Sunday, September 30, 2007
Watching the kids at the weekend is a much more satisfying football experience in so many ways. For a start, the kids haven't had their heads turned by WAGs, but are eagerly cheered on by a very loyal army of PAGs (Parents and Grandparents).
We go to support our own offspring, but encourage the others. We don't swear, curse or become that other blight on junior football - PAPs (Pushy Aggressive Parents).
Max has now got man of the match two weeks running for his goalkeeping heroics for the Under 7s. Joe got man of the match two weeks ago and was made skipper for the Under 9s at Whaley Bridge where they won 1-0. They've been named team of the week on the Marple Athletic blog, which by a remarkable coincidence is run by me. The proper Marple Athletic site should be ready soon, where we'll be much fairer with such features.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
However, it has also thrown up the debate again about "buying success" which he did. There's a good debate at Comment is Free, here, on why Kenny Dalglish was even more special for building a title winning team at Rovers.
I heard a great rumour last week up in Newcastle. Were Alan Shearer ever to become manager of Rovers, then an as yet untapped pot of Jack Walker money would be opened up for him to create a team to conquer Europe.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Anyway, top bloke. I liked the fact he spat out the name "Francis Baron" with barely concealed disgust. I've never liked the chief executive of the RFU, he's a pompous twit who has landed on his feet. He used to run a dreadful satellite TV company WH Smith Television, which then did Screensport and some other dire channels. I recall him being thanked at a Rugby dinner for the 1991 World Cup as Francis Bacon. His face was a picture.
Interesting perspective on New Zealand from Martin. The fear of failure could well paralyse the team, he thinks.
Here's a dreadful photo of us taken by Damian Sanders on my mobile phone camera.
There are some pics doing the rounds and you will soon be able to see a rogues gallery here. To whet your appetite here's Sean Fitzgerald belting out Delilah.
Don't forget you can still donate online to sponsor me here.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Key moment that summed it up was when all seven foot of Chris Samba apologised to all fifteen stone of the mean glowering steel machine that was playing in Benjani Mwaruwari's shirt.
Might have been a different game if Santa Cruz had scored early, but he didn't.
And we really missed Ryan Nelsen.
Sadly, at the Marple 10k this weekend that is exactly what happened. Runners took a wrong turn and ended up lost in a housing estate in High Lane. Competitors were grumpy, angry, bemused and in the case of my pal Wolfie - amused. Some refused to accept their times.
There are two theories doing the rounds. One is that a gaggle of supporters obscured a sign. Another is that some scallies chucked it in a canal.
Personally, I can't believe it was the best thing to do the day after the extremely successful Marple Food and Drink Festival, but Wolfie assures me that the best prep for a fell run is an Archer's pie.
Friday, September 21, 2007
It's the Marple food and drink festival this weekend. Should be a cracker. Rather than me blather on about it, please check out the programme of events here.
It's also Rachel's birthday. Present is a surprise, but I think she'll like it.
We've got friends coming over on Saturday and I have only just decided what to eat and drink> It's one thing cooking seven plates of tea for us on a weeknight, it's another doing a dinner party which I've not done in yonks.
Joe is playing for Marple Athletic Under 9s at home this week. He was man of the match last week. So proud.
I've got to sort some things for the Marple Athletic website and get them to Stuart Manley at IF Consulting.
Max and Louis are playing for Marple Athletic under 7s at Curzon Ashton on Sunday. Both played in goal last week, both kept clean sheets.
Got to work out where to meet my Dad at Roverrrs on Sunday. Can we overcome last night's defeat in Greece? How badly will we miss Nelsen?
Got to remember to file my predictions in the Guardian league. Currently tucked in behind Neil Tague in the Insider office league table.
On Friday night we have to sort out diaries for the next month. We are both so busy at work at the moment.
But we also have to catch up with the next few episodes of Spooks on the Series 5 DVD. We're in the middle of the Saudi embassy siege at the moment. Next is this one, here, a personal fave. Best Harry Pearce quote: "Please tell me the finest minds of British intelligence can tell me a bit more about these people than typing "League of Christ" into Google dot com."
And send congratulations pressies and card to my friends Mike and Jen on the birth of their daughter Tabitha.
That's eleven, told you we were busy.
I performed I Fought The Law by The Clash. I chose this because I can't really sing - but I can shout - and there was plenty of opportunity to ham it up with an electric guitar (unplugged).
The winner was Sean Fitzgerald from Cobbetts solicitors who did a belting version of Delilah, causing knicker throwing and mass audience participation. So, yes, I fought the law, and the law won.
Everyone did really really well. It was a great night. Mike Reeves and Jeremy Smith put the band together and they were amazing. Real quality.
The target for all our efforts was to raise £20,000 for MENCAP. I think we're well on our way. Thanks too to everyone who has sponsored me. The pledges on my justgiving page, here, are up to £695, and I've had cheques, cash and promises up to £1400.
If you haven't done so already, please donate to support the great work that MENCAP do in the Manchester area.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
The awards event went really well. Even for a Tuesday night plenty of people stayed late. The production of the event was as quality as ever. Understandably there's a feeling around these parts that Northern Rock has been badly treated by the national media, fuelling hysteria and panic.
Big winners on the night were the boys over at McInnes Corporate Finance, which used to be called Quantum but was bought last year. We don't choose the winners, we put it out to a vote in the market and the cheer that greeted Chris Appleby's win showed he was a popular winner. I don't think he was surprised either.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
This gorgeous new brand includes the most striking contour of East Lancashire - Pendle Hill. Rachel still gets goose bumps when she sees it on trips back. I meet a lot of numpties from the public sector who speak utter rubbish, but I've got a lot of time for Max Steinberg (centre, above). Peter Saville (right) had something to do with it too. Yvette (left) is motoring on this one and we wish her every success in the world.
This Thursday September 20, I will be joining a few other good old boys and girls from around town in potentially making a complete fool of myself. I will be the last of eight acts performing on stage with a proper backing band in a (lack of) talent competition we’ve cunningly called Y FACTOR. It's being held at Studio 28, which is on Peter Street in Manchester.
I've never done anything like this before but was persuaded to do so in the cause of MENCAP. All money raised will go towards helping the 200,000 children and adults with a learning disability in the
Please sponsor me. I'd ask you (again) to come and support me on the night, but I think the event has pretty much sold out. Marie at Mencap - firstname.lastname@example.org may have some more tickets.
The easiest way is to make a pledge on a special website I’ve set up here.
Or you can just send me an email telling me what you are willing to pledge.
To read how we all did, there will be coverage in the October issue of North West Business Insider and here on my this blog.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Best speaker at any event I have ever been involved with: Kevin Roberts (2005, Lowry Hotel), link to his blog is here, but he blew our audience away with his force of ego, power of his message and his adrenline shot of inspiration. Awesome.
Worst speaker at any event I have ever been involved with: Wayne Hemingway telling an audience of Liverpool property developers Scouse jokes, then running a slide show of bad buildings in Liverpool all built by his audience.
Best comic at a business event: Sean Styles.
Business speaker I've seen the most: Alastair Campbell (five, best was at Hyde Town Hall)
Best politician at an after dinner event: David Cameron, CBI in Liverpool 2007.
Worst politician: Charles Kennedy, Pro Manchester 2002.
Best rescue of a night by a regular fellah after the speaker was too pissed to speak: Ken Russell, Pro Manchester 2002.
Best business speaker: I can't think of a better one than Michelle Mone last night. Very good indeed.
Best feeling at a business event: seeing Lisa Miles and Neil Tague light up a room as they both did at different events in the last couple of weeks.
Worst feeling: when a speaker you've booked rambles on and on and on. Or is rubbish. Nighat Awan was rubbish and rambled on and on and on.
Great do, I really like the good old boys from private equity and corporate finance. Nice buzz of anticipation around the room for Insider's Dealmakers Awards this year.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
There's an event soon where local business people are looking to pool resources and share knowledge and information. I hope it's a great success. It's being held on Wednesday, October 17 from 6 pm to 9 pm at Marple Golf Club, where 16 business suppliers will be on hand to give business improvement advice to members. Exhibitors will be from the fields of marketing, professional services, IT and business services.
OK, so the idea that I could describe a book in the time it took our lift to get the 8th floor is somewhat tested this month. Let's pretend I'm either in the lift of our Yorkshire office, or at the Beetham Tower in Manchester (where I'm going tonight). Here's a longer review than normal of Andrew Anthony The Fallout: How a Guilty Liberal Lost His Innocence. This review will be published in the next issue of Success magazine, which we produce for Manchester Metropolitan University (the Poly, to me and you).
It used to be fairly clear what it meant to be on the left of the political spectrum. You were against poverty, sexism, racism and injustice. You supported free speech, gay rights and a redistribution of wealth to make society fairer. You were viscerally suspicious of anyone in business. However, a number of epoch defining historical events have thrown that left label into complete flux. First, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the death of Soviet era socialism, effectively slayed socialism as a touchstone, or ideology. Then when identity (race, sex, sexuality) replaced class, along came 911 and the war on terror that followed which confused everyone again. Andrew Anthony’s personal journey from London council estate, to Nicaraguan coffee fields through to a career as a writer for liberal newspapers such as The Guardian and The Observer has led him to question the basis of what it means to be a liberal in 2007. He questions the moral climate that sees so many people march in such numbers on London streets against the prospect of regime change in Saddam’s Iraq, or when prominent writers like John Pilger explain the 7/7 bombers as part of a movement against American imperialism. He also poses some uncomfortable questions. If the 7/7 bombers were disaffected and society was to blame for their actions for alienating them as Muslims, then why was the same excuse not brought out for nazi nail bomber David Copeland? Sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, doesn’t it?
One of the most powerful chapters in the book takes in
Taking in difficult subjects like race, crime, freedom of speech and the rule of law, it is at times an exhausting read, but still has funny bits, which draw a smile rather than the frowned not which seemed to grip me all the way through.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
We've just had our excellent Leaders Lunch at the Lowry Hotel, Manchester. Andrew Neil was the guest speaker, who was very good. He was a bit gloomy though. The end of cheap money, the broken society, a hung parliament, the break up of Britain. Thank goodness we're all chippy northerners.
Monday, September 10, 2007
As a spectator sport however, I do enjoy it. I've been to Sale Sharks a few times since Insider got involved, and though I don't follow the game that neatly I do appreciate it's skill and physical power.
Rod Liddle in The Spectator this week - link here - describes it as "a useless game" and "a sport for gay, middle-class cavemen." He goes on: "it is just one step ahead of that most ludicrous of all sports, basketball...the only sport improved as a spectacle when played by paraplegics."
This Rugby World Cup don't have go on though, eh? It started this weekend and ends on the 20th of October. Ridiculous. The only reason I can possibly fathom for such an epic tournament is for so much rugby to be played that the risks by injury could even the teams out a bit. Frankly, that it's the only way New Zealand could be beaten.
Watched a very lame drama last night called The Dinner Party. It was supposed to be a modern version of Abigail's Party but despite a strong cast it lacked the subtlety and cutting writing the original. Utterly predictable. Also, it seems to have rattled the cage of a neighbour of mine, here.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Here's how they'd line up as a starting eleven...
In goal would be summer signing Gunnar Nielsen, playing for the Faroe Islands under 21 side, away in Italy on Friday 7th September before a home match against Greece on Wednesday 12th.
At right back is Tony Kane, the Belfast-born defender has been called up for the Northern Ireland senior squad for their Euro 2008 qualifiers away in Latvia on September 8th and Iceland on the 12th.
The centre halves would be Eddie Nolan and Andre Ooijer. Irishman Nolan is in the under 21 squad for their championship qualifying match against Portugal in Cork, whilst Dutchman Ooijer is back in the Holland squad for their home match against Bulgaria followed by an away trip to face Albania.
Completing the back four would be left back Martin Olsson, the young Swede made his senior bow for Rovers in their UEFA Cup win over MyPa last Thursday, his reward is a call up to the Swedish under 21 squad for their games against Latvia (away) and Germany (home).
Holding the fort in midfield has to be Aaron Mokoena, the defensive midfielder has an African Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia on Sunday, before a home friendly against Uruguay.
Attacking from the right side of midfield would be David Bentley. He of course has been called up by England for their Wembley qualifiers against Israel and Russia on Saturday 8th and Wednesday 12th respectively.
Surging forward from the left is Morten Gamst Pedersen. The Rovers winger is off to Moldova representing Norway on Saturday, before a second qualifier against Greece in Oslo the following Wednesday.
Back in the international fold, and dropping just off the front two would be fans favourite Benni McCarthy. The Rovers striker, who bagged his first Premier League goal of the season in the 1-0 win over Manchester City, travels to Johannesburg for South Africa's qualifier against Zambia followed by the friendly against Uruguay.
Leading the line up front and with possibly the furthest to travel would be summer signing Roque Santa Cruz. His Paraguay team have two international friendlies away from home, the first against Venezuela on September 8th, the second El Salvador on Wednesday 12th.
Last, but by no means least is local hero Matt Derbyshire. Fresh from scoring on his first start for England's under 21s last month, the Rovers striker will be hoping to maintain his excellent goals to games ratio when the under 21s have two away qualifying matches, Montenegro on Friday September 7th before a trip to Bulgaria for the game on Tuesday.
Not a bad eleven I'm sure you'd agree. Just don't injured.
The evil witch of the WAGs - Stevie Gerrard's Alex Curran - writes a column on her vapid life.
A catty dissection is here:
"Steven's away with England," she informs any readers unaware that her husband will be wheeled on in a bath chair and required to bring in the harvest himself during England's forthcoming 0-0 draw with Israel. "So on Saturday I'm having a few of the girls round for an Ann Summers party."
Well, these scheduling clashes can't be helped, I suppose. So while Steven is hopped-up on cortisone and trying not to get in the way of Emile Heskey's turning circle, Alex will be deliberating between sundry Rabbits and 12in dildos.
It would take a special sort of jaded fool to use this knowledge to make some point about England's current impotence or emasculation, which leaves Lost in Showbiz eminently qualified to oblige.A link to it is here.
The other presenters were quite brilliant. I was sandwiched between Phil Jones from Brother (far left) and John Clayton from BBC Radio Lancashire (second left).
Phil was a tough act to follow. He was funny, warm, intelligent and got across a very powerful message about how he works. He talked people through his recent re-pitch process and how he came to appoint Manchester agency City Press.
After me was John. I love BBC Radio Lancashire. I think it's a station with a very clear sense of its audience and what the listeners want. John has an instinctive grasp of what will work on radio and brings a great verve to the art of radio. It's all about people and their stories.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Rovers are playing well. Took in the Man City game. I kept my counsel on their good start to the season, but I knew it couldn't last.
It was good to see the papers and TV giving Rovers some credit as a footballing side. Warnock and Dunn were both superb on Saturday, I wonder how long it's going to be before they get drafted into the fringes of the England team.
Returning to the real world has been exhausting but fun. Plans are well underway for our new South West Business Insider magazine. The latest North West mag is a cracker. It's our Leaders Lunch next week with Andrew Neil and everyone seems well.
I was dreading the pile of stuff to deal with on my return. According to Lucy Kellaway in yesterday's FT the average person has 600 emails waiting after a two-week break. Management expert Kevan Hall advises you to delete the lot. Anything important will be sent again, everything else wasn't important.
I had a manageable pile of dross to delete in about ten minutes, sorted by sender. The important stuff was then filed into different project folders, where some of it still sits. The to-do list is getting smaller. The diary is getting fuller. The work goes on.
One message I got from an old pal made the ludicrous suggestion that Roger Cashman, the mouthy Insider columnist, is in fact me. Do you honestly think I could write anything as offensive as this.