Highlights: Switzerland vs. Ukraine

Below are the key highlights from last night’s Switzerland vs. Ukraine match, for those who missed it.

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Mark Lawrenson

Another somewhat lacklustre performance by England yesterday afternoon against Ecuador, but three wins and a draw mean that we’re only three wins away from winning the World Cup.

The highlight of the game from the commentary side was Mark Lawrenson’s hysterical background laughter when Motson pointed out that a replay of Beckham looking somewhat ill in the middle of the pitch was edited highlights. (Beckham had earlier been seen throwing up on the pitch.)

The most annoying thing about the commentary is Lawrenson’s indecision as to whether he’s a northerner or a southerner. When saying Cole, in reference to either Ashley or Joe, his effort is tortuous. It almost sounds like curl. Make your mind up, Mark!

Blog and Wikipedia

I’ve been surprised twice recently by people’s ignorance of what I thought were commonplace words. The words were blog and Wikipedia, not known by two separate people in the work context. I was of the view that both words (or should I say a word and a brand) had received sufficient news coverage of late to be close to ubiquitous.

Scabs

The human body often astounds me. I recently slipped while helping someone put a sofa-bed in his van (see post below), creating a nasty wound on my inner elbow. It’s around four inches by 1.5 inches, in that awkward place that makes it difficult to heal due to the flexing skin.

Anyway, healing it is doing. It’s fascinating to see the scab that formed within 24 hours of the accident reduce in size, as the surrounding skin regenerates around it. It’s now down to around 2" by 1", and I still feel the blood pumping harder to that area, feeding it back to full fitness. If someone could keep still for long enough, it would be fascinating to see time-lapse photography showing how a wound heals over time.

Lambeth Council’s bulky rubbish collection anathema

Statistics are sometimes produced detailing the average number of times an individual interacts with government per year. Recently, I have single-handedly increased this figure by a significant amount, although my statistics may not be used in future reports, as outliers may be removed.

My ‘conversation’ has been with my local council, Lambeth. They have a bulky rubbish collection scheme, whereby Council Tax payers (of which I am one) can get up to eight specified bulky items removed from outside their property, four times per year. We needed to discard some belongings, so I decided to invoke this service.

On their first visit, they took the bed and mattress, which I’d left outside our railings, but didn’t bother with the two sofas and broken TV that were sat inside the railings. While they specify a day of collection, their policy is ‘any time between 6.30am and 6.30pm’, and the lady I spoke to in order to arrange the collection clearly told me to put my belongings ‘in your front garden’ the night before, as the collectors can arrive very early.

Despite phone calls every other day to Lambeth Council (I leave a day in between calls to confirm that their promise to come back the following day is indeed pure hokum), I am still left with a broken TV adorning the front of our house. The sofas only disappeared because a guy walking past on Sunday liked the look of them, and came back with his van to pick them up.

I was promised this morning that the TV would be taken away today. I’m not holding my breath.

Whom is the sex offenders’ register for?

The sex offenders’ register has been in and out of the news for some time now. Recently, John Reid made the vote-winning decision to make the register publicly available, which is dangerous. I’m not sure what benefit this has to the general public. The fact that a 16-year-old who is found guilty of having sex with someone one year his or her junior is given the same status as Jonathan King makes the single-tiered nature of the register nonsensical.

And which crimes should have an associated register and which should not? Should there be a murderers register? A rapists register? A burglars register? If its purpose is to flag people who put the general public at risk, then this suggests that the government has failed in its rehabilitation of these people, an element of the sentence that is sadly overlooked.

Also, alas, the British public is not sufficiently competent to use the data appropriately. A household in Scotland recently suffered untold abuse because it was found to contain a paediatrician.

On a related point, the BBC punctuates the register such: the sex offender’s register. I think this implies that it is a register for the sex offender. I would argue that it is a register of sex offenders, so the apostrophe should succeed the S. Or else it has become sufficiently prevalent a term not to warrant an apostrophe at all.

GNER

This weekend, I’m venturing up to Halifax to see my Mum, and hopefully to see my Dad. A couple of years ago, I would have hopped into my VW Beetle Cabriolet and enjoyed the beautiful evening with the top down all the way. Alas, I no longer have a car, so I opted for the train, the only reasonable alternative.

Great North Eastern Railways’ price for the London to Leeds return has increased by 37.5% in the last two years, from £60 to £82.50, an annual increase of 17.3%. I saw a news story about concerns over inflation recently, but I wasn’t aware it was this bad. The price of a can of XXXX hasn’t shifted much, however.

It’s fast and smooth though, which I have to say I’m impressed with. And we just passed Emirates Stadium, which certainly looks impressive from the outside.

The Gallup singles chart

Today, I destroyed someone’s world. That someone is Rusty, a friend of Ben’s. Here’s the story.

Rusty is a music aficionado. His musical knowledge seems to be on a par with that of Steve, and indeed that of my wife. While he doesn’t know the surname of Charles, nor that of Eddie, he is confident that Nu Shooz’ I Can’t Wait topped out at Number 3 in August 1986, a fact that I have neither the will nor inclination to challenge.

Tonight, however, I destroyed his world, in claiming that the UK Singles chart was not based on sales for that specific week, but was instead based upon the total sales to date divided by the number of weeks for which the single had been available. This explains why singles don’t drop straight out of the charts; instead they gradually fall down the rankings.

For someone who prides himself on knowing chart facts, this came as a body-blow. The whole foundation of his knowledge came into question. I am struggling to find evidence of the fact, but I firmly believe it to be true. It’s now 12.45am, and I’m getting up at 6am, so the research will have to come later.

Department stores’ apostrophes

Apostrophes in department stores were scarce two years ago before I left the UK. Now, they’re non-existent. If you want men’s clothes, follow the Mens sign; for women’s clothes, follow the arrow to Womens.

Dreadful.

The World Cup, highlights to date

It’s been quite a week of football. England were dismal in the second half against Paraguay, but as Ben said, it was as if Paraguay wanted to lose. And we were less than convincing against Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday, which is when the World Cup started to come alive for me.

Last night, though, saw a cracking game between the US and Italy. The USA dominated the first period, before Italy’s impressive goal from a free-kick against the run of play. The USA’s equaliser came from a bizarre attempted clearance from Italy’s Zaccardo, before Daniele de Rossi’s heinous mid-air elbow in the face of Brian McBride resulted in his sending off. There is no place in football for such mindless acts, and in my view, he should have been ejected from the entire competition there and then.

The other two sending off incidents were not particularly malicious, but the decisions were probably justified, leaving the US facing ten-man Italy with only nine men of their own for the last 45 minutes. It was a cracking game, and the US held on to secure a well-deserved point.

Earlier in the day, Ghana were hugely impressive against the Czech Republic, and more than justified their 2-0 win. It would be great to see them in the last 16.

Roll on Tuesday at 8pm: hopefully England can up their game to get a result out of their match against Sweden, giving them top spot in the group. Whether top spot is the best place for England to be may be determined by the Germany vs. Ecuador match earlier that afternoon. Either way, we have at least two matches left in this World Cup; Italy can’t say the same just yet.

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