Saturday, 11 December 2010

A silver Peugeot 206

Is what I'm unfortunate enough to own. A car which has had more surgery than Owen Hargreaves and has had more parts fall off it than Michael Jackson. Sure, I'm lucky to have my own car, but when you consider all the hassle it's caused, you'd have to say I made a bad choice.
From a very young age the 206 appealed to me. I'm not sure why, I think it was something to do with the lights looking cool. As a 16-year-old with the prospect of driving prominent in my thoughts, a respectable car was a must. To fit in with, or maybe even to stand out from society, I thought a few modifications were essential. So when a guy a few years older than me at my cricket club rocked up with 'For Sale' signs in his done-up 206, I expressed my interest.
Soon after, the car was mine. And how I loved it. It had tinted windows, changed front lights and changed back lights. Not the crap sort you see on a lot of 206s either, these were rarer, better, eye-catching. In addition to these things, there were minor things that went a long way to helping the aesthetics of the car. Things such as a spoiler, alloy wheels and silver bumpers instead of the standard black ones. It even came wth an ipod dock so I didn't have to make any CDs, all my music was instantly there.
But my favourite thing about the car is, rather strangely, also the thing that's caused me the most hassle of all. The exhaust on my car is amazing. It sounds incredible when you get up above three thousand revs, yet is quiet when youre cruising along a back street. It's given me countless thrills, and many other people have commented on it. However today, on the M25, my exhaust fell off for the third time since being in my possession.
It could not have come at a worse time, either, as I was already running late, and pushing the time limits very fine as I attempted to get to Loftus Road in time to watch Queens Park Rangers play Watford. Before I got headed there though, I had to pick up Harry, which meant leaving the M25 and heading down the M3. Just as I moved into the inside lane in preparation for taking the sliproad, I heard the dreaded crunch that I'd feared may have been coming for a few weeks.
Now, it's important to note that the two previous times my exhaust's fallen off, it fell completely clean off. Once in Farnborough Sixth Form car park, and once at a busy roundabout near where I live. If it fell off in the same manner this time, it would have been smashed at 60mph by the car following me, and all hell could have broken loose. I was playing music fairly loud at the time, but the noise was unmistakable, and I immediately moved on to the hard shoulder, fearing what may have happened.
Thankfully, I got out of my car and moved round to the back of it to see the exhaust still connected, but dragging along the ground. The pipe that goes beneath the car had come apart, and was being held in place by just one loop of metal, wealded rather thinly to the car. Here lay a problem though, as I couldn't pull the exhaust clean from the car, meaning it was just going to drag along the floor. I was in trouble. On most Friday evenings this'd be a serious pain in the backside, but with a football game to get to and a mate relying on me to get him there, I was cursing anything and everything.
Time to do what I always do in times of need. Call Father. Sitting back in the car, I explained the situation, but didn't receive much help as Dad said he was off to a wedding reception with friends and couldn't do anything about it. He suggested pulling it off, but having already tried, I didn't think it was possible. Driving home wasn't really an option either as it was painful just moving at 5mph. And even if I did get it home, there was no way I could get back up to London to watch the football. Just my luck.
But as I hung up the phone, I heard a ping and I knew things had changed. It had fallen off. I quickly stopped and raced back to pick it up. Now, the first two times it fell off, it was only about three feet long. The end bit, the catalytic converter, and a small amount of pipe. That could fit easily in my boot. This time however, it was different. The whole thing must have been a good eight feet long, and fitting it in the car took bloody ages. Eventually, after a lot of faffing around, I managed to put the bulky end in the passenger seat footwell, with the pipe running straight through the middle of the car; the end scraping on the rear window.
Thankfully, that was the end of the drama, apart from an obscene amount of traffic on the remaining way home, and then on the way into London. We got into the ground about ten minutes after kick off, but given everything that had happened, it wasn't a bad result at all. Oh and Watford won as well, which was good as we were supporting them.
It hasn't been a good few weeks for my car, although to be fair to it, it's not been entirely its fault. I must accept some blame for being a complete mug when driving to Birmingham two weeks ago to watch Aston Villa play Arsenal.
With Charlie in the car, the banter was good as we made our way up the M40 on a very crisp winter's morning. A small amount of snow had fallen over night, and as I sped up the outside lane, it became increasingly white. Then the car seemed to lose power. At first I wasn't overly bothered, as I thought I'd taken my foot off the accelerator slightly. And when I pressed down on the accelerator and nothing happened, I thought, 'OK, the snow must be causing my tyres to lose grip, I'll move into the middle lane.'
Only when the accelerator still didn't work did it hit me. Surely not. It couldn't be. Please no. I looked at the dashboard and my worst fear had been confirmed. The petrol dial had hit rock bottom and I never noticed. I couldn't believe it. I was lost for words. Charlie was wetting himself while I racked my brain thinking of something to say or do. In conjunction with my view that Father can solve anything, I rang him. He explained how it 'happens to the best of us', and I should go to one of the orange road side phones and take it from there.
Eighty minutes and £138.65 later, we were back up and running. Thankfully, unlike today, we were in plenty of time, and still managed to arrive at Villa Park an hour early. Quality game it was too.
You might think that to run out of petrol one day, and have your exhaust fall off two weeks later was enough hassle, but no. Not for my 206. In the weekend between the two events, I wasn't given the chance to run out of petrol or have my exhaust fall off, because my car refused to start. I knocked on doors for jump leads, but to no avail, and eventually I ended up having to take the train home. What a nightmare that was, too, as I left Eastbourne station at 1835 on a journey that'd normally take a little over two hours. I arrived at Farnborough Main at 0050. Good lord.
Thankfully my return trip went as it should, but I came back to a car that still wouldn't start. A special mention must go to Callum as he helped me find jump leads on Wednesday evening. After a couple of false starts, the Peugeot lived again.
But is that really a good thing? Sometimes I think it'd be better if the little thing popped its clogs. Until I get some money, it'll have to stay, but I wonder what'll go wrong next. In addition what I've already said, I've had to get a new clutch after it refused to go into first gear; I had to get new brakes fitted after the front two failed, making stopping almost impossible. Those back lights I told you I really liked, well they sometimes worked, sometimes didn't. No rhyme or reason as to why and when they worked or not, but I've gone back to the standard lights now, which look average, but at least work the whole time.
Anything else? Not sure, I don't think so. That's probably it. I'll be sad to see it go when it finally does, I've done 37,000 miles in it so far, it's taken me from Eastbourne to Manchester, Portsmouth to Derby, as well as many places in between. I do love it, but it's crap. I wouldn't be at all surprised if one day it all fell apart leaving me just sitting in the seat thinking 'why did I buy this silver Peugeot 206?'

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Nuthouse Nutters.

Four games into the season, I think it's about time the exploits of Eastbourne's latest pool team were put down in writing. As the team I played for last year disbanded, I took it upon myself to create a new team, backed by 28 Carew Road. Having emailed the league chairman and got a home table sorted out, October 21st saw the beginning of a pool dynasty that would take the game to new heights.
Or maybe not. Our first game saw us lose 7-3 to the Corn Exchange. There were wins for Ewan, Callum, and Danny, but Jamie and myself were left wondering what might have been. The next week, rather coincidently, pitted us against the same team, but this time in the League Cup. A chance to put the record straight. We had a slight change in personnel for this game, as Ewan decided to go to a gymnastics class instead. The hours leading up to the game were a bit frantic, but finally, Alex Irani was drafted in to replace him.
"I'll do you a favour this week, Pikey, but I doubt I'll play anymore games," said the man from Mumbai.
We rocked up, played a quick practice frame to get used to the table, then it was time for business. I selected Jamie to go first, and he repaid my confidence, making a top-drawer five-ball clearance to put us 1-0 up. Next up was Danny, whose style we'll come back to later. After a couple of a chances each way, Danny took control, making it 2-0. Normally I save myself for either fourth or fifth in the rotation, but I decided that if I could make it 3-0, we'd be in a very strong position. I played one of the guys who'd beaten me the previous week, but I got my own back fairly comfortably, and did indeed make it 3-0. There had been talk of going out to TJs if we won that night, and at 3-0, it looked a distinct possibility.
Next up was Callum, who played the oppostion captain. As to be expected, he was a fairly good player, and dragged it back to 3-1, despite Callum's best efforts. Step forward the ringer coming in for one week only as he was "not great" at pool. Alex got off to a fast start, sweeping around the table; potting balls in every direction. Aided by the fact that his opponent was only slightly better than your Grandma, Alex ran riot, easily making it 4-1. At the half way stage, with the prospect of an easy victory, the TJs idea seemed to fade.
As we sat eating the half-time food, it gave us a chance to fully appreciate what we were sharing the room with. At the other end of the room, there sat a DJ table, with two old men sitting a yard away from each other. Clearly, the idea was a karaoke night. In reality, in the two-and-a-half hours that we were there, not one single person went anywhere near them. In addition to the complete lack of interest from other people, the men themselves seemed utterly lost. Not once did one speak to the other, instead they just sat and stared into space.
But anyway, back to the pool. Any complacency we had at 4-1 was quickly eradicated, as Jamie, Callum, and then Danny all lost, making it 4-4. Tension City. Needing just one frame to be guaranteed at least a tie, I thought it'd be better if I played the ninth frame, with the intention of winning, then leaving Alex freerolling in the tenth. As it happened, I could easily have lost the ninth as, after a fast start, I fouled, leaving my opponent with a very makeable clearance opportunity. Just as I was resigned to losing, he missed his last colour, which gave me the opportunity to clear. I held my nerve and did so. The opposition captain stepped up again in the tenth, never really giving Alex an opportunity, and so it went 5-5. In a league match, that'd be the result, but as it was the Cup, obviously a tie-break frame was played.
I nominated myself to play, and the Corn Exchange put forward the guy whose league record was ten wins from ten games. He wasn't unbeatable though, as he was the player Jamie beat in the first game. I broke, and potted. I continued with that colour, potting one more ball before playing a decent safety. He had few options, and played a poor shot which left me in. I potted three more balls before again playing a good safety. Under big pressure, he again faltered, leaving me with the opportunity to clear. Both my coloured balls were near the black spot, with the black ball also around there. The cue ball was near the corner pocket at that end of the table. I set myself, then rolled the first, and toughest, ball into the middle, leaving myself with the perfect angle on the final colour to the opposite middle. The adrenaline caused me to put slightly more backspin on the white than I intended, but the colour went in and I couldn't complain about the shot I had to win the game. I rolled it in and gave a small punch to the air. Very satisfactory - pretty much the perfect game when it mattered most.
Such was the nature of our win, TJs was back on the cards. Not really my favourite choice of spending a night, but off we went, mingling with the black men, the Turkish men, the men in their forties, the men with no hope in life, the slags looking for black men, the Polish girls, basically everyone that I find a bit scary and don't want to associate with. But it was a funny night, culminating in a road sign finding its way into our kitchen.
The next week saw us play Victoria 07. Fair to say, luck wasn't on our side. Ewan won the first frame of the night, and I won the last frame of the night. But I did so whilst on tilt as we lost the eight frames in between. The less said about that, the better.
Last Thursday saw us play Sharky's Spartans, and we began the game having won just five of our previous 20 league frames. Ewan had two of those victories, and he took his total to three after the first frame. Jamie was up next, and should have made it 2-0, but instead it went 1-1. We'll come back to that later. Callum went third, and was in a similar situation to Jamie - probably should have won but didn't. I then lost as well, something which we'll also come back to.
So we were 3-1 down, and it was a familiar story, losing frames we shouldn't have. Alex dragged it back to 3-2,  before Ewan continued his good form, making it 3-3, although it's fair to say he got a little lucky as his opponent potted the white in the same shot as the black. Not something that happens very often, but remarkably it happened again the very next frame. Jamie was the beneficiary this time, profiting from a dreadful shot by his opponent. Lucky? Quite possibly, but I didn't feel it was undeserved. So we were 4-3 up when I put Alex in. He did exactly what I wanted him to, which left us with two frames to get the all important sixth win. I took my customary ninth frame spot, and despite a horrible frame which had no flow, I scraped over the line, giving us our first league win of the season. Callum finished the match with a flourish, making the score a resounding 7-3.
It's currently 1939 on Tuesday night, we're just about to go play a rearranged fixture against another Nuthouse team. Local derby time. Back in a bit.
Back. Thoroughly pissed off as well. We just lost 9-1, and deserved to as well. Hopefully Thursday will go better.
It's now Thursday, we lost again, this time 6-4. I don't really want to talk about that, so I'm gona do some squad profiles instead.
Chris Pike, captain. League record 5-5 (oh dear), cup record 3-0 (that's more like it).
Depends on the day, but if I'm playing well I'd like to think I can give anyone a decent game.
Highlight of the season: The near perfect frame to win the decider in the Cup game against the Corn Exchange.
Donkament of the season: After a very nice five-ball clearance of my colours, I left myself a semi-difficult pot on the black. I'd expect myself to pot it maybe six or seven times out of ten, but on the back of a decent potting spree, I was confident. I got down, struck the white and... completely aired it. I didn't even hit the black, let alone pot it. My opponent went on to clear up, and I headbutted a fruit machine.
Jamie Whitlock, vice-captain. League record 2-8, cup record 1-1.
Better than his record suggests, but lacks the killer instinct.
Highlight of the season: A very impressive five-ball clearance in the cup win against Corn Exchange, which got us off to a good start.
Donkament of the season: With his last red over the corner pocket, and black over the middle pocket on the same side, he was in prime position. His opponent had three balls left, all blocking the path from the red to the black. So, a simple screw back was required, and there was a good three feet's worth of margin for error. But Jamie shanked it, left himself snookered, missed the black, and his opponent somehow cleared up.
Callum Thompson. League record 2-5, cup record 0-2.
A mixed bag of good stuff and bad stuff.
Highlight of the season: Lovely little clearance to put the finishing touches to a 7-3 league win over Sharky's Spartans.
Donkament of the season: Struggling a bit here, apart from the odd missed easy pot. I'm gona be slightly paradoxical and have Callum's donkament as a game he actually won. His opponent broke off and potted a yellow, but snookered himself on all other yellows. Slightly annoyed, he decided to smash the balls, hoping for them to fall more kindly than they had to start with. Unfortunately for him, having chosen reds, he potted two more yellows, so before Callum had even come to the table, three of his balls had been potted. Callum played one shot and missed, but left it tough for his opponent. Under some self-imposed pressure, the guy messed up again, this time potting the black, handing Callum victory on a plate.
Ewan Mcfarlane. League record 4-5, cup record n/a.
Resident snooker player.
Highlight of the season: Decent clearance in the first game at Victoria. Sadly that preceded eight striaght losses for us.
Donkament of the season: Having potted his first six balls in one go, Ewan missed his last ball about 14 times, almost gifting his opponent the frame. Thankfully he scraped over the line against Sharky's.
Danny Saunders. League record 1-3, cup record 1-1.
Re-Christened Smasher Saunders after his style of play, Danny possesses one of the best eyes in the team, but sometimes lacks the cue ball control.
Highlight of the season: In the Cup match at Corn Exchange, Smasher smashed pot after pot, on his way to putting us up 2-0 and in a strong position.
Donkament of the season: Along with Jamie's shot against Sharky's, against Victoria, Smasher played one of the worst positional shots I've ever seen. With his final colour over the middle, and the black over a corner on the same side of the table, all Smasher needed to do was screw back three inches, as his opponent had a ball near the cushion between the colour and black, blocking Smasher's path. But for the only time all season, Smasher didn't smash it, on one of the occasions in which he should have. He rolled it in, leaving himself snookered on the black. He missed, and his dreadful opponent cleared up.
Alex Irani. League record 3-3, cup record 1-1
Typical Irani really, big heart, big mouth, big banter.
Highlight of the season: I could say strolling round the table potting balls for fun against Corn Exchange, but I'm gona go for something slightly different. Having come into the side as a very late call up, Alex seemed rather relaxed and underwhelmed by the prospect of playing pool in a team. As quoted earlier, he wasn't massively up for it. An hour later he was rapt, and that evening was talking tactics about the next week's game. Part of the team.
Donkament of the season: Apart from playing rather average in a couple of frames, he hasn't done too much wrong. So it's gona have to be his reaction to missing a pot in a game a few weeks ago. To put it simply, he turned away from the table, walked up to the wall, and gave the radiator and almighty boot. That's passion. Or maybe just annoyance. One of the two.
Adam Toulson. League record 0-2, cup record n/a.
After a long time in the wilderness, the Gecko finally made an appearance last Thursday against Martello. Expectations were high, but sadly the pressure was too much. Toulson's performance reflected the way he looked. Rusty, untidy and in need of improvement.
Highlight of the season: n/a.
Donkament of the season: Remarkably, it's not getting seven-balled. He never really had a chance in that frame, but in his second frame he was given a huge opportunity to clear, but lack of practice meant he rattled one, leaving his opponent clear on the black.
Despite my rather harsh view on the Gecko's play, it's only because I know him to be a very good player, and I've every confidence he'll do a much better job if he returns to the Nutters.
So that's it. We're now six games into the season we have two wins and four defeats. We've had some varying levels of performance, but I'm confident that if we play to our ability, the Nuthouse D pool team be a solid midtable side. Next game's this Thursday, ciao for now.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

An unlikely match.

The Police. La Policia. The LAPD. The NYPD. The Feds. The Coppers. The Po-Pos. The Pigs. The Fuzz.
The list goes on. Not the general public's favourite group of people, although possibly that only applies to those with a guilty conscience, which I probably have. Especially when driving.
Monday night saw me apprehended once again for what the officer considered to be evasive driving. In reality, I was out picking mates up at 3am on popular student night in Eastbourne. Having picked two people up, I wasn't sure about what to do with the others, who seemed to have gone elsewhere. I pulled up at some traffic lights at a crossroad, and saw one of the people I thought I was picking up on the other side of the road. When the lights turned green, I turned right, then instantly pulled up on the side of the road to speak to Jamie. After he explained that he was off to find Henry, I moved away. A car had been waiting behind me at the traffic lights, on the road that I had just joined. It wasn't long before I had the dreaded blue flashes filling up my rear-view mirror. Over I pulled. I quickly made sure I knew where my phone was, and put it out of sight, before winding the window down.
"Allo mate, dya wana step out a minute." Out I got, not really knowing what I'd done, other than perhaps blocking the road when I spoke to Jamie.
"Right, basically mate, we've seen you pull over at the side of the road, possibly having just seen us. If you have any reason you shouldn't be on the road, or you don't wana get caught, it'd be fairly common to pull over in the hope that we'd pass you by, dya understand?"
"Yeah yeah, sure, but no, I duno if you saw me speaking to a guy at the side of the road?"
"Oh ok, well I'm just out picking a few mates up, I've got a couple of them already, but the others have disappeared, so we're just trying to find them."
"Right OK, well I'm gona have to breathalise you anyway, have you had anything to drink tonight?"
"And no mouthwash, cos that stuff can tamper with the device."
"No, only a McDonald's and a Fanta."
"Good, OK well take a deep breath and blow when you're ready. Keep going, keep going. OK." He looked at his fellow officer who also saw the reading.
"OK, thanks, I'll let you go, have a good night."
"Cheers, you too."
I got back into the car and was met by howls of laughter by Scott, who may or may not have realised that that was the third time I'd been breathalised in my life, and probably eleventh or twelfth time I'd been pulled over, and so I wasn't really bothered. Indeed. Not really something to be proud of, but I've been stopped for some fairly mundane things, like having rear lights out, having a dodgy-looking car, and just random stop checks.
I've also been done for doing 60 in a 40, however, as it was 2am on a Sunday night, and I was all alone on a dual carriageway, they said be careful and let me go. On the other end of the scale, I got caught doing almost double a 30 limit, on the wrong side of the road. I thought I was for it, it has to be said. Before you think I'm a complete nutter, here's a brief explanation.
In Eastbourne there is one of the widest roads I've ever come across. Cars can comfortably park on either side of it, and when vans are delivering goods or whatever, they even sometimes park next to cars that have already parked, as there's still plenty of room for moving traffic. Despite the width of the road, it's only a 30-limit as there are houses all along it, and the general weight of traffic means gaining much speed is often impossible. However, it was about 10pm, and there were very few cars out. Adam and I had been playing pool, and were making the mile-long journey back home. As there weren't many cars about, I decided not to waste time, and got up to about 45mph, when a car pulled out directly in front of me. I could easily have braked, but I could see there was no traffic coming in the opposite direction, so I overtook the car and went on the wrong side of a bollard before pulling back in.
Unfortunately for me, a police car had appeared behind me just as I carried out the manoeuvre, and was quickly up my backside with its flashers going. I feared the worst. Thankfully, the officer explained that as he had no camera in the car to record my speed, I couldn't be done for speeding, but I did get a serious telling-off, a fine, and a Section 59 warning. The warning equated to anti-social behaviour in a car and, if coupled with another one within a year, would give the police the power to seize my car on the spot, until I paid a substantial fine to release it.
So really, some of the things I've been caught doing, let alone not caught doing, make the things I got banned for pale into insignificance. Firstly, a 30-limit dual carriageway. Yes, you saw that right. How ridiculous. Southampton town centre, completely lost, in the dark and rain, looking for the Uni. Got up through the gears, didn't think I was going fast at all, didn't see the camera as I concentrating so hard on reading signs, bang, got me. Not happy.
Secondly, again lost, this time in Polegate high street, on my way to pick Adam up from playing squash. It was about 5pm, and the road was rammed. No-one moving anywhere. I phoned Adam to try and get directions for when I finally got moving. Undercover BMW going the other way saw me, and smashed me up. You need to have been on the road for 24 months for your six point limit to be turned into 12. I'd been on the road 23 months and a week. Cheers for that.
I was told that I was allowed to continue driving until I received a letter from the DVLA. That was on October 2nd. The letter arrived on February 27th. Fantastic work by them. Four-and-a-half months it took me to get back on the road, what a pain it was too.
So you'd think that with all this experience on the wrong side of the police that I'd hate them with a passion. In fact the opposite is true, and it is my ambition to become a police officer when I leave Uni. There are fewer things I'd rather do for a job than drive around in a beasty car, pulling over scum like me. I like to think I can take banter well, and have a knack for words, which might help me fit in with the cool guys when I try to find out what shit they're up to. I believe that if you're a policeman that is approachable and can be seen to have a laugh with any member of the public, people, criminal or innocent, will be more inclined to go along with what you ask.
Bit of an average blog, that, but I fancied it so there you go. Now for some sleep before lectures this afternoon. Cya.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Life at 28 Carew Road.

Well, the talk of the house for the last week or so has been all about whether I'm going to do a blog on each housemate. I'm still undecided on that front, so for now, this will have to do.
I'm currently sitting in bed in my room which is full of slightly odd furniture but has one of the best views for miles around. I dont spend much time in here, and that's backed up by the fact that I have pretty much no possessions in here whatsoever. The entire room is empty apart from a fair selection of clothes spread all over the floor, and a rather large collection of rubbish that, at some point in the next few months, I may get round to clearing up. Emphasis on may.
Moving upstairs, the lounge in this house is probably my favourite ever room. The converted loft, with sloping ceilings and even better view my bedroom, provides a perfect retreat for relaxing with my mates and cracking out the banter.
Indoor cricket and indoor bowls have both taken place up there, although not so much in recent times. The past month has seen the Xbox and the Wii take over people's spare time. Not that I really care about either of those things though, apart from three-point shooting on the Wii, but I guess we're all allowed our little pleasures. As for Becky, it's definitely the Wii baseball. If she ever gets her hands on the controller, it's highly likely she'll be swinging her arms around like a madman.
Jamie prefers a spot of Wii golf, something I have never quite got the hang of. While I go round in 15 shots over par, Jamie somehow jams his way to six under.
Ewan's got his bowling, in which I believe he still holds the record in the 100 pin game, slightly ahead of Callum, who's a bit of an all-rounder. As well as the bowling, Callum often pits his wits against the insane Wii table tennis girl. Sadly for Callum, he just doesn't quite have the skills. But it's ok, as he's got other games, which we'll come back to in a minute.
Sean is similar to Callum, and I believe he has beaten the all-powerful Wii-girl at table tennis. This, as well as being nearly as good as me at the basketball means Sean has a few talents in the gaming world. At the forefront of those talents has to be his Fifa work on the Xbox. Winner of the inhouse tournament, he loves a bit of Fifa. Which brings me back to Callum, who, alongside Jamie, spends an awful lot of his time playing season after season with average sides, turning them into good teams.
And so, we come to the first source of banter in the house. It goes by the name of Katherine Lewis. Or Katie, as she is now known. A girl who revels in being an annoying little toerag who must have a deeplying love of pain, seeing as she knows she'll be punished for her actions.
The case in point in this instance happened when Callum had just won a game of Fifa 7-1. Truly happy he was with himself, too. Not wanting to let his happiness last, Katie decided it would be a laugh to turn the console off before the game was saved. But the devious slag was thwarted by the alert Callum, who instantly shoved her over and began pounding her just as she deserved. The attack went on for a good few minutes, and I even got involved myself, such were the nature of her actions. She begged for mercy, but, rightfully, we made sure she regretted what she'd done, until, eventually, we relented.
Error. Once Callum and I had moved away, Katie sat on the sofa and appeared to be recovering from the onslaught which had ensued, but then she pounced like a cat. With us two thinking the job had been done, the nuisance spun round and turned the Xbox off at the wall, sparking carnage in the lounge. Again she was pummelled by Callum and myself. Silly girl.
Another form of banter is the practical joke. Started by the deadly duo of Callum and Jamie, with Sean also keen to ruin people's day. The first instance of this came when I was driving back to Eastbourne on a Sunday night, having been at home for the weekend. Before I left, I had spoken to Jamie on the phone, and he said he wasn't sure if he'd be up when I got back.
As I approached the house, I looked up to the lounge window to see if the light was on, meaning Jamie was awake. It was. I parked my car, got my things together and got ready to go into the house, but before I did so, I had another look up to the window. Seeing them with a BB gun wouldn't have been out of the question. There was no gun, but there was no light either. They'd heard my car and turned it off. I knew something was up.
They couldn't have come outside that quickly, so I was safe walking to the door, but I opened it with caution. I carefully walked over the threshold expected to be jumped out on from any angle. But having shut the door behind me and looked around, all appeared normal. Until something glistened and caught my eye. "What the fuck is that?" I thought. A spider's web? No, I didn't think so. Once I'd banished that thought from my mind, I was literally lost for words at what this proposition was. But whatever it was, it was due to Jamie and Callum, so I had no doubt they were somewhere near, waiting for my mistake. So I decided to have a conversation with the darkness, if only to calm my own nerves. "Where's the light in this joint?" I remember saying. I couldn't find it, but not to worry, I was ready to face the barrier attempting to harm my progress into the house.
Having got up very close, I determined that it was in fact cling film, spread tightly across the doorway, with the hopeful aim of being invisible to the unsuspecting mug like me. Fairly harmless you might think. Well, yes, but it was drenched in honey. Not something I particularly fancied all over my face, hair and clothes. There was one sheet at face level, and another sheet at thigh level, so if I hadn't have suspected something was up, I'd have got a right good going over.
As is my style, I decided I would try and silently negotiate the obstacles, then make my way up to the lounge as if nothing had happened. But not long into my task, the silence was broken.
"He's crawling under it, what a bastard!" whispered Callum. Indeed I was. And so that was it. Game over.
"God I'm so disappointed," said an exasperated Jamie. "Waited up bloody hours for you to turn up and it didn't even work."
Not to be outdone, the next night I planted some traps of my own. As the rest of the house went out to get drunk, it was my time to pounce. I set up a cling film barrier half way up the stairs to the living room, hoping it'd catch them out and they'd think that was my attempt. However, in reality, that was only the decoy, and the real prank was a trip wire at the top of the stairs.
Sadly I was so tired I had to go to bed before they got back, but it wasn't long before I'd been woken up by their return. I couldn't quite work out who found it and how, but it became apparent my pranks had both failed.
"Little shit!" said a highly intoxicated Jamie. And so, in their drunken states, they set about setting up a honey-doused cling film sheet to go outside my bedroom door, hoping that I'd be so tired the next morning that I wouldn't realise it was there. Little did they know that I could hear their every move, and, when the time was right, I pounced. I crept up to the door, and when it all went quiet for a brief moment, I screamed through the door, prompting a sharp intake of breath on the other side, before they realised they'd been caught. Another game over.
The games have continued since, with Sean and Ewan getting in on the act when the rest of us were at pool league. The unfortunate party was Danny, a member of the pool team who doesn't live in the house, and therefore unwary of any possible threats.
The most recent attempt at sabotage was last night in fact, when again it was my time to return from a weekend at home. The door was on the latch, so I knew Callum was still upstairs, which instantly put me on my guard. I progressed to the top of the first flight of stairs, which is where I stopped. Having been the site of the successful attack on Danny, the unimaginative duo decided to put their trip wire in exactly the same place. But, having expected it, I simply stepped over it.
Thinking that my arrival may have gone unnoticed, I unlocked my door as silently as I could, but then when I went to push the handle down, I was caught out by what appeared to be hair gel all over it. No worries though, I got some toilet roll and wiped everything clean, before dumping my laptop and clothes in my room and progressing up the stairs. There sat the two pricks, once again annoyed that I hadn't fallen at one of their traps.
So what else happens in this house? Not a lot really, just a lot of relaxing and messing about. Oh and Fabio. We can't forget the Fabio, our resident German. He's a nice enough guy, but I don't think he really understands how when we ask him questions, they're only meant as showing an interest, rather than an interrogation.
He gets on with everyone in the house, with the exception of Jamie sometimes. Being German, a sense of humour isn't really his strong point. Jamie lives for banter, and loves getting nibbles. Fabio is easy pickings. Explosions at the most innocent of questions, prompting us to burst out laughing. I don't think he's a fan of people punching road signs directly above his bedroom at 3.30am either. Dear me that was funny.
So yeah that's our house. A banter-filled, comedy-filled, relaxation-filled, shit-all-over-the-kitchen-filled place where I love spending my time.
Couldn't have a post on Carew Road without including this video or the guy it features. Adam Toulson, a legend of Carew Road, getting completely merked up by Jamie and Sean, with me doing the filming. Incredible banter. Toulson come backkkkkkkk.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Contrasting fortunes...

Of a footballing nature. My weekends consist of three kinds of football. I don't mean soccer, American and Aussie either, I'm talking about the title race, fantasy football, and my own five-a-side team.
We'll get to five-a-side later, but the weekend begins, as most days would if I had the choice, in the early afternoon. I had a late one on Friday night watching my beloved Celtics, so I'll let myself off waking up past midday. Lying in bed with my TV and laptop at the ready, and a drink, crisps and chocolate also on hand, I was set up for the day.
First port of call was Bolton v Tottenham. 5live were covering it, but with Gareth Bale freshly restored to my fantasy team in place of Rafael van der Vaart, I decided to find a live stream on the internet. It was a good decision. What a game. Bolton played really well, far better than their stereotypical hoof it style of play that most followers of the game give them credit for. Spurs didn't play badly, but off the back of a stunning display against the European champions, they were out-hustled by a fired up Wanderers side. Sadly, the aforementioned Bale didn't have anything to do with either of Tottenham's goals, and so registered a measly two points on the old fantasy.
A combination of certain sides playing on Sunday, and Dimitar Berbatov not playing for United meant that the three o'clock kick offs only involved three of my fantasy players. A massive thanks for coming it was from them as well, as Javier Hernandez got himself booked, Stephen Carr conceded two goals, and although he saved a few, Paul Robinson let in one. So they contrived to total five points, which, when added to Bale's earlier contribution, left me with a spectacularly average seven points. Cheers for that.
Despite this, my team has had a pretty decent start to the season, so one bad weekend isn't the end of the world. On the contrary, United's start to the season has left a lot to be desired, sacrificing leads at Everton and Fulham, amongst other places. So when Park Ji-Sung made it 2-1 against Wolves with a minute left, I was so happy i somehow managed to jump up and down on my bed, whilst in a cross-legged sitting position. Fantastic stuff.
On to Sunday. Once again I woke up after midday, I like to think of it as saving my energy for later in the day. Arsenal Newcastle rolled around fairly quickly, and it was a case of title race v fantasy team. My team contains Marouane Chamakh, Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, who, for the second week in a row, was my captain. I like to make a few hero plays with my team, in the hope that if it pays off, no one else gets those points. However, the last two weeks it hasn't gone well at all. In both games Walcott hit either post or bar. Oh the pain. 20 points minimum missed out on by the width of a stick.
Anyway, much to my surprise, Newcastle didn't get carved apart, stuck to their gameplan and got a result, which killed my fantasy team, but helped United. So not all bad. As for Man City, well sadly they won, but thankfully Tevez didn't score. Probably quite a good reason for that as well.
And so the time had come. Five-a-side time. One of the highest lights of my week, as I used to play a lot of football but then took a few years out. Camberley Cricket Club Football Club entered the facililty with a respectable record of one win, one draw and one loss from three games, and were definitely looking to win against a team on the same amount of points. Forget Liverpool Chelsea, 14 minutes each way, this was quite clearly the biggest game of the day, anywhere in the country.
Having looked at the table before leaving home, it was clear where both teams' strengths lay. From three games, CCCFC had scored 13 and conceded 13, whereas the Red Devils had scored five and conceded five. The early exchanges were fairly even, with not a lot of talent on show. True to form, the Red Devils created chances then missed them, while CCCFC took a little more time getting into their stride. After about five minutes though, captain Sam Holmes played a ball up to me, and, with a defender at my back, I laid it back to Charlie Hipkin, the lanky Aussie, who was marauding through the middle. Without any hesitation, Hippers swung his right peg, and, via a slight deflection and a certain lack of effort by the keeper, in it went.
Not long after, I was sent through on goal, but the keeper came out, I panicked and tried to take it round him, but nudged it just too far and it went out for a goal kick. Well, it was a goal kick until the referee gave a corner, anyway. I got the ball, put it down, found Sammo lurking 15 yards out, he took a touch and banged it in. 2-0.
A few more chances were created and wasted by both sides, before I got the ball just inside the Red Devils' half. There was only one man between me and the goal, and I knew I was quicker than him, so I got up to speed, took it round him keeping it on my right foot, and when the keeper thought i may have dribbled it further up to him, I hit it early. 3-0. And that was half time. Very satisfactory.
Pretty much as soon as the second half started it was 3-1, but it wasn't long before Sam knocked a long ball over the top, and as the keeper refused to move, I knocked it past him and into the corner for 4-1.
Soon after, I was put clean through, and decided I'd go for my favourite trick of shaping to bend it to the keeper's left, then dragging it across him into his bottom right corner. Sadly i dragged it too much and it shaved the outside of the post. We were made to pay for my miss, as it went 4-2.
It was all-action, end-to-end stuff, and when i got my next chance, I decided finesse wasn't an option, so I thumped it hard and low into the corner, via the keeper's leg. Another poor attempt at a save from him, and a hattrick for me. Almost straight away I made it 6-2, Sammo's throw-in put on a plate for me to tap in from close range.
Game over you might think. Well, not quite. With eight minutes left, Hippers shouted out: 'Come on boys, let's make it double figures.' Oh dear. It went 6-3, then 6-4, then 6-5 with about two minutes left. Surely we couldn't draw from being 6-2 up. Well, actually we could, some gay boy shooting through Dom Peter's legs to tie it up with about a minute to go. There was still time for a chance for each side, but it finished 6-6 and to say I was pissed off was an understatement.
Ah well, my spirits were raised when I sat back in my car and turned the radio on. There was Mike Ingham on 5live announcing Liverpool 2, Chelsea 0. Rarely do I want Liverpool to win, but when they're up against the scummy, success-out-of-nowhere, money-filled, zero-history, fan base-increased-tenfold-in-the-last-five-years, shit from south-west London, I don't mind the council-house scouse getting a result.
As for the fantasy team, well, Ashley cole did nothing, Florent Malouda did nothing, so it wasn't going well. Paul Konchesky did manage a clean sheet, but all-in-all, it was a poor week on that front. Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs all losing made it a good week for the title race, but sacrificing a 6-2 lead made five-a-side pretty bitter.
It all rolls around again this weekend, so let's see how it all goes. Cya.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Recurring themes.

On Friday night, Boston entertained the Chicago Bulls at the TD Garden, in a game which pitted players of a very similar style against each other. Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose are two of the most exciting young point guards in the league, both with experience and composure beyond their years. Both love a steal, a fast break, an assist and a lay up after fooling the defender. Both made their debut appearances at the All Star game this year, and will go on to be the leading point guards of the next decade.
Small forwards Paul Pierce and Luol Deng take the onus upon themselves to get the job done, firing up shot after shot, even if the previous few didn't fall. If the game goes to the last shot, invariably it'll be these two who bear the responsibility for their respective teams.
Then come the men for which the word 'maximum' could easily be their given names. Kevin Garnett and Joakim Noah may go about their business in slightly different ways, but neither has ever given less than 100 per cent. Noah keeps himself to himself, but when it comes to passion, fire, commitment and hard work, very few give more to the cause. One of those few is KG. The Big Ticket has the same values as Noah, but goes about them in a very different way. If a fellow Celtic is brought into the line-up to do a specific job, then falters, Garnett will be in their face, giving them a private yet open dressing down of epic proportions. On court, everything is business, and business must be taken care of.
So to the game. Off the back of a Thursday night home loss to the New York Knicks, the Bulls made an impressive start, ending the first quarter 23-19 up. Then came what the Celtics are known for. Resolute, aggressive, stifling defence. For the first five minutes 56 seconds of the second quarter, the Bulls went scoreless. A combination of forced turnovers, forced tough shots, steals and blocks turned a four-point deficit into a ten-point lead. A 22-3 run had Boston up 41-26, which turned into 49-38 at the break.
A fast start to the third quarter saw the Celtics up by 16 points, and apparently cruising. But, as happened on countless occasions last season, the lead slipped. For one reason or another, maintaining the level of consistency just doesn't carry over from first half to second, and by the end of the third, Boston found themselves up just eight points, at 72-64.
Still in control, you might think. Well, yes, to an extent. But last season's frailties weren't exclusive to the third quarter. And as Chicago found baskets with increasing regularity, the home crowd feared yet another crumble from a rock solid position. That tension spread to the players. Shots were rushed, plays weren't properly executed, and that famous Celtic defence resembled that of Golden State or Phoenix, teams who don't believe defence matters, as long as their own shots drop.
With five minutes and 44 seconds left in the fourth, Bulls impact player CJ Watson connected with a three to put them up 82-81. This was swiftly followed by jump shot from Joakim Noah. He may possess the worst-looking and technically most dreadful jump shot in the league, but it invariably finds only net.
So, down by three, and with everyone in the building wearing green getting more and more frustrated, it was as though the Celtics had finally been given the jolt they needed. The instigator? Who else but the six-foot one-inch, 24-year-old number nine. In accordance with the standard commentators curse ruling, following my rave about him prior to the game, Rajon Rondo had had, up to that point, a relatively quiet game.
Then, in one minute's worth of game play, Rondo bagged his ninth assist, as well as recording two lay ups, which wrestled the lead back Boston's way. High screens were set, opening up the path to the basket for the lightning point guard to run into. "Just too easy for the great Rondo," eulogised ESPN analyser Jeff van Gundy.
A three-point play by Ray Allen preceded another break to the basket by Rondo. His lay up missed, but Paul Pierce was on hand to tip Boston back into a 92-86 lead with three minutes left on the clock. But if the Celtics thought they had broken the back of the Chicago comeback, Luol Deng gave them something else to think about. His three halved the lead, before a quick flurry of exchanged baskets made the score 96-93 Boston.
As often is the case, Paul Pierce controlled the ball as the game entered its final stretch. But, uncharacteristically, the Boston captain was stripped of the ball, and Rose fed Deng for another three, tying up the game as it entered the last minute.
As the clock wound down, both sides missed jump shots, before Rondo turned the ball over with 23 seconds left, handing the ball to Chicago for potentially the final play of the game. But Rondo redeemed himself, proving why he's already been named to two NBA all-defence teams by hassling Rose into losing the ball as attempted to put up his shot. "That was great defence by Rondo," ESPN microphones caught coach Doc Rivers shouting.
For the second game in a row, a highly dramatic Celtics game entered overtime.
The first three shots all found net, Chicago's basket sandwiched between two of Boston's. Kyle Korver then stepped up to connect with a three for the Bulls, handing them the lead. A change in momentum? No. Ray Allen answered straight back. The man who currently sits second on the all-time list of three-point shots made, and who will retire as the greatest pure shooter of all time, immediately fired from down town, putting the Celtics back up two.
A couple of Rose free throws tied it up again, before Rondo found Pierce unguarded at the hoop for a lay up. "How about the vision of Rondo, what a big time pass," came Van Gundy again. Rondo then again hustled Rose with his fourth steal of the game, turning defence into attack. He found Glen Davis, who was fouled, sending him to the line. He made one of the two free throws, before the TD Garden erupted.
While known for his three-pointers, Allen is rather less known for his thundrous dunks. Pierce found him cutting to the hoop, and he finished with authority, putting the Cs up by five with a minute left.
But the Bulls still weren't done, Deng tipping in to cut it to three. Then when Pierce missed a jumper with 20 seconds left on the clock, the chance was there for Chicago to again tie it up.
Noah, effort personified, took it upon himself to try and force a play, desperate to give his team a chance. But while the Bulls most passionate player raced towards the Boston basket, he hadn't counted on his Celtic equal following his every move. Garnett sprinted after Noah, and at the crucial moment, knocked the ball away from him, into the arms of Davis, who again was fouled. Big Baby this time made both free throws, and when Deng missed a three-pointer wth six seconds on the clock, the game was up. The ever-pumped up Garnett pulled his jersey to the side to expose his left pectoral, and walked around the court punching his heart. As if anyone questioned his desire.
For the second game in a row, Boston had squandered a winning position and gone to overtime. But in contrast to last season, found the character to stand up and win the game again, instead of being over taken.
The Celtics extend their impressive start to the season, moving to 5-1, while the Bulls drop to 2-3. The Cs are next out on Sunday night at Oklahoma City Thunder, the youngest, and most rapidly improving, team in the league. The Bulls face a strong test at home to the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.
Come on Boston.

Friday, 5 November 2010

It's only fitting...

To start with Rajon Rondo. The 24-year-old glue sticking together the 30-something-year-old future hall-of-famers. The reason they'll get there sooner. The only possible way they can add the final ring before they retire. The on-court manager. The instigator. Doc Rivers' second pair of eyes. One of the best passers the NBA has ever seen. The best stealer the league has today. The future of the Boston Celtics.
Improving year-on-year, Rondo has exploded out of the blocks in the early season, recording an astounding 82 assists in the first five games, including a career-high 24 against the New York Knicks. He's set the league record for the highest amount of assists after three, four and five games into the season, something which will surely lead to an incredible total after 82 regular season games. Combined with a lightning-fast break to the basket, and an increasingly effective jump shot, the new favourite of the TD Garden is virtually impossible to guard.
Rondo has often been criticised, both within the Boston camp, and by pundits looking in, for his unwavering self-confidence, which some people view to be arrogance. It's true, he does have a very strong character, but to survive in a side with Kevin Garnett staring right through you and lambasting you for even the most academic of mistakes, you need to have thick skin. Rondo is a natural-born leader, often taking over from the coach in designing plays during time-outs in clutch time.
Rondo's rise to prominence has led to him being one of the most sought-after poster boys in world basketball. As a result of fronting Red Bull, Rondo was the ambassador and main attraction at the King of the Rock tournament on Alcatraz over the summer. The tournament, which pits wannabe basketball players from across the streets of the USA against each other in a one-on-one situation, reflects Rondo's style of play - isolating the opponent, selling him with a trick, bursting past him with devastating pace before finishing at the hoop.
On top of this, Rondo also starred in various adverts for NBA 2K11, the USA's answer to FIFA 10. Seen laughing and joking with other stars such as Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, in one advert Rondo took great satisfaction in that he was the only member of the crew with a championship ring.
Rondo currently shares the court with new member of the 20,000-point club Paul Pierce, dominant big man and massively imposing figure Kevin Garnett, and the best three-point shooter the league has ever seen in Ray Allen. Add one of the most famous names basketball has ever known in Shaquille O'Neal; the most no-nonsense centre currently playing the game in Kendrick Perkins, as well as rapidly-improving Glen Davis and triple Slam Dunk Contest winner Nate Robinson.
Having taken the Lakers to game seven last season, who's to say the Rondo-driven Celtics won't go one better this year.
Rondo has already been named to two NBA All-Defence teams, as well as making his first appearance at the All Star game in Dallas in February. His resume is increasing all the time; he holds franchise records for Boston in both steals and assists, both set in the 2009-10 season. What price he won't smash them both this season.
It's fair to say I love Rajon Rondo. I love his story of coming into a side full of stars and moulding them into his team. I love the way he conducts himself on court, his never-say-die attitude, epitomised by one play against Orlando's Jason Williams in last season's play-offs.
The Magic had the ball, but it was knocked away into their back court. Williams went back to get it, seemingly in plenty of time. But while others stood and watched, Rondo gave chase, and before Williams could pick it up, Rondo dived headfirst along the floor, grabbed the ball, got up, rounded Williams and laid it in. The Boston crowd went crazy. The Boston bench went crazy. I, sitting on my sofa watching the game live on an illegal internet stream, went crazy. The heart, commitment, appreciation of the game, and sense of theatre Rondo showed in that five-second play was jaw-dropping and impressive to even the most anti-Celtic man.
Rondo has the ability, not only to single-handedly win basketball games, but to do so in a manner which leaves the viewer with a smile on their face and a 'wow, that guy plays exciting basketball' feeling.
Tomorrow sees Rondo and the Celtics pit their 4-1 record against the Chicago Bulls, who tonight got heavily beaten at home to the Knicks. The second night of a back-to-back is never easy, so hopefully the C's can extend to 5-1. I'll let you know how everyone, especially my man, gets on. Cya.