Tag Archives: football

Swedes lead the world in mad

I thought Brits set the pace in mad until a Swedish man made news with his botched attempt to split the atom . . . in his kitchen.

Check out the article below for the full story, my favourite bit was when asked on BBC World Service where he had bought the raw materials he replied, “eBay”.  I’m still not sure whether I burst out laughing because it was funny or petrifying.

Swedish man arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen

Dubai is not a scary place to visit after all

Early this year there were some scary stories that Dubai is a very dangerous place to visit if you are British as you have a better than evens chance of ending up in prison for smiling in public.  Now there is a report out using data rather than hearsay and guess what, Dubai doesn’t even warrant a mention.

Brits behaving less badly

The first rule of customer service

Don’t automatically put your valued customer (aka the guy who buys stuff from you) onto an auto responder with the memorable line: Your call is important to us.  I’m not sure why I do it but I immediately reply, ‘if my call is so important you would have a real person talking to me right now with a nice telephone manner being very helpful’.  End result, happy customer and I tell my friends and work colleagues about how great you are.  Also while I’m on the subject here is another tip; if someone presses 2 for English it works better if the person who answers speaks English.   

Catching taxis to gloat!

I’ve had a big week catching taxis, they would pitch up to my house and I would ask, are you Indian?  If the reply was yes I jumped in and talked cricket nonstop.  Back in Blighty there is always a lot of Daily Mail sponsored debate about immigration, Norman Tebbit famously set an Englishness test for anyone who wasn’t Anglo Saxon white.  He reckoned everyone with a British passport that doesn’t support England at cricket should be sent back from whence they came.  Which brings me nicely to the picture below.

England vs India 2nd test

Real Estate still suffering

There was interesting piece in Arabian Business last week looking at Real Estate projects that have stalled, one of which was Universal Studios. With the continuing glut of residential and office space which, from what I can see is being significantly added to, Universal Studios was a great idea as it would have pulled in more tourists.  Dubai is short of major entertainment attractions; Alton Towers would do really well here.


Universal Studios

Universal studios

One other great story from Arabian Business, the UAE is going to bid for the Olympics, a marathon in July would be interesting.

How to get noticed

Companies spend a huge amount of money buying visibility and another big amount creating messages that get noticed and make people do something they weren’t necessarily planning to do, e.g. buy a Ferrari instead of a Toyota Prius.

An Abu Dhabi Sheikh has taken a bold approach to raising his profile by having his name sculpted in sand so big that it can be seen from space.

Hamad from space

Down, down and ever down

I hate to say this but America has caught a huge cold (just a sneeze used to trigger a worldwide recession).  I’ve long been a bear on the word economy and now we are about to enter what could be a deeper depression than hit in 2009, then we were talking about financial institutions, now it’s government debt.  Those with a strong stomach and a glass of the stiff stuff from MMI read this article and prepare to batten down the hatches.

The man who predicted this

Happier days for Man City

To close on a lighter (sport-related) note there was a time not long ago when Man City were all about entertainment, you never knew what was coming next but it was usually very funny.

A former player’s, Paul Lake, autobiography, I’m Not Really Here, tells the story of one match in 1989 when City could have guaranteed promotion by beating Bournemouth at Maine Road. They were 3-0 up at half-time – party time! – and the manager, Mel Machin, told the players he was bringing in a special friend for the team talk. In came the comedian Eddie Large – shiny silver suit, sleeves rolled up – to dole out individual advice to the players … each time using a different celebrity impersonation. “Deputy Dawg ordered me to keep tight in defence,” Lake recalls. “Cliff Richard advised Trevor Morley to shoot on sight, Harold Wilson told Bob Brightwell to keep it simple and Benny from Crossroads told Andy Dibble to stay awake.” The game finished 3-3.

Happy days and I’m sure Mario Balotelli would have thrived in this environment.   

Top 5

My wife knows I can’t resist a gadget, maybe it’s a boy thing.  Here are my favourites:

  • Bokashi bin that turns food waste into compost (for my tomatoes)
  • Pickle fork for extracting pickled onions from a jar
  • Extra long shoe horn
  • Weber Q 100 gas BBQ
  • iPad 2

Off on my hollers (back to the UK, quick blast of The Clash White Riot to get me in the mood), see you when I get back.

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BlackBerry apps launches at last

Finally, finally we have a BlackBerry apps store in the UAE.  For the very few of you who have followed my blog from the beginning you may recall I was saying BlackBerry is toast if they don’t sort out their apps.  The perception that Apple have more and better apps may still kill BlackBerry but at least they are back in with a fighting chance of surviving/thriving especially if they design some funky phones for BBM loving teenagers (and launch Android apps on BlackBerry as has been hotly rumoured).  My app tip of the week is WorldMate, it’s free and it’s a corker.  http://www.worldmate.com/  

Favourite ad of the month

My pick of the ads actually never saw the light of day due to a complaint by a sense of humourless M&S – killjoys.

S&M

The deal offered three items for £29 – a lingerie “main”, sex toy “side”, and flavoured lubrication “dessert”.

No sooner had I stopped chuckling than my attention was drawn to a real rib tickler.  With the football season drawing to a close and Mourinho ranting about his players being sent off, The Guardian ran a story on most obscure sendings off.  Hankies to the ready before you read on:

“On 30 April 2007, Kingsley Royal, mascot for Reading, was sent off by Mike Dean during a match against Newcastle Utd,” writes John O’Brien. “He was alleged to have strayed too close to the pitch and confused the officials, who apparently couldn’t easily distinguish between a professional footballer and a bloke in a lion costume. Despite the loss of such a key performer, Reading clung on to their 1-0 lead to take all three points.

During his next home match, Kingsley wore a T-shirt that proclaimed he was “INNOCENT” under his kit and revealed it during a pretend goal celebration.”

Kingsley the lion

What do ad agencies do?

It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot.  The only answer I’ve been able to give that people relate to is that ad agencies are a big bit of Gandalf the Wizard rounded off with a flick of Harry Potter.  In essence people give us think-outside-the-box-never-been-done-before-briefs to solve yesterday.  Fortunately some clever chaps on Dragon’s Den invented a wand in the last series and I’ve never looked back (including creating a magical campaign for Air Miles in one of our finest hours).

Last week I said it was pointless showing a picture of Bin Laden, well the Americans have finally relented.  They briefed an ad agency and the agency worked it’s magic.

Politicians looking astounded 

Bad news on the heaven front

In his latest musings Stephen Hawking has stated that there is no life after death.  This is what he said:

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”.

As I digested this bad news, up popped another story that a test has been developed that will analyse your genes to predict exactly when you die (assuming of course that the bus doesn’t get you first).

Stephen Hawking

Sad about Seve

While I sort of get where Stephen Hawking is coming from I just don’t believe Seve isn’t at this very moment showing off his miraculous powers of escape to the big guy in the sky.  Seve was the genius who inspired most golfers of my generation to take up the game.  Unbelievable to watch and over flowing with charisma.  He should have lived to shoot a two under par 68 on his 100th birthday!

My top 5 golfers that I’ve seen play (in the flesh)

  • Ernie Els
  • Tiger Woods
  • Seve Ballesteros
  • Rory McIlroy
  • My golfing mate Simon Harris!

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Is Planet Earth telling us something?

With the truly seismic events in Japan following hot on the heels of the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand the only possible answer is yes.  8.9 on the Richter scale is a monster and the tsunami that followed made for terrible and compulsive viewing.  Japan apparently moved 3m and the earth has shifted on its axis.  I’ve reached the point of thinking we are like lemmings with our insatiable appetite for consuming everything the earth has to offer driving us ever nearer to the edge of the cliff.

Car embedded in a house in Japan

With this in mind I was dismayed when the greedy, bonus gobbling bankers at HSBC wanted AED 450 for a loan clearance letter (standard template, change the name and account number, 30 seconds tops) and then subsequently heartened by this titbit from the latest Forbes 100 rich list.  Carlos Slim Hélu, the Mexican telecoms tycoon, is unrivalled in the No 1 slot with a personal value of $74bn, an increase of more than $20bn.  The next two in the list – Microsoft’s Bill Gates and the investor Warren Buffett – can only muster a lacklustre $56bn and $50bn respectively, but then they are both preoccupied with giving away most of their wealth to charitable causes.  

More cause for concern

 I was also very disillusioned about our collective intelligence when I discovered that Big Momma’s House 3 is whooping the King’s Speech at the box office. The latter-named movie, starring Colin Firth, made its debut at the 2010 Dubai International Film Festival and has earned $473,784 during its four-week run in the UAE.  But despite sweeping the board at the film industry’s most prestigious event, ‘The King’s Speech’ is still being floored in the UAE by a comedy about cross-dressing FBI agents. ‘Big Momma’s House 3’ earned AED 1,801,645 ($490,490) in its first week of release and attracted nearly 54,000 admissions. My 14-year-old daughter, gave Big Momma’s House 3 a sympathy vote of one out of 10!  

Big Momma's House 3Big Mommas House

Maybe we have all been brainwashed by Hollywood into watching rubbish movies. The power of brainwashing was recently proved by a study in Germany into the efficacy of placebos, it turns out that in many cases they work just as well as the real thing.  At the same time I’m reminded of my good friend David Faulkner who mistakenly served up grape juice rather than wine to his guests, by the time he discovered the error of his ways the party was going with a swing.  

Cause for hope

I was privileged to go to two brilliant events last week.  The first was the gala opening event of the Emirates Festival of Literature; Michael Palin was excellent, exactly as you would expect: warm, intelligent and humorous.  For some reason they put him on first so some people left at the interval before the awe-inspiring Wole Soyinka came on stage.  Mr Soyinka is a 77-year-old Nobel literature prize-winner from Nigeria.  He looked like a mad professor, spoke intelligently with a beautiful almost beguiling accent and has in his bank of memories a truly inspiring life story which includes fighting dictatorships.  His message of hope as glimpsed through the enduring virtue of human dignity had particular poignancy when set against what is happening in Libya.  Gaddafi may hold back the tide but sooner or later he is going to be swept away in a tsunami of resistance amongst a people that have tasted the forbidden fruit of freedom.

Wole Soyinka

The second event starring Georg Riedel was also an eye opener.  Mr Riedel is a wine loving Austrian entrepreneur, tenth generation owner of family business Riedel which has created a range of glassware tailored to grape varieties.  It’s difficult to explain but starting with water he demonstrated how the taste characteristics of liquids change according to which glass you drink them out of.  I was king of the sceptics (and the clown that spilt a whole cup of wine over myself halfway through his talk) but oh my goodness, maybe it was magic or suggestive selling and I was struggling with the science, but a Pinot Noir that tasted scrumptious in a Pinot Noir glass tasted very average in a Cabernet Sauvignon glass.  If you like your wine I strongly recommend a mid-sized investment in wine glasses that perfectly complement your favourite wines.

Riedel glasses

The aftermath

The aftermath of my tasting

Mr George is the main man

Last week I suffered the worst a man can get; my BlackBerry blinked and the whole world went to sleep.  I fired up Google, searched for BlackBerry repairs in Dubai, found a whole lot of comment saying that the shops selling BlackBerries are dreadful before uncovering a gem.  Take a bow Mr George from Celfixx, a phone call and a quick trip later and my rescued from the bin BlackBerry is as good as new.  Celfixx sort all mobiles including those pesky iPhones.  Any problems call Mr George on +971 50 705 9292 or make a visit to: http://celfixx.com/

A few recommendations to end

Anyone near our office in Media City must pop in to sample our harvested tomatoes.  Take at look at the ecstasy on the face of our latest visitor, Mr Chris Briers of MMI.  Don’t tell MMI I told you this but the Drostdy Hof Claret wine box which is on promo this month is great value and tastes good in any container.

Chris eating tomato

No films to review this week but for anyone who liked my Hold Steady recommendation check out Gaslight Anthem.  More Bruce than Bruce himself.


I’ve just realised to my horror that I got through a whole blog without mentioning sport so that means a sport top five, I fancy giving footballers a go (I’m limiting myself to ones I’ve actually seen on TV).

  • Paul Scholes
  • Lionel Messi
  • Xavi
  • Maradona
  • Eric Cantona

I’m expecting a deluge of abuse from Tottenham supporting chums, I just want to say sorry in advance for not including Darren Bent!

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Psssst, don’t tell the Yanks anything and did Russian agents kill Paul the Octopus?

The most over used word in business is transparency.  The moment someone glibly throws it into to a conversation I can’t help but think they are hiding something.  The US government in particular has rightly been very forthright in promoting transparency in business and pursues a very aggressive anti-corruption policy. With this in mind it seems a bit odd to me when Hilary of Clinton fame complains bitterly about WikiLeaks.  There has been lots and lots of juicy stuff in The Guardian (one of five publications worldwide WikiLeaks sent the transcripts to).  If you fancy doing  a bit of snooping click on the link below and all will be revealed.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks

Given the US’s determination to throw the declaration of independence at the Asperger-suffering British man, Gary McKinnon, who hacked into the Pentagon to look for UFO sightings, I’m surprised they have been furiously attacking WikiLeaks’s server and trying to drive it offline.  One of my favourite leaks was the Burmese military junta thinking of putting in a bid to buy Man U prior to launching their world cup hosting bid (surprisingly the world cup has never been to Burma).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/06/wikileaks-burma-manchester-united-takeover

Did Putin have it in for Paul?

As regular readers will appreciate I can’t help but drift towards the sporting angle whenever I read a grown-up story.  It might be a wee bit tenuous but the leaks relating to Russia were particularly interesting.  To the surprise of nobody it transpires that Russia is a Mafioso state controlled by gangsters who are in collusion with key government figures, in other words Russia is rotten to the core.  Given this I loved what Putin had to say about Russia winning the right to host the World Cup in 2018.

Arriving in Zurich on Thursday night to meet with Sepp Blatter, Putin accused the British media of running an “unacceptable” campaign.

“These countries blame people of corruption, they blame people without any grounds or evidence, it can be seen as putting pressure on FIFA members, and then they put it in their mass media all over the world.”

One key thing every commentator I’ve read has missed is the previously flawless Paul the Octopus had England down to win the big vote.  This leads me to think that Russian agents were sent to take out Paul and thereby remove his influence.

World Cup voting

Blatter and Hitler, a marriage made in hell

Nobody I know thinks that FIFA is anything but a personal plaything for Sepp Blatter and his serial bung-taker chums.  Sepp Blatter congratulated Hitler in a speech praising the Austrian for trying something new.   The choice of Russia and the resounding success of Qatar, the two bids with the largest budgets and the lowest marks in FIFA’s technical assessment, also brought questions over the decision.  We need to get used to the fact that Blatter has a personal legacy ‘take it somewhere new’ agenda – the only country to win against his agenda was surprise, surprise, Germany.

One thing I found very odd was two people who voted for Holland in round one and then voted for someone else in round two.  Six years to decide but just 10 mins to tactically change their mind once England had been eliminated.  Name and shame!

I can however understand Russia winning (graphically showing the imbalance between east and western Europe when it comes to staging World Cups (0 – 10) scrapping visas for fans and free public transport during the tournament were the icing) however I’m staggered that Qatar won until I noticed the favourite to succeed Blatter is a Qatari, take a big bow Mohammed Bin Hammam, the FIFA executive member and president of the Asia Football Confederation.

My good friend Micky Brigg mentioned that it will only take one hour to travel between the two furthest apart stadiums . . . at a slow amble!  Here is an artist’s impression of one of their showcase stadiums which they planning to pack up afterwards and ship to Africa.

Doha port

A case of mistaken identity

I could go on forever about the World Cup but I’ve got to move on.  Here is a ‘must-watch’ video, it made me cry with laughter.  Some dude turned up at the BBC for an interview, got mistaken for technology expert and ended up being interviewed live on national TV.  His face when he’s introduced is a picture.

Win 1,000,000 Air Miles and party

And here is a competition that you really can win (assuming I don’t win it). 1,000,000 Air Miles which will get you to the next half a dozen World Cups (unlike Skywards points Air Miles never expire).

www.timeoutdubai.com/competitions/details.php?id=4126

Watch out, watch out there is a sharkie about

As news broke about sharks eating people in Sharm El Shiekh apparently 28 million people in the UK have been injured by biscuits.  Here is a breakdown of the injuries caused by our crumbly friends.

Injuries by biscuits

Top 5

Back to the serious stuff, here are my predictions for hosting the next five World Cups after Qatar:

  • Columbia
  • China
  • Austria/Switzerland
  • Iran
  • India

Sound about right?  Let me know in the comments.

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Did Paul see the end in sight?

Paul the octopus

No sooner had I posted my last blog than news filtered through that Paul the Octopus had died ‘peacefully in his sleep’. I really don’t understand how his handlers thought we would fall for the in his sleep explanation when there were so many people in Argentina and Germany who wanted him dead.  He was only spared the wrath of Tony from Tunbridge by the hastily pushed through press release that Paul was born and bred in England.  My own theory is the Germans were worried about adverse publicity if Paul passed away too close to the World Cup and hatched a plan to poison him slowly and surely.

Politicians are like molluscs

While still on the subject of wildlife here is one of my favourite recent quotes “This is a short-sighted, unimaginative and short-term government with the vision of a bat and the antennae of a mollusc.” David Blunkett.  The Tories got a big shock this week when their plan to make the poor even poorer backfired badly.  Unfortunately for them the UK economy grew in the last quarter by double what was anticipated.  They were very quick to take the credit for this growth however they are saying it will take the lifetime of this parliament for all of the other good work they are doing to double the unemployment rate.

How corrupt are you?

While we Brits are good at messing up our economy we’re rubbish when it comes to corruption.  This inter-active guide to corruption  allows you to see how countries compare when it comes to insider dealing.  New Zealand and the Scandahooligans don’t do corruption very well either but the good news is all of our of hard work in Iraq has paid off.  According to the index Iraq is now the most corrupt country in the world, well done George and Tony.

Winning while sleeping

In Spain they are more worried about the tradition of the siesta after lunch dying out than corruption.  The Spanish still think it’s a great idea and to promote the art of cat napping they recently held a contest to find the best of the best.  It was won by an Ecuadorean who managed to fall asleep in the middle of a shopping mall and earned bonus points for snoring loudly.

Well-endowed at a price

Moving swiftly on I was intrigued by the story that a top athlete has fallen foul of the anti-doping regulations for taking a male enhancement drug.  Linford Christie’s world famous lunch box immediately sprang to mind.  I guess if you are going to wear figure hugging shorts you want to improve your prospects by putting your best bits forward.

Rooney humour

I’m not sure if any of you read the Daily Mash but their take on the news is much funnier than mine.  I loved their story on Wayne Rooney’s new million pound a week contract, it’s very rude but beautifully observed.  By the way the conspiracy theory here is Man U have got Wayne to sign a contract to maximise his value when they sell him to Man City next summer.  Man City are in the market to replace Carlos Tevez who wants to go home, apparently Carlos doesn’t speak English which makes you wonder why Roberto Mancini made him captain.  Not a problem at Arsenal obviously but City have got quite a few Englishman playing for them.

Saudis in their Audis

I’ve also talked about viral a lot recently – it’s the holy grail for ad agencies to come up with something so good that everyone comes to you rather than you having to invade their territory.  Here is a rather bizarre one, the fat fellah says nowt all the way through.  Take a look, you will definitely chuckle at Saudis in our Audis.

Raising the viral bar very high are this amazing group, OK GO, who promote themselves entirely through brilliant videos that are watched by zillions on You Tube – here are a couple.

Apples are not the only fruit

Interesting observation, I read this headline and it made absolute sense; Apple record record profits.  My brain automatically translated the two meanings of record at which point I came to the conclusion that brains are very clever.  More brainy stuff, try this experiment at home; ask a willing accomplice to hold their hand flat palm up and place a bottle of water on their hand.  If you take the bottle away their hand will rise a few inches, if they take it away themselves their hand will remain rock steady.  Something to do with the brain sending messages to your extremities.

Finally on the subject of brains, kids are much cleverer than adults.  This was once again proven to me by the fact that everyone under 20 has a BlackBerry on the simple basis that they don’t do e-mails, texting or phone calls anymore.  Instead they stay in constant contact with all of their friends through BBM and Facebook which they can have unlimited usage of for AED 50 a month.  Bingo!

I’ve decided I really don’t like Apple on the simple premise that everything they make costs twice as much if you live outside the good old US of A.  I’m annoyed that Apple are making record profits by over charging Johnny foreigner.

Top five things that upset me:

  • Not being invited
  • HSBC
  • Slippers
  • Banker’s bonuses
  • Footballers diving

Having got that off my chest a happy story to end – see what happened when a crocodile grabbed a baby elephant by its trunk and the big boys came storming to the rescue.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/oct/28/elephant-crocodile-kruger-south-africa#/?picture=368140666&index=0

Everybody say ahhh – or whatever else you want to get off your chest in the comments box.

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Boom, boom, shake the room

Last week I happened across a very upbeat article in Arabian Business quoting Sheikh Maktoum who is predicting a boom within the next two years.  This is great news and fits in very neatly with my observation that there has been a bit more traffic on the roads since the Ramadan Eid holiday weekend. For an article full of cheerfulness click on the link below:

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/597629-boom-coming-in-next-two-years–sheikh-maktoum

The prediction game is a lot of fun.  The basic principle is to make as many as possible and then if one should happen to come true you can climb a rooftop and shout out loud.  For example, my prediction made before the World Cup started was that Spain would be crowned champions, bang on.  On Saturday my chum Paddy McGrath predicted that Darren Bent would be the leading scorer in the Premiership this season (or words to that effect) which will come as a huge surprise to ’arry Rednapp who reckons his mum has more chance.

Even if a prediction goes wrong you can always apply a bit of computer wizardry to change the course of history.  Being in advertising I’m aware that some of our competitors are a little heavy-handed when it comes to PhotoShop.  Nothing however compares with how an Egyptian newspaper manipulated an image to elevate their leader to first among equals.

http://www.dailybloggr.com/2010/09/photoshop-fail-newspaper-crops-out-obama-behind-other-leaders/

I’m guessing the Pope, who turned out to be more akin to a loveable granddad rather than an ex-member of the Hitler youth on his recent trip to England, would love to airbrush history here and there.  He could start with priests behaving badly and then move back in time to address the exploits of Thomas More.  More was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1886 and canonised, with John Fisher, in 1935. In 1980, he was added to the Church of England’s calendar of saints.  Unfortunately More comes with a bit of form which causes you to think he fell a bit short in the saintly stakes.  During More’s Chancellorship, the secret Inquisition he developed gained substantial power. In total, there were at least six heretics burned at the stake during More’s Chancellorship: Thomas Hitton, Thomas Bilney, Richard Bayfield, John Tewkesbery, Thomas Dusgate, and James Bainham but in contrast during the previous one hundred years a total of only thirty persons were burned for all categories of crimes.

I’m currently reading a brilliant book by David Mitchell (the author not the comedian) called The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.  Set at a turning point in history on a tiny island attached to mainland Japan, David Mitchell’s tale of power, passion and integrity is an extraordinary feat of story-telling. Mr Mitchell is a genius for historical detail, I kept asking myself how he could possibly know the many layers of Japanese culture and customs from over 200 years ago.  It could only be by an enormous amount of research or he is applying my long-held theory that if you say something with enough conviction people will believe you.  This worked brilliantly until Google and Wiki came along (WIKI = What I Know Is – thank you David F for that little gem but apparently the acronym emerged much later than the website name).

My restored enthusiasm for book reading has been partly triggered by Showtime’s loss of the Premier League.  My only real interest in watching TV is sport or anything that involves a competition like, for example, the Great British Bake Off – I had zero interest in the subject matter (baking) apart from when the contestants made Cornish Pasties but the winning and losing makes for compulsive viewing.   Etisalat is advertising the socks off eLife which includes a free subscription to the footie however the catch is only about .00005% of villas in Dubai have the fibre optic connection required to benefit from eLife.  It’s all very frustrating especially that your connection speed with eLife is about 1,000 times faster than with Al Shamil broadband and it costs about 1,000 times less!  My wife has been Twittering away about eLife and the nice people at Etisalat responded but twittered on about copper and then faded away.

One of competition shows I watched when I was in England was This Is The Music on Sky TV.   Some great bands emerged none more so than Finding Andy, Cameron Bellman’s new favourite band – check out the video:

While I’m on the subject here are my Top 5 winner and losers shows:

  • Dragon’s Den
  • Masterchef
  • The Apprentice
  • Over the Rainbow
  • Jeux Sans Frontiers

Have I missed out your favourite? Share your thoughts on this or anything else in the comments section.

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Open blog to BP – I’m available!

If you run a small or medium size business you work jolly hard, hope everyone pays you (they’re big, you’re little) and obsess about cash flow.  By contrast should you be lucky enough to be selected as the CEO for a big corporation happy, happy days.  Brilliant or hopeless you always end up the winner even if you spread a liberal helping of unhappiness along the way.  Here is what I mean.  BP has confirmed that Tony Hayward is leaving with a £1m payoff and a pension, expected to be about half a million pounds a year, as the oil giant reported one of the largest corporate losses in British history due to the cost of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Tony has halved the value of BP together with over-seeing the death of 11 platform workers and devastating the economy and ecology of several American states.  If/when BP is found guilty of gross negligence should he a) collect £500,000 every time he passes go or b) go to prison and have his get out of jail free cards confiscated?

My chum Paddy likes to use this blog to keep up with news on the poor lady in Iran.  Her sentence has been commuted from stoning to hanging, OMG, and her lawyer is in hiding.  This week, Iran issued an arrest warrant for Mohammad Mostafaei, the lawyer who volunteered to represent Mohammadi Ashtiani. Mostafaei has gone into hiding, but Iran has taken his relatives hostage to force him to reappear.

To offset starting my blog on a downbeat note it’s time to lift the spirits with this bit of brilliance from Newport, West Wales.  Don’t miss out, click on the link and be prepared to chuckle lots.  Love the bit about Alicia Keys and Shirley Bassey and ‘One hand in the air for the taxi’, not sure why.

If you have got the taste for a bit of Shirley here she is with Dizzee Rascal, amazing (it starts with Gary Barlow, scroll to around 4 minutes for Dizzee).

At the risk of offending young Susan Probert (an ATOM teamster) who told me blogs with football are boring, I just have to direct you to this clip of an amazing penalty scored by a Spanish youngster in Under 6 World Cup.  Unbelievable and proof that the Spanish are going to be a world force for many years to come.  Compare and contrast with the second clip featuring a Brazilian trying what they used to be good at before they started playing like England.

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/article/20349/

For picture of the week, here is Torres when he was good and then after he got a touch of the Samson’s.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres

Sticking with sport for just one second, news came this week that boules is now officially über cool (click on this link to find out more http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/28/france-boules-petanques-got-cool).  I can relate to that, it’s a brilliant game.  What about getting the local authorities in Dubai to set up a few courts?  If any of you have ever been down near the kite surfing beach there are a series of excellent volleyball and football courts/pitches which are free to use and apparently you can also borrow kayaks for free.  It’s always easy to criticise and moan but hats off for the many great things the Dubai government has done to make this a pretty damn good city with a world-class infra-structure.

Last week I went to see Toy Story 3, apart from a having a three-month old baby as my next door neighbour (fortunately after a five-minute chunter he fell asleep) it was brilliant.  So clever and witty and beautifully observed.  The following night saw a trip to my favourite restaurant, Asha’s, AED 200 each for great food and several drinks.  I gobbled up Laal Maas (a no sharing policy was strictly observed), very spicy and to say it hit the spot doesn’t do it justice.

I also made my second visit to Spinneys this summer.  How do they sell cooked chickens for less than AED 10?   Are they really curtailed chickens or fat rats?

For my top 5s this week it’s back to Dame Shirley and top 5 classic hits by divas (I did the first two, Sally had to step in to do the rest) Note from Sally: This is top 6 as I don’t agree with Downtown!:

  • Shirley Bassey; Diamonds are forever
  • Petula Clarke; Downtown
  • Aretha Franklin; Respect
  • Diana Ross; Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
  • Madonna; Like A Prayer
  • Barbara Streisand; Woman in Love

Finally tip of the week, you can download the brilliant new Arcade Fire album on Amazon UK for around £3.99 on Monday 2nd August (one day only).

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Time to go liberal

Charity begins at home is an odd saying.  With Foresight having achieved their goals we were delighted when two other charities approached us to help.  This year we supported The Invitational hosted by Abdullah Al Naboodah. Thanks to Abdullah’s generosity and the sponsors, over AED 1 million was raised for international and local charities like the Dubai Autism Centre with their inspirational leader, Sara Baker. We also helped with a publicising a polo match where the funds raised went to the Dhaka slum project.

Children holding up letters to make the name Keith Prosser

Thanks from the Dhaka Project

The pic should have said ATOM, sorry for taking the credit, but it was a fantastic gesture.

I’m very mindful that combining food and top 5s make for a good blog but apart from saying I hope all of you who tried my recipe enjoyed it as much as I did last night, I have a craving to reflect on the latest stage of the British election.  I watched the final debate into the early hours waiting for Cameron to answer the one question Brown kept asking him over and over again.  At one point I had to create an object free zone to remove the temptation of throwing one of the dog’s toys at Cameron’s squeaky clean face.  It will be interesting to see the aging process kick in from the day he becomes PM.  Anyway back to the question, Cameron is proposing to cut the inheritance tax rate for the richest 3,000 people in Britain.  Apart from this being stupid economics it’s not fair to the millions of ordinary tax payers who had to bail out the banks last year and will be facing a very tough time as Europe totters under the weight of debt.  Fasten your seatbelts we are in for big brother version of the Lehman Brothers induced financial crisis especially if Germany dithers for much longer.

Gordy, Nick and Cameron told a big black lie throughout the debate.  All three of them stood there and spoke about cutting spending, raising taxes and growing the economy.  Sorry guys it’s very basic economics, you can’t cut and grow at the same time.  One may follow the other, a bit like my tomato plants, cut back to grow big, juicy red ones, but it never happens if you cut off the wrong bit.

Cameron’s strategy has been to get everyone to like him (a la Tory Blair) and unfortunately he’s going to become the most hated man in Britain.  Consider yesterday’s leaked warning from the Bank of England governor: Mervyn King is now reportedly telling City analysts that whoever wins next Thursday’s election will have to unleash a scorched-earth policy of tax rises and spending cuts that they will be out of power for a generation.

That’s it on the ranting! If you are interested in a great editorial of why the Liberal Democrats should win click on the link below:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/30/the-liberal-moment-has-come

Turning swiftly back to food, I spotted an article in the Guardian about how to create the best roast chicken; crispy skin, tender and juicy flesh. It was pretty dull stuff but as always there was light relief in the readers’ comments. There was lots of earnest stuff and then this gem; All of you make the fundamental mistake of using a cooker. The best and without doubt, most fun way to roast a chicken is on the barbie with a beer can shoved up its rear.

My dear wife Sally is off on her charity fund-raising trek around the mountains of Lebanon next week and the good news is my first food parcel has arrived – Wasia’s much awarded courgette and tomato vegetable curry. Four healthy portions, together with the fish fingers I sneaked into the freezer when Sally wasn’t looking, has me covered for three days. Further contributions very welcome, you will get a very nice plug on my blog. Also if anyone would like to Florence to guitar practise next Friday please let me know. One last comment on food and don’t forget to spread the word, below is a link to the list of fish that are under threat of over-fishing in the UAE and those that are ok to consume. Please check it out:

http://www.choosewisely.ae/index.php

Some of the very best comment comes from football fans and I have a great time once a week having a look at the posted comments below articles about transfer gossip.  This is what one fan said about the possibility of James Milner moving from Aston Villa to Manchester City.  Rumour has it Man City will offer Aston Villa 18mill + Stephen Ireland for Milner’s services. As a City man I would be reluctant to let Ireland leave, I would rather offer Villa 18 Mil plus Joleen Lescott to see Richard Dunne return, and if they accepted, I would carry Lescott to Birmingham on my back!

For all of you Liverpool supporters out there, there is hope. After almost going bust in 1987, Fulham’s low point, came in 1996 when second-bottom of the lowest tier of English league football. They played bottom club Torquay, and lost. Now they are in the final of a European competition.

Here are my close season football predictions. Tevez, Torres, Gerrard and Mourinho to Real Madrid and Hodgson to Liverpool.

Changing papers just to prove I am a perfectly balanced individual with an open mind I browsed through the Sun’s big brother last week and spotted a Rich List.  Let it serve to guide any young people reading my blog.

2010 Sunday Times Rich List; 17% made their fortunes in finance, 25% through property and 23% through inheritance.

If you want to get rich don’t buy anything in Dubai.  Following on from my iPad price check the Toshiba Satellite U500 is AED 3,000 in the US, AED 3,500 in the UK and AED 4,200 in Dubai!  Maybe we are paying for Toshiba’s Showtime sponsorship of the Premier League and the prices will go down next year when the footie moves to an online platform – a not very smart transfer given the streaming speeds are pedestrian and the cable keeps getting damaged.

Thanks for the contribution to the top 5 heavy metal songs, wise words all round. One to add if you want to go modern, try out Bullet for my Valentine. This week I’m having a crack at Prog Rock – let the arguments rage as to whether Muse and Radiohead are Prog.

  • Genesis; Supper’s Ready
  • King Crimson; 21st Century Schizoid Man
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer; Brand Salad Surgery
  • Muse; Nights of Cyndonia
  • Radiohead; Creep

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