Just to prove the show's really back on the road, as Lucy Van Pelt would say, The Doctor Is In. And I'm waiving the 5 cent fee. After such a long lay-off, there must be loads of questions out there that need answering.

In the meantime, here's a cautionary tale about spoons. Could the dangerous Cutlery Lobby be Michael Moore's next target?


We woz robbed
Urs Meier is a very bad man. If not exactly evil, the Swiss pillock responsible for ending England's hopes at Euro 2004, put in one of the worst performances by a referee that I've ever seen.

Urs has a website. Which invites comments. Das Feedback, as he calls it.

It would be irresponsible of me to countenance hassling the fellow.

But it's a public forum, so he obviously wants honest feedback. It'd be remiss of fans not to give him a full and frank appraisal of his contribution to the beautiful game. After all, Kim Milton Nielsen didn't get off the hook when he sent Beckham off in the '98 World Cup. Consistency is expected of us, especially as this time we really didn't deserve it.

Not that England are entirely blameless for their early exit. They didn't play that well, and dodgy spot or not (the ball definitely moved - I smell a rat, or possibly a mole), Beckham's making a habit of missing penalties. But they did win fair and square, in everybody's eyes save those of Urs.

Urs is presumably his country's top ref, so how can he justify a performance like that? I have an idea. Perhaps Uefa wanted to ensure the hosts did well. Makes good sense politically and financially, as well as ensuring the country still has the Euro 2004 buzz.

Call me a conspiracy nut if you will, but stranger and more despicable plots have been hatched in the name of less important things than football...


Starting over
So, the machine's finally woken from its seven-month hibernation, it's been fed on a diet of fresh OS and hearty hard drive, and the wireless network is puttering away happily to itself. All the glory of a 750k broadband connection is mine to make the best of.

But all this time out of the routine of blogging on an almost daily basis has left me a little rusty.

I'm reluctant to bring the debate over the talent of young Wayne Rooney to this domain, even though it's the biggest issue over which I've ever seriously disagreed with two otherwise intelligent, discerning friends. I won't even tell them they're wrong. Which, for me, is showing the utmost restraint. (Okay, in short, Jen and Dunc really don't like England's new star, and while I accept some of their criticisms - best laid out here - I believe they're being as harshly biased against him as some sections of the country are absurdly weighted in his favour. The lad can play football, and he does it well. Just chill out a little.)

And George just isn't saying anything newsworthily stupid at the moment, not even his insistence that Saddam really was involved with al-Qaeda, when everybody else, including the 9/11 Congressional committee, knows full well that he wasn't. Fess up, George: you lied. Or if you can't do that, at least try to lie a little less.

There's also the publication of the Neil report into how the BBC can avoid landing itself in a mess like the Kelly affair again. One of the suggestions (page 12, "The Right to Know") is that while an anonymous source can be anonymous to the public, as well as the BBC in general, journalists should usually disclose identities to their editors, as well as the Director of BBC News if the story is big enough to merit such a move.

This does not seem to have gone down well with a lot of people. Keeping sources secret is something of a holy grail in journalism, and many feel it's unlikely people will come forward with sensitive stories if their identities are going to be spread all over the Corporation. It might sound precious of us to be complaining, about passing a name on to one or two higher up the editorial food chain, but it really is that big a deal. It'll be interesting to see how this one works itself out.

Now if only I could think of something to write about.


This is Robin very generously giving up his weekend to get my PC working at home (finally!). Not the greatest quality picture, but then what do you expect from a Nokia phone camera? Posted by Hello


The most frustrating thing about this continued exile from my home PC is not being able to blog whenever the mood takes me.

So when certain things happen which I feel I ought to reflect, by the time I reach Blogger the motivation and occasionally clever turn of phrase have disappeared.

In the immortal words of Graham Taylor, do I not like that.

Normal service should resume following the necessary upgrade of my machine next weekend, but in the meantime...

Reagan: It's sad that a death should be considered a good thing. But I'd be lying if I said I was sorry to see him go. Sure, Republicans have every right to mourn him, but the amount and sycophantic tone of coverage in Britain has been sickening. This was the man who put the whole world at risk with his acts of bravado. Granted, his tough guy stance against the crumbling Soviet Union ultimately proved successful. But even now, this is no consolation to those of us who grew up in fear of a nuclear holocaust. Ronnie played Russian roulette and won. But what if he hadn't?

Sexual etiquette: Does someone else getting it on ever become sufficiently public to be classified as anti-social behaviour? In other words, is it fair to let someone share their enjoyment with all their neighbours?

Troy: Very definitely a bad film and a waste of the story, although not without its entertainment value. The girls in the cinema actually cheered on Hector as he dispatched Menelaus. My real regret is that Paris doesn't get what he deserves (i.e. the wrong end of a Greek weapon). But then self-obsessed pretty boys who run all over the world sleeping with whoever they want without regard for anyone else so rarely do. That said Orlando was perfect for the role. Plus, Achilles' fictional (in context) girlfriend was far cuter than Helen. It did make me want to read The Iliad though.

Elections: Take that, Tony. You may think there's no difference between intervening in Sierra Leone and Bosnia (a line trotted out by John Prescott on the piss-poor Frost show) and invading Iraq, but there is. Learn your lesson. Now let's not let Howard take over the country.

American Idol: How come America's standard of contestant (and indeed winner) is so much higher than Britain's? I mean, Will has a good, quirky voice, Michelle can carry a tune, but Fantasia can really sing. Not fair.

Come on England!


I was going to say I'm getting too old for this shit. But two things stopped me. The first was the fact that my brain is too addled for me to credit the movie quote from memory, proving that I was correct. The second reason was that while searching for its origin, I discovered a myriad blogs that had commenced with the very same thought, making it just a little hackneyed.

But the shit of which I speak is the annual Birthday Falloverthon (or Felloverthon, as Sam suggested) which took place on Saturday. Nice mixture of work friends and those from real life. Well, I say mixture. As always happens on these occasions, different parts of one's life tend to separate, making a social butterfly of even the most reticent host.

All good fun, and shamefully cheap for the birthday boy.

But the 4am finishes, the copious regular drinks, the suicidal drinks - treble gin, treble vodka, kahlua, nip of Strongbow, topped off with OJ (Thomas' concoction which - with apologies to those of a delicate disposition - surely took longer to make than it stayed down) - not to mention the nagging worries about stains and breakages - it's all becoming more difficult with each passing year.

So at the age of 32, I'm facing the likelihood that one of these days I'll have to have a responsible grown-up party, that's merry rather than messy, and with more of an emphasis on dinner than drinks.

But when?

Forty would be a sensible cut-off point, if it wasn't such a big number. And 41's out on the prime number rule. As for 42 - well, I couldn't disown Douglas Adams.

So here it is folks: your ten-year warning. Get the drinks in while you can.

Roll call: Thomsk, Josh, Rebecca, Jack, Jos, Lizzie, Robin, Hugh, Sam, Richard, Polly, Simon, Emma, Carl, Peter, Danny Fantastic, Indy, Fiona, Laura, Cait, and Kim. Thanks to all for a fantastic night.