1000 Shades of Grey
Friday, July 30, 2004
Liquid lunch
It's Friday and the sun is shining.  So for lunch, I went to the pub together with the Mrs and some of her colleagues.

A rather pathetic 1 pint of Stella later and I feel sleepy.

I really shouldn't drink at lunchtime, it doesn't exactly raise my level of productivity.

Now I'm sat at my desk, having had a cup of coffee, trying to at least look like I'm working, when blatantly I'm not.

I love Fridays.

Thursday, July 29, 2004
Butt, still no right back
I see that we've finalised the deal for Nicky Butt today, and for a bargain £2 million too.  Given the fact that we've already sold Gary Speed, and let Viana go off to Portugal on loan, the midfield was looking a bit sparsely populated and lightweight, so at least this signing should go some way to addressing that issue.

The problem seems to be that with each passing day the club's search for a new rightback becomes even more desperate.  Today we've been reported to have made an offer for Miguel, which is likely to be turned down.  Assuming that's the most we're willing to pay, that only leaves Trabelsi (who still hasn't signed for Arsenal) or Stephen Carr.

The problem is that even if we do eventually sign one of these three candidates it will take them time to bed in to the defence, and in the mean time we're undermining Aaron Hughes.  By doing this we must surely be damaging his confidence, and thus making him a worse player.  Essentially, we're buggering up our team the longer and more desperate our search becomes.

For my part, I accept that perhaps we need a more attacking full back who could give us more options from full back, but who is also capable of fulfilling their defensive duties.  Hughes is solid, but he isn't spectacular, and I doubt he ever will be.  However, the desperate nature of the search can hardly have done anything to boost his confidence and as such is hardly going to improve him as a player, something which we must do if we fail to find a suitable alternative.

Whilst I'm on the subject of full-backs, I wish we'd give Bernard a new contract, the thought of having to find a new left back next summer is too horrific to even contemplate.  As he's one of the few players who actually improved last season it seems ludicrous to even contemplate allowing him to leave.

Therefore, whilst we continually search for a new full back we're in danger of buggering up the two we already have - typical Newcastle.

Cunning Follow Up
Following on from last week's attempt to boost traffic to my blog by typing about naked newsreaders I can reveal that over the last seven days at least 5 people have visited me in their (presumably) fruitless hunt for nude pictures of Natasha Kaplinsky.

If anything I thought this number might actually be higher, but it goes to show that you can't cheat the system and the only real way to generate more traffic is to produce interesting posts so that people actually make it a part of their day to visit your site.

So from now on I'll try not to look for the quick fix, but instead try and cultivate a readership by attempting to improve the quality of my output.

I did consider typing "a newsreader's name nude" each week, to see who attracted the most hits, but I'm not sure I'm ready for the kind of power that such knowledge would obviously bring.  Besides, I'm not sure I want to meet people who trawl the web looking for Sir Trevor MacDonald naked...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004
We're all going to die
Just in case any of you were worried about what to do in a crisis this website gives you some handy hints.  Just don't blame me if you die as a result.

Pass me a hammer
After what seems like forever (well it's been at least three months) the Mrs and I have finally exchanged contracts on the purchase of our first house.  We don't get the keys for another month, but we're committed to move now, and I can't wait.

The thing is, whilst I'm excited about the move, and the chance to paint walls a colour other than cream before knocking nails into them, I'm slightly scared.

Being a homeowner is such a terribly grown-up thing to do.  All I need now is a pension and some rug rats and I'll officially have waved goodbye to my youth.  I appreciate that as someone in their mid-twenties, my griping about the ageing process might come across as galling to those of you who are older than me, but it's still a slight cause for concern.

I suppose that ageing is one of those things that we can't escape, and buying a house is just the last nail in the lid of the coffin that contains the body of my student life. 

Perhaps rather than mourn the passing of my "youth" I should embrace the fact that I'm now entering a period in my life which should be characterised by increased stability and financial prosperity.  After all, together with the new house, the new career starts at the end of this month (exam results permitting).    This is an exciting period in my life, and one that I feel ready to embrace - in much the same way as I did when I left home and moved to University seven years ago.

The future's bright...  



                       ...and the walls soon will be!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Are you sitting comfortably?
Why do office chairs have a thousand levers, yet only adjust to a position approaching comfortable when threatened with brute force? 

Contorted into a position that Houdini would have struggled to escape from I am puzzled as to how someone actually chose to set there chair up in this way.  Can it really help someone to sit at the desk when they are two feet off the ground, with the base of the seat tilted thirty degrees towards the desk and yet the back set to recline as far as possible.

Finally after two hours of pushing levers that cause me to jolt from one position of extreme discomfort to another equally stressful position I succeed in achieving something which might possibly be considered acceptable.  Unfortunately, I then got cocky, and thinking I'd cracked it, decided to alter the height of the back rest.

Big mistake.

It went up, but then wouldn't go down.  I'm a tall man, but this chair must have been designed with some kind of genealogical freak in mind.  The base of the back rest went so high it was pressing into my shoulder blades and refused to budge.  After much discomfort and frustration (prompted by the fact that whilst it was very easy to get into this position it took me over half an hour to get the bloody thing back down again) I was able to get it back to the original position - just so I could start the whole rigmarole again.

I hate sitting at a strangers desk.

I also want to destroy the small cuddly toy sat proudly atop their monitor.  But that is a source of stress relief I am saving for another day...

Monday, July 26, 2004
Other people's children
Sat at a strange desk, in a strange office, I'm struck by the ugliness of other people's kids.  Confronted by pictures of co-workers loved ones I can't help but see them as mingers, blighting the already scarred battlefield of the office, and making an unappealing job (more sodding data entry) seem even worse.

Presumably in the future, I'll start to populate any desk I come to call my own with pictures of my own family, pictures which other people will find equally unappealing to look at, and will consider to be blots on the office landscape.

But until that day comes I'm left to ponder the unattractiveness of someone else's family.

Oh well, at least I can still blog!

Friday, July 23, 2004
Uncertain Future
I've been blogging in work lately, which is handy as I don't have a computer connected to the internet at home.  However, from Monday I'm moving offices and I don't know whether I'll have quite the same freedom to blog as I currently enjoy.  I'll post as and when I can, but just so that you don't fear for my health if I disappear for a while, I thought I'd better let you know.

While I'm away, read the stuff in my blogroll, including it's newest members Our Man in Hanoi and Crinklybee.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
At least I didn't hit 3...
For the last few days, I've been updating a database in work.  It's not the most interesting job, but it needed doing.  Three and a half days later, I've done over 16, 000 files.

Unfortunately, this morning I decided I'd overwrite 10,000 of them by typing the wrong number in to a box on the screen in front of me.  Instead of typing number 60284, I typed 50284, thus setting myself back two days.

I'm struggling to find a swear word that truly conveys my frustration at this error on my part, but for the time being this will have to do:


Wednesday, July 21, 2004
I have a cunning plan...
I've been wondering about how I can get more visitors to my blog and come up with 3 possible ideas:  

1. I could follow the example of DiamondGeezer and visit lots of blogs, and leave comments on all of them in the hope that the owners then come and visit me.

2. I could beg everyone I know to link to me, particularly Ben who is currently guesting on Troubled-Diva.

3. I could type the words Natasha Kaplinsky naked next to each other.

Now to see if plan 3 works, before I  resort to plans 1 and 2. 

If you are reading this as a result of searching the web for nude newsreaders, please leave a comment before continuing what I predict will be a fruitless search. Thank you.

New blogs
Just found some more blogs that I like, so thought I'd draw them to your attention. They are: Bacon, Cheese and Oatcakes, the wonderfully named Tittybiscuit, whose most recent post made me laugh out loud, and Wan who has been to see some Sumo wrestling.  Enjoy.

St Patrick's Day
I know I may have raised some doubts in the past, but following today's announcement that Patrick Kluivert has signed a three year contract with Newcastle United I am genuinely excited.  In much the same way as the signing of Alan Shearer in 1996 caused me to trawl the papers for as much information as I could, I'm now content to scour the web for stuff about our Paddy.  My favourite read so far has to be his quotes form the press conference and the response of Niall and Biffa

I couldn't agree more lads.

Otherwise it's been an eventful couple of days at the club, what with Gary Speed heading off to Bolton and Hugo Viana to Portugal (oddly after extending his contract with us).  Looks like we are going to be a bit short of midfield cover for next season unless we dip into the transfer market again.

Oh, and we still haven't signed a right back...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Right to reply
Thanks to Haloscan, I've hopefully been able to improve the comment facilities on the blog.  However, in doing so I inadvertently deleted all my old comments, which I've been able to repost.  Apologies to anyone whose post I was not able to put up, or who is annoyed that they've lost control of their post.

Liberal Curse
Further to my post last week I've been thinking about the problem of living in a society that values free speech.  The difficulty that I have is that there are so many people whose views I disagree with. 
Obviously it's healthy to be able to disagree on such things, and in all honesty how many of us can hold our hands up and say that we fully agree with every policy of any of the political parties currently representing us?
Similarly, it would be wrong for us to have a government whose actions go unquestioned and unchallenged, then where would we be?  This, if anything, is the biggest problem with the present government.  Blair has too many allies in his party, and in particular on the benches behind him, that he can more-or-less act without fear of recrimination.  Compare this with John Major's last Tory government, whose every Bill was carefully measured as the support of his own party was weighed up, and you can see that Tony really does have carte blanche in what he does.
Therefore, it would be better for us all to have a government under pressure, struggling for a majority who might therefore have to listen to its electorate to govern us, and not one with such an overwhelming majority that it can ignore what we say.
However, the biggest problem that I have with democracy is that we allow everyone to air their views.  This isn't a problem if those views are moderate, but when it comes to people like the BNP then it becomes a whole different story.  I'm pleased to see that the police are taking action following last week's documentary and am also pleased that BNP supporters remain very much in the minority and reviled by the masses, but I'm still worried about the apparent growth on their support.
However, the most upsetting thing is that I'm adopting a stance which is diametrically opposed to my belief in democracy, by seeking to punish and outlaw people whose views I strongly disagree with. 
The question is, would it be better to allow everyone to speak, or are we better compromising the right to free speech because we disagree with the opinions being spoken?

Friday, July 16, 2004
Recognition at last...
For the last two weeks I've been frittering away a small part of my day in the Magazine on the BBC news website.  Imagine my delight today when I finally received recognition for my entry in their Lunchtime Bonus Question today.  If you scroll down the page, I'm Paul from Nottingham!
Yes, my life really is that dull.

Thursday, July 15, 2004
What the Butler saw...
There were four people named Somebody, Anybody, Everybody and Nobody and one of them had to take the blame for going to war in Iraq based on some shoddy "intelligence". Everybody was asked to do it and Anybody could have done it. Somebody thought about doing it, but ultimately Nobody did it.

For those pedants among you, I accept that a number of BBC employees did actually take some of the blame for this, and lost their jobs as a result - which seems odd given that they aren't our elected government representatives who actually made the decision, doesn't it?

But what do I know? I'm only a voter.

Is it wrong?
Is it wrong of me to be reviled by the political views of a co-worker? After all, we live in a society which encourages freedom of speech and to deny someone that would be to infringe their human rights.

However, after the guy next to me told me he voted for the BNP I felt sick with disgust.

Monday, July 12, 2004
The plot thickens
With Craig's injury worries now firmly back in the minds of the management, what impact will this have on our remaining transfer plans for the summer?

Clearly, we need a new striker now that LuaLua has finally taken his bag of tricks to the south coast. Of those available, we are seemingly being linked to Beattie, Kluivert, and Mido.

Beattie would be my choice of the three, he's strong, quick and powerful, young enough to develop and still has a point to prove. He's also the most likely to play his heart out in the proverbial wet Wednesday cup replay away to Darlington.

Kluivert is a wonderfully talented player, who I have admired for years. However, his current desire for a club, any club, reeks of the actions of a mercenary. Quite frankly, the last thing we need.

Mido is a player I honestly don't know enough about, but surely anyone who can't get into the Marseille team isn't going to add a great deal to our team in terms of quality or goals.

Elsewhere in the team we appear to have cooled our interest in Nicky Butt, so much so that the seemingly departing Gary Speed has flown out on our tour of the far east. Perhaps the injury to Bellamy has forced the money men to re-prioritise their spending plans.

On the right-back front it now looks like a straight choice between Trabelsi or Carr. Spurs fans I know have always raved about Carr, but I have to admit that he's never looked outstanding when I've seen him play. Trabelsi on the other hand is also linked with Arsenal. Given the choice, I doubt he'll choose the upper end of the A1 - and to be honest, you wouldn't blame him.

We've also been linked to Rooney, but as we don't have the 30 million Everton would want (or even half of that) I'll presume that's just the wanderings of some journalist's addled mind. It'd be nice, but it isn't going to happen.

Of course, if the club would like to prove me wrong...

Not again
Apparently Craig Bellamy has again injured his knee again. This is awful news.

It's dreadful for the player, who surely can't endure many more operations on his knee if he's ever to walk again, let alone run or kick a football.

It's dreadful for Newcastle who, despite Shola Ameobi's belief that his partnership with Shearer produces more goals, look half the threat without Craig's pace.

It's dreadful for Wales, who only have a handful of decent players.

Hopefully Bellamy will recover and actually be able to enjoy an injury free season. Please.

But somehow I doubt it.

That was the weekend that was
Well, a hearty congratulations to Ben and Jo, who duly tied the knot on Saturday in a small church in Hampshire. Congratulations too to Del, who succeeded in getting Ben to the church on time, providing the rings at the right moment, and managing to remain sufficiently sober so as to embarrass the groom without offending his new mother-in-law.

My hangover lasted until well in to Sunday afternoon following my cunning decision to drink the red. It was very nice, and with practically everyone else on the white, it left a lot of wine available for yours truly to drink in order to stop it being wasted - and I can't stand waste...

Thursday, July 08, 2004
Plinking in Heaven
Sad news has just reached me courtesy of Troubled-Diva. Xylophone man is dead.

For those of you who have ever been to Nottingham, you will doubtless have seen him busking away with his xylophone plinking along to whatever ditty took his fancy. His death leaves a gaping whole in the global busking community.

I saw him on Sunday, can't have been long before he passed away.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004
For your perusal
Having spent a listless few hours in work, it's only fair that I recommend the following blogs as ways to alleviate some boredom - all are excellent. Parallax View , All things footie and the wonderfully named My boyfriend is a twat, should keep you all entertained for a while.

You may also wish to read Del's thoughts on the pursuit of happiness.

Northern Lights
Watching the new BBC drama series 55 Degrees North last night, I was once again entranced by the beauty of my homeland. I love the view of the bridges over the Tyne, it's a sight I never tire of and one that always leaves me feeling comforted - safe in the knowledge that I'm home.

Happily, DS Nicky Cole appears to be living in Tynemouth (the place I spent the first 18 years of my life, and location of the best takeaway pizza shop I've found in the country). I look forward to more views of the north east as the series develops.

Troubled by wind
The wind is whistling past the windows of the office I'm sat in today. I don't know what it is about the gusting of the wind, but I hate it. I find it plays with my mind, and leaves me restless and discontented.

As far as I can remember I've always been affected by the weather. I'm sure most people are happiest when the sun is shining and the skies are blue and cloudless - I know I am.

But wind makes me feel uneasy, and consequently I'm left frustrated and riddled by feelings of angst.

Unsurprisingly, today has not been constructive.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Paddy Power?
Rumour suggests that Newcastle are in talks with Patrick Kluivert about him joining us, now that he's left Barcelona/ the Dutch bench.

Whilst I would generally welcome the signing of a striker I believe to be one of the finest in the world, I have some slight doubts about the transfer.

Firstly, can we afford to pay him without bankrupting the club/ shattering the wage structure?

Secondly, will we be able to accommodate him, Shearer, Bellamy and Ameobi?

Thirdly, do we want a player whose every transfer utterance has reeked of that of a mercenary?

Fourthly, he isn't the right-back we desperately need.

As with all things, time will tell...

Monday, July 05, 2004
Everyone's a winner
Just reading the usually excellent BBC Sport site, and noticed this page, if you scroll down to the bottom of it, you'll see that the final was the game with the highest attendance, and that despite Greece appearing to finish champions 1-0, Portugal were eventually winners 6-5 on penalties After Extra Time.

Dancing Queen
Well done too, to Natasha Kaplinsky, for beating the bloke who plays Spencer Moon in the Strictly Come Dancing Final on Saturday night.

Given that she was much the better dancer, it was a thoroughly deserved award. Thankfully, for once the teenage girls who had been voting for him didn't prevail.

Watching BBC Breakfast news this morning, I was highly amused to see Natasha go all coy whenever Dermot mentioned it (which he did quite often). Bless.

I'd like to quickly point people in the direction of Ben, who has raised himself from a work/Glastonbury induced stupor and actually posted a fairly adult discussion (no, not about pornography) on his blog which neatly ties into the denouement of Euro 2004.

A spot of Greek
Congratulations to Greece, who've successfully proved that it is impossible to predict the outcome of any football match with certainty. Having privately tipped the Czech's to do the business, I can at least point to their silver goal defeat as some kind of face saver; after all, they almost got through to the final.

That said, I still thought Portugal would have too much for the Greeks, but thanks to some resolute defending, and a bloody minded refusal to use either of the ex-Newcastle players in their squad, they ran out deserved winners.

So well done - bet they can't wait for the Olympics to start now.

Friday, July 02, 2004
One in...
Just heard confirmation that James Milner has joined our ever growing contingent of ex-Leeds players, great news.

Maybe they should be formally recognised as a feeder club, what with Milner, Woodgate, Bowyer, Speed, Bridges (before we shipped him out) all having played in front of the Elland Road mob at one time or another before moving up the M1 in the hope of better careers.

How to make friends and influence people
Having kicked up a small shit-storm with my comments on the newsworthiness of the Tube Strike, I feel it only fair to comment on the actions of diamond geezer, who not only paid me a visit whilst working from home, but also left a comment on his mission to visit and comment on 100 blogs in a day.

Obviously the blog commenting probably impinged on his working, but I think it's a great idea to leave comments on lots of blogs, and something I really should do more often. There are so many great blogs out there to be discovered, and I'm going to try to do just that.

After I do a bit of work...

Fields that were not dry
For those of you who, like me, couldn't get to Worthy Farm this year for their annual garden party I'd like to point you in the direction of fellow Geordies Ben and Bykersink who both give an impressively in depth recap of all that we missed.

You can almost taste the mud and cider...

Beatts me
According to Radio 1 this morning (7.30) James Beattie was being lined up to be Newcastle's third new signing (together with Butt and Milner). However, by 8.00 that story had vanished from the news bulletin, and I can't find any more out about it anywhere.

This suggests that either the story is rubbish, or that someone has silenced the story in case it jeopordises the deal. Despite what I said yesterday about the risk of alienating Shearer, I'd still welcome Beattie with open arms to Newcastle, so I hope he's coming.

If not, que sera sera...

On a similar issue, I'm not entirely convinced by the current theory that we're going to play Kieron Dyer at right-back next season. I'm worried he lacks the discipline to play there, or the tackling/heading ability and concentration required of a defender.

However, as an attacking option, he'd scare the crap out of any defenders who had him overlapping Darren Ambrose, and he certainly has the energy to get up and down the pitch, so maybe it'd be worth a try.

He'd also stand a much better chance of getting in the England team as a right-back than a central midfielder, but whether that's enough of a justification for trying to teach him to tackle, head and concentrate, only time will tell.

Thursday, July 01, 2004
Two heads are better than one
According to a well informed source, Newcastle have splashed the cash and bought James Milner from Leeds and Nicky Butt from man ure. From where I'm sat, both look excellent signings.

Butt should bring us some much needed bite in midfield, and whilst his arrival would seem to signal an end to Gary Speed's time at the club, he's younger, still got masses of experience, and can hopefully pass the ball to his own team mates with more frequency.

Milner on the other hand is an incredibly promising youngster, and while we've had our hands slightly burned when we've tried to grasp the flames of youth previously (Viana, Bramble, et al seemingly not quite as good as they should have been for the money) Milner looks a sound purchase. A year of learning from Shearer can only enhance his talents and he doesn't have a big enough reputation to force Shearer out of the team, which would have alienated the big man (something which probably couldn't be said had we signed Beattie).

All in all, two excellent pieces of business, so well done to Freddie and Bobby, now all we need to do is put a stop to all this Steve Bruce rubbish, sell Lua Lua and buy a right back.

Don't stop now boys, you're on a roll.

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