Monday, February 26, 2007

26 February 2007: Wilde

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water...

A small announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange by Southampton Leisure Holdings plc, parent company of Southampton Football Club, this morning. Michael Wilde has resigned as Chairman with immediate effect. As usual, the Echo claims to have known about it first, but actually SaintLee posted it to the forum on Saturday morning after getting some inside info, presumably from someone in the board meeting on Friday where the resignation was offered.

Not totally sure why just yet - the Echo 'understands' that it's because he's failed to find the investment he promised when he took over from Rupert last summer, whereas SaintLee reported it was due to a family illness. Time will tell.

Meantime Rupert was seen at St Mary's on Saturday in his company executive box (humorously termed the 'Ex-Directory Box) fueling rumours that he's not finished with Saints yet.

The saga continues...

Monday, February 19, 2007

19 February 2007: Predictable

It's Watford at home.

Who would have thought it?

19 February 2007: Rarity

It's unusual for Plymouth Argyle to feature on 'Match of the Day'. No question about that. The BBC haven't had TV rights (highlights or otherwise) for the 'lower leagues' since 1987, and Plymouth Argyle are notorious for poor performances in the FA Cup.

Occasionally bright things will happen: a couple of years ago Argyle reached the dizzy heights of the third round (well ok, they got there by virtue of being in the Championship) and were drawn at home to Everton. The BBC decided it would be good to show the game live on TV, and so the cameras came down and Gary Lineker et al got a good chance to make fun of Trigger as very defensive-looking Argyle were beaten 3-1 in a thoroughly professional display by Everton.

This year it's different. This year Argyle won their third round tie with Peterborough after a replay, and then won away at the mighty Barnet in the fourth round. Favourites in both matches, certainly, but here's what it meant: Argyle were in the FA Cup fifth round for only the fourth time in their history (Trev's site gives over a hundred years of entries into this competition). The previous three times: once back in the days of Jack Chisholm's mighty team, and twice in the eighties, including the epic semi-final run of 83/84.

Fifth-round draw: home against Derby County. Hm, thought the fans, tough game: Derby riding high at the top of the Championship and despite Argyle winning the home game against Derby in the league this year, Derby were unbeaten in 2007 and looking pretty unstoppable. Still, there were always memories of 1984: that time, the quarter-final game was at home to Derby and Argyle so nearly won it, Gordon Staniforth having a shot that somehow hit both posts without crossing the line. 0-0. Went away to Derby and Andy Rogers scored direct from a corner for a 1-0 victory and that semi-final against Watford where Argyle lost 1-0.

This time, no such fights: Derby put up a physical fight (especially Darren Moore, who got sent off) but little footballing prowess and Argyle roundly beat them 2-0, even missing a penalty along the way. Yay, we thought: Match of the Day will give us mucho coverage, especially as it means we're in the quarter-finals for only the second time in FA Cup history, going back way over a hundred years.

8 Minutes was what we got. Less than any of the other games. And to make it worse, it was the only game that got no - I mean zero - analysis. All we got was half a sentence for Ray Stubbs (ooo, Ray Stubbs, ooo) saying "and by the way congratulations to Plymouth blah blah blah blah but now back to something more interesting blah blah".

Well, stuff them, that's what I say. We'll show them who's important when we win the FA Cup this year. We'll show them how they need to pay attention to the mighty Plymouth Argyle when we smash our way to the final and thence to the UEFA Cup, beginning a decade of European domination. We'll lay the ghost of that 1984 Watford defeat and win, win, win.

Quarter-final draw is at 1.30pm today. What's the betting we'll get Watford?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

13 February 2006: Daylight Savings

Today is a relatively unimportant day in the general scheme of things. Admittedly, it's my younger sister's birthday (she still seems a little small for her age), and this week also features Valentine's Day, Gareth's birthday and Gareth and Helen's wedding anniversary. Add to that the FA Cup fifth round this weekend, heady heights that Plymouth Argyle have this year reached for only the fourth time in their history (only success in this round coming in 1984 when they beat West Brom on their way to the semi-finals). OK, so there is a little bit going on.

But my point is this: today is the day we should be moving to British Summer Time (BST), or Daylight Savings Time to give it a more globally-valid term. Why today? Because today the amount of daylight (here in Southampton anyway) will be 9h 55m 03s (sunrise to sunset), with the sun at an angle of 25.7 degrees. Last October, when the clocks went back and we had a nice extra hour in bed, the equivalent point was reached: the Saturday saw 9h 57m 26s of daylight (sun angle 26 degrees) and the Sunday, after the clocks went back, saw us have 9h 53m 52s of sunlight (sun angle 25.6 degrees). So today, 13 February, is the equivalent point on this side of the winter solstice. Seven and a half weeks either side of 21 December. The clocks must go forwards now, right?

Of course, there are other differences, mainly to do with the time the sun rises: one major objection to having BST all year round is that the sun would rise so late that people would be going to work and school in the dark. For whatever reason (and it's not one I fully understand), the sun actually rises later now that it did that last weekend of October - by about half an hour. The first day we were on GMT, the sun rose at 6.52am. This morning it rose at 7.23am. So, if you stick the clocks an hour forward tonight, the sun wouldn't come up until twenty past eight, which might cause problems.

But even with this caveat, the sun will be rising at 6.53am on 28 February this year. At this point there will be 10h 51m 03s of daylight, the sun reaching the mighty angle of 31.1 degrees. Surely that must be time to put the clocks forward - we could have sunlight until almost 7pm then.

Nope. Have to wait another month. By the time the clocks do eventually go forward, which this year falls on the relatively early weekend of March 24/25, there will be some 12h 27m 53s of daylight with the sun at 40.9 degrees - practically overhead! (OK, not really). This is thirteen and a half weeks after the solstice and the sun will set at 7.26pm that day.

Now, those of you who have not fallen into a coma after reading this need to realise why this is important. There's something deeply depressing about the sun going down early and there's frankly no justification for the clocks going forward so late. Not to mention the increased electricity usage by people having to put on lights at home earlier than necessary. I believe there's some change to the Daylight Savings regime in the US coming up this year - clocks going forward on the second Sunday in March on a trial basis to see if it really does save energy - but overall I'm still disappointed with it. Today especially, since there's really no reason not to go for it right now.

Of course, come the beginning of March, I'll just do it myself. Clocks in house and car go forward and I'll slap on some sunscreen to trick the olfactory nerves into believing it's summer. Means work doesn't start until later, too. Maybe get the barbecue out...

What do you mean, weird?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

7 February 2007: Bislama

Nephew Matt, Salisbury's very own four-year-old Playmobil expert, got a book about the countries of the world. The game is to look at the back of the book, where there's a page containing all the flags of the world organised by continent, and for Matt to pick out a flag. He then spells the name of the country, you then pronounce the name of the country (or guess in case it's a country you've never heard of) and then turn to the appropriate page of the book and find that country on the map.

However, it appears that's not enough. Reports reach us that he is now asking questions about these countries, for example 'what do they eat in South Korea?' and 'how many people live in Kyrgyzstan?'. Of these, the most interesting question to emerge was 'what language to they speak in Vanuatu?'

Now, thanks to Maggie and her VSO exploits, I know the answer to this one. Bislama, a form of pidgin English with elements of various other euro-languages, is the official tongue of the southern Pacific island nation. It's a language that can be generously termed 'descriptive' in the sense that instead of having specific words for things (nouns especially), it just tries to describe them. So off I went to that there interweb thing, trawling for examples of Bislama at its most glorious...

Classic example - the piano:
Wan bigfala blak bokis hemi gat waet tut mo hemi gat blak tut, sipos yu kilim smol, hem i singaot gud.

This is literally translated as:
One big fella black box, him he got whitetooth and him he got blacktooth, suppose you kill him small (strike or hit lightly) him he sing out good.

Until recently the word for heart attack as recorded in the offical dictionary was: Prolem blong hart wet mit blon hart is dead it no wokem god no more.

Other examples of Bislama include:
I want beer - Mi wantem bia
What time will the plane land? - Long wanem taem plaen i fol daon(=fall down)?
His Royal Highness, Prince Charles : nambawan pikinini blong Missus Kwin (nambawan = number one)
A super supreme pizza will come with evri samting
A violin - wan smol box blong white man, oli scratchem beli hem i singaot gudfala
A saw - Pulem i kam, pushem i go, wood i fall down
A helicopter - mixmaster blong Jesus Christ

This last one, apparantly, references Jesus Christ as a result of Cargo Cults which, just like cow-tipping, are not rural myths but documented realities.

Elsewhere I discovered that in Bislama, all motorised vehicles are truks, all birds are pidjins, all creatures in the sea are fis:

Fis i gat naef long tel blong hem = literally fish he got knife on tail belong him (surgeon fish)
bigfala trak = big fella truck (large truck)
smol trak = small car
trak blong doti = truck belong dirty (garbage truck)
pidgin blong solwota = bird belonging to the saltwater, eg tern, pelican, duck etc.

Finally, from the Christmas narrative, the word 'manger' is translated in a highly descriptive fashion - apparantly they laid the baby Jesus in:
wan bokis we oltaim ol man oli stap putum gras long hem, blong ol anamol oli kakae
- which translates as: one box where always all men they are putting grass in him, for all animals always eat.

So, the key question is, can we translate the shipping forecast into Bislama? The whole thing makes 'skirt universe' seem quite tame.