a deadline, my tremor is much reduced. By ten past I am in my lounge around at home outfit. I spend the morning, at home, feeling sorry for my self.
    Now you might think that my afternoon has to be better. Yeah right. Firstly I just manage to finish my lunch before I fall asleep. It’s a side effect, but an annoying one. This time when I do wake up my Much Better half noticed my apple core had slipped off my plate before she took the plate from me. I’d been sitting on it ever since!
    Now you might think that my afternoon couldn’t possibly get any worse. Yeah right. My Much Better half left for an appointment , she’d be gone for about an hour. . I decided I had time to “nip” to the loo, before my 15:00 tablet. For some reason today, how can I put this, ‘my docking manoeuvre’, left me at the wrong angle; try as I might, I couldn’t push myself up. So there I was, “on the throne” for the next hour and a quarter, during that time I tried and failed many times, until I gave up and waited for my Much Better half returned.
    Now you might think my evening couldn’t be worse than my afternoon…
    It’s now 7:20 and nothing has happened yet…
    I have written this in the hope that if someone, somewhere who is having a really bad day, might just read this, have a laugh at my expense and feel a bit better, then my struggles won’t have been in vain.