Your Icecream Flavour is...
Cookies 'n Cream!
Smooth and creamy with a few rough bits mixed in, you are a real treat! You are probably very popular amongst your friends. Remember too much of a good thing is not always good! Don't lay it on too thick!
What is your Icecream Flavour?

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Touched by balls of greatness
I've never been that much of a fan of rugby union.

This is probably because of its place as the sport for the great and the good at dear old Crossley Heath school. Being short, plump, slow and generally physically underdeveloped when I arrived at the age of 11, it will surprise few to know that I was not part of the elite.

No place in the first fifteen for me. Nor the reserves.

No, by the second year it was widely accepted by both the fascists who ran the PE department, as well as my peers, that I was more suited to spending gym class with Paul Meredith, the kid with MS.

So I got my kicks from rugby league (egg-chasing of choice for West Yorkshire's working class), along with American football, cricket and, eventually, the Beautiful Game.

I carried my disdain for the elitist code of my schoolday enemies into adulthood, never really bothering to learn the rules.

Even now, I struggle to muster any enthusiasm for the sport, occasionally watching an international match, but caring little for the domestic game (although I did, of course, welcome 2003's World Championship as eagerly as most, simply for the reason that as a Newcastle United fan of less than 35 years old, celebrating silverware in any discipline is something of a novelty).

So Sunday's trip to watch Newcastle Falcons play Harlequins was, for me, more of an experiment than a foray into genuine fandom.

That said, the appearance of England hero Jonny Wilkinson (in his first game back from the most recent injury) was definitely exciting.

What I certainly didn't expect was for one of Jonny's successful kicks to sail over my head. Bound for the man in the row behind me, he knocked it forward, from where it bounced off my back, and into the opportunistically-positioned hands of Thomas.

(And that little sequence says a lot about my relationship with the older of my two brothers, as well as our relative approaches to the world - but that's another story).

Shortly after this happened, Jonny went off. Injured. Again. And Newcastle ended up losing.

But a ball kicked by Jonny Wilkinson hit me, me. You certainly can't say that every day.

So while I can't say my first taste of live rugby union acted as any kind of Damascene conversion in overturning my deep-seated prejudice against the code, it would be equally false to say that my brush with one of the greatest left feet in international sport left me that bit closer to admitting that maybe, just maybe, this game ain't all that bad...


I know I've been quiet for a while - I've had nothing much to say. Or maybe it's just that I've not felt the need to say anything. Everyone needs a rest from time to time.

But I can't let this piece of news (Kaplinsky wins big at TV awards) go without mention.

All I want to know is how can this happen? What kind of industry am I working in? Is there a new, derogatory definition of the word best with which I'm unfamiliar? And did the judges ever watch Kaplinsky stumble through the easiest of two-ways at seven in the morning before casting their votes?

The dancing girl's not a great journalist, certainly not a great broadcaster, she's tits and teeth for those who don't like to think about their news, and she's not even that attractive to boot.

Is it a coincidence that Kaplinsky's partner, Dermot, handles most of the heavy-hitting interviews, while Natasha is quietly ushered towards the human interest and fluffy stories?

Sky's Julie Etchingham (who we traded for Natasha) is worth half a dozen Kaplinskys, as are many of the winner's less well lauded BBC colleagues: Fiona Bruce, Mishal Husain, the superlative Lyse Doucet, Zeinab Badawi, Joanna Gosling, Anna Jones, Sophie Raworth, Sarah Montague, Kirsty Wark and others, not to mention the likes of Kirsty Young on five and Sarah Smith on 4. And that's just the ladies.

"Despite all the sequins and other exciting things I have done this year, I'm so thrilled to still be considered a newscaster," she said.

By some love, maybe, but no one I know.

The sooner she makes the permanent move to light entertainment the better. Then maybe we'll get a Breakfast of substance rather than being fobbed off with a Pop Tart.