>Rest in Peace Scoobs

>Joseph Barbera, creator of Scooby Doo, (ahh man I loved Scooby), The Flintstones, The Jetsons and of course, Tom and Jerry died yesterday aged 95, appropriately in a place called Studio City.

While I’ve always enjoyed Tom and Jerry, it pales in my love for Scooby. That daffy look he had on his face when the ‘monster’ closed, the cheeky smile at the end of every episode and his conversations with Shaggy will stand the test of time for the themes for kids are immortal.

That’s something I have learnt of late when with Tash’s kids, Imogen and Sam. Not matter when kids are born, they still love being chased, love to watch juggling and magic tricks and to be swung around.

Gotta love Scooby.

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>The twisting over time

>
Visiting Iraq this week, Mr Blair reiterated his determination to stand “four square” behind the Iraqi government in its battle to defeat terrorists.

In a time when even the Bush, the Macbeth of my story, is beginning to have doubts about the wisdom of his endeavours, Lady Macbeth playing a previously supporting role, attempts to reinforce their illegal actions to maintain momentum in fear of their political fall. Its pathetic. Politically bankrupt and almost universally loathed, our Lady Macbeth is still pushing the same policies, the same old, discredited rhetoric.

Meanwhile our troops fight and die without sufficient equipment in worn deserts, far from home at Christmas. To think I voted for Blair when I was younger. I hope my political trust comes back one day but with my outlook and personality, I feel it won’t. But I don’t feel like I’ll be losing out anyhow.

The link above and below indicates how little Blair influences Bush on the invasion and how our national credibility has been lost. And now, of course we want to develop more nuclear weapons when the missiles require American permission to fire which would never come from a fiercely pragmatic America. But once again, we are in the firing line with little way to protect ourself. Similar to the Falklands War when we asked to borrow an aircraft carrier from the America yet were refused as America had ‘interests to protect and cover up’ in the murderous right-wing regime in Argentina at the time.

Who is the greater fool? The fool or the fool that follows.

>Talking to strangers

>When I was in London I can remember thinking that out of the 8m milling inhabitants, I knew maybe 50. We all love to say small world isn’t it? but it happens so little in reality. But why do we know so few people when I see hundreds, maybe thousands of people a day? It’s especially an English trait to be reserved, respectful of other’s privacy, unsure of the neighbour’s kid’s names. Maybe this is a more middle-class aberration.

When I was staying with my sister in London, I chatted with one of her housemates about travelling. She commented that she hated the fact that people she didn’t know would talk to her. She just wanted to sit on the beach. Consequently she left Thailand with no more friends than she had previously. I left the conversation disappointed but not surprised.

My travelling experience has taught me to talk to people as a necessity but more important as part of the growing up and out. I met Joe as we were both heading north into Brazil from Argentina; Ben as we were going to Cuba and both had no idea where to stay; I met Luke Parrott in Japan when I was invited to a dinner for a new guy in regional office and noticed through the meal how bored he was listening to his boss talk in his ear. I didn’t have much time for the boss either so I knew we would get along. I still remember the Japanese woman who tried to talk to me on the train in Hokkaido. I spent New Year with Ben, a French guy who I meet playing pool in Cambodia. I spent an incredibly drunken Chinese New Year a month later with Ben, his girlfriend and Kim in Vietnam. I had met Kim in the street and he was lost, looking for a place to stay. So I gave him directions to a hostel and ultimately walked him there. There are many more; Jeroen and Daphne, Gustavo and Lise, even Christine and Scotty.

The story is meeting Christine is a classic. I was in Japan. It was the 2nd of January 2002. I was due to meet Luke in Osaka but as usual I was late. When I got to the bar, LP was sitting with two girls. I got a drink, sat down and conversed like we were all friends. Later I asked LP how he knew the girls and he said he didn’t, just needed someone to talk to as I was late. 9 hours later, we were all drinking still. We were friends for the rest of the year and Christine and I lived together in Korea for a year and have been firm friends that first meeting.

Scotty, I met in a mate’s restaurant. I was talking to Sarah who was looking at clothes on the laptop and once I found out the Gorings were from Sheffield, the conversation flowed. Later Scotty professed his love for rugby and a bound was formed. We watched almost all the British Lions games together, drank ourselves silly throughout and when I returned to Korea later that year, I lived with Scotty and Sarah and did so happily and gratefully.

The link below is to a story on the BBC website. It’s an article on a photographer’s story of meeting those people we see everyday, yet never speak to. The newsagent, the street cleaner, the chip shop guy, the old man next door. All these ordinary strangers who observe you everyday in varying detail, yet you never know their name. How is it that you can have long conversation yet ever know each other’s names? This photographer, Susie Rea decided to talk to those people, ask about their lives and photograph them. It’s something I have thought about recently with the passing of my granddad. There was so much that he had seen. And as Phillip K Dick said, all will be lost, like tears in the rain.

Intimate Strangers :

Story here
Photos here

>European draws

>The next round of NUFC’s glorious…alright, up-and-down season continues with the new UEFA Cup draw which pits us against Zulte-Waregem, a small Belgian team, followed by a draw against eitehr Fenerbahce of Turkey or AZ of Holland. I just spoke to Joe and we’re gonna try and get to the away games. It’ll take some planning with my trip but sure it’s possible. Howay the lads!

Zulte-Waregem or NEWCASTLE (14/15 & 22 Feb)

Winner v Fenerbahce or AZ Alkmaar ( 8 & 14/15 March)

Champions League Draw below

Porto v Chelsea –> (Chelsea)
Celtic v AC Milan –> (AC Milan)
PSV Eindhoven v Arsenal –> (Arsenal)
Lille v Manchester United –> (Manchester United)
Roma v Lyon –> (Lyon)
Barcelona v Liverpool –> (Barcelona)
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich –> (Real Madrid)
Inter Milan v Valencia –> (Valencia)

My predictions in brackets.

I can’t see many surprises here. Liverpool could beat Barcelona but I can’t see Barca not scoring so it’s gonna be difficult for LFC to out-score them. Other than that, Only the last two games are a slightly unpredictable. Some good teams will be left after this. Gonna be a tough year to win it.

>Have You Seen This Man?

>News reports from Germany indicate that Federal Police are investigating Chelsea FC in a case of missing persons. According to the wire, a German national told his family he was going to London to play for a smaller team and hasn’t been seen since. A police spokesman said, “It’s possibly a scam, maybe even kidnapping.” Michael Ballack of Munich allegedly received an contract, offering huge remuneration but hasn’t been since going to London to take up the contract. German Federal Police are worried this may be a case of mistaken identity with the prospective employer believing they were signing a world-class player. They are currently in contact with the London Police in the increasingly frantic serach for Mr Ballack. Should you know anything, then please, keep it to yourself.

>World’s Tallest Man Saves Dolphin

>The world’s tallest man has saved two dolphins by using his long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out dangerous plastic shards. Mongolian herdsman Bao Xishun was called in after the dolphins swallowed plastic used around their pool at an aquarium in Fushun, north-east China.

This is a great story. More here.

I knew tall people were useful for more than getting boxes off the top of the wardrobe. I have always been fascinated by the size of things. I always loved the Guiness Book of Records every year, seeing what had changed. But I was always fascinated by the tallest, the fattest, the oldest of species. The heaviest elephant, biggest crocodile, oldest human.

So here are the world’s tallest humans. There is something ridiculously magnificent about these people. An overwhelming oddness. When someone very tall walks in the room, you can’t help but stare, slightly open-mouthed. You almost feel like congratulating them on their ‘achievement’.

I’ve had the same situation when I met some others in other forms of life. I peppered a girl from Bemruda with dumbass questions in when I randomly met her in Mexico City earlier this year. After all, you have know about that damn disappearing ship malarky. And that poor Scottish guy in Argentina 3 years ago is probably still avoiding brown-haired smirkers after I pre-fixed every question with “I know this is probably stupid but…”. For this guy had just come back from Antartica after 2 years on the British base. Amazing stuff and they didnt even have TV or the internet there. That’s some quality book reading time there.

Apparently this Indian guy, Vikas Uppal, is now over 8ft 8in and as it says, not much is known about his present duckings through doorways life. Dr Luke was trying to persuade me to go to India recently and if ever there was a reason, that’s it. DELHI!!

More tall people here.