Life imitates Gruts

Remember this from December 2009?

I see Manchester City F.C. has a new manager, Roberto Mancini.

This is blatant Gunners envy. The Citizens simply couldn't stomach the fact that Arsenal were the only Premiership side whose manager, Arsène Wenger, had a name which was practically identical to the club's. So Man. City had to have Mancini. It was as simple as that.

What nonsense can we expect next? Chelsea Clinton to manage The Pensioners? Trevor Nunn to take over at Goodison? The late Oliver Poole to replace Benítez at Anfield?

Well, not quite. But I couldn't help noticing that the team synonymous with the Kop has just appointed a new manager with the made-up name of Jurgen Klopp.

The world has gone mad.


I have to say, 19 across proved spectacularly difficult—although we got there in the end:

Crossword puzzle

Forward planning

Some chap in front of me in the queue at Sainsbury's today bought £190's-worth of Budweiser and a packet of paracetamol. Admirable forward planning.

He then rather spoilt matters by attempting to pay in cash, using Scottish bank notes. Checkout chaos ensued.

[Yes, I am aware that ‘forward planning’ is hideously tautological.]

Paul redux

You might remember that around this time last year, I wrote about my nutty former school-mate Paul, who had just run from London to Dover, swam the English Channel, then cycled to Paris.

Paul is currently to be seen in BBC2's Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week at 21:00 on Sunday evenings. He's the one looking utterly knackered. I appreciate that doesn't help whittle things down a great deal, so here's a screen-grab of Paul doing the ‘Ruck Run’, so you all know who to cheer for:

Paul looking knackered

Paul looking knackered recently.

(I beat Paul at squash once, you know. That would have been before most of the other contestants on Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week were born.)

My super-hero name

Last night, I dreamt I went to inspect my handiwork in a palatial, L-shaped room that I'd stripped of wallpaper the previous day. To my dismay, I discovered that, while I had been away, someone had re-papered the walls and ceiling with a hideous, embossed Anaglypta. The re-papering, I realised, bore all the hallmarks of the Incredible Hulk.

Passing down a long passageway, I came to a door behind which I could hear voices talking. I knocked and entered, only to discover that I had interrupted an earnest conversation between Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). All three were wearing civilian clothing, rather than being ‘suited up’ in their super-hero garb, but it was obvious even to me that some dire emergency was afoot.

Clearly wishing to get rid of me, Tony Stark informed me that he needed my help on an important mission. He handed me a small metal container, about the size of a tin of shoe polish, but without any of those stupid twisty things on the side to help you open them. As you might expect from the creator of the Iron Man suits, the container looked indescribably cool in gleaming, gun-metal grey—although I was secretly a bit disappointed that he hadn't thought to throw a little hotrod red in there before he got Jarvis to render it. Tony explained that he was supposed to be cooking an extra-special paella for all the other Avengers, Nick Fury, and the senior agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that evening, but that he was now in a bit of a rush, so he needed me to get started on the rice. He had, he said, already made some of his extra-special chicken stock, which I would find simmering in the kitchen. All I had to do was introduce the stock a few spoonfuls at a time into the rice, the requisite amount of which I would find in the cool, metal container. At this point, Natasha Romanoff gave one of her secret little smirks and made her excuses to leave before the only ‘girl’ present was also roped into cooking duties.

I looked down at the cool, metal container in my hand, thinking that it couldn't possibly contain enough rice to go round—especially if Dr Banner transformed into the Hulk—but Tony Stark assured me that the rice was a very special form of genetically modified rice invented by Stark Industries, and that there would be plenty enough for all. So, I headed off to the kitchen to make a start on the paella. And then I woke up.

Our superheroes eating

I don't think helping Tony Stark to cook paella for his super-hero friends and S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues quite qualifies me for enrolment in the Avengers Initiative, but I do now at least know what my own super-hero name is:

The truth is, I am Rice Man.

Fade to black. Sound of wind blowing across ocean.

Jen and I have just returned from our annual jaunt to Anglesey. While we were there, we took the opportunity to recreate the haunting final shot from one of our very favourite films.

Compare and contrast:

Two ships

The view from the headland at Bull Bay, Anglesey last Monday.

Two yachts

The closing shot from Master & Commander: the Far Side of the World (2003).

We shall beat to quarters! Quick's the word and sharp's the action! Never mind the manoeuvres, just go straight at 'em! etc.

Oh, the humanity!

BBC: Cilla Black's funeral to feature song from Sir Cliff Richard

Hasn't her poor, bereaved family suffered enough already?

Having said that, I'm probably missing a golden opportunity to pop down there and play the Devil Woman Game.