Tag Archives: golf

Hot and bothered

It’s a bit on the toasty side to write a proper blog this week; sorry!  Brigglar hit a drive past me on Friday and I’ve been too ashamed to be seen in public since.  Fortunately the News of the World has been consigned to the dustbin of history (and hasn’t been re-cycled as The Sun on Sunday – – – yet!) so I won’t be named and shamed in front of scandal-seeking Brits with nothing to do at the weekend.

Five things to do when you are grumpy!

  • Clear the neighbourhood and put on Enter Shikari (Juggernauts) full blast, bounce up and down as the need arises
  • Watch the Sound of Music (sing along)
  • Bash a golf ball as hard as you can
  • Buy a treat – hope my wife doesn’t read this one!
  • Eat a very spicy curry (Vindaloo at Asha’s or give my new find a go – Aappa Kadai close to Dubai Marina metro station. No need to take your credit card – if you don’t over-order you are looking at AED 50 for two)

If all of this fails sit down and have a nice cup of tea!

One to watch

As recommended by Camlar of “Micky has never got within a hundred yards of my drives” fame, give Chase the Enemy a watch and look out for cousin of Cam on rhythm guitar (Tom Bellman).  I always wanted to be the singer (and lead guitarist) in a rock and roll band so good on them and best of luck.

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I’m a gay woman masquerading as an ad man!

Last week I was pondering how to increase my readership so I had a quick look around the blogs of other people who work in advertising. Lots of smart observation but it all centred on the latest thing in the world of Google or Apple or Facebook and pretty soon I was snoring. Then I came across the story of the leading lesbian blogger who this week was exposed as a man pretending to be a gay woman: Gay Girl in Damascus blog was revealed to be the fictional creation of a married male student from Edinburgh.

The day after came news that Paula Brooks, who claimed to be the executive editor of a US-based lesbian site LezGetReal.com, that “she”, too, was a man – in this case, a 58-year-old retired construction worker from Ohio called Bill Graber.

Before starting the Gay Girl in Damascus blog in February, Tom MacMaster, the Edinburgh student masquerading as Amina Abdullah Araf al Omari, had written posts on LezGetReal.com.

Now the point of this story is that loads of people visited their blogs and while I have top quality visitors, there are not very many of them.  Which leads me to conclude that I need to give the masses what they want, what they really, really want.

My mate Rory (see pic below for just how close we are)!

I have to admit that I watched the last round from behind the sofa but I really shouldn’t have worried, the boy Rory is pure class. He ruthlessly destroyed the field and dispelled forever the theories of those people who thought he was a choker.

I loved this bit of fan worship from a top American golfer who simply tipped his cap and acknowledged greatness. In Brandt Snedeker’s words after the second round:

“It’s great to see him do that, especially on the heels of the Masters. I hope he can keep it going for the weekend. As a fan of golf I’d love to see him win this week. As a competitor I’d love to see myself win. We’ll see how it goes.”

My advice to Rory: never change your club manufacturer, never change your swing, never change your attitude (or as Darren Clarke said, Rory is a please and thank you person).

I was also mightily impressed with Japanese golfer Ryo Ishikawa who is donating his tournament earnings from 2011 to the victims of the tsunami that recently devastated the country. Ishikawa, 19, will also give $1,200 for every birdie he achieves during the year.

Keith, ATOM and Rory

Speculative bubble or sound investment?

I’ve got lots of friends who are absolutely brilliant at buying at the bottom and selling just before the market disappears over the precipice. I’ve always wondered how they do it and as I sat down today to ponder the release of 2010 Bordeaux wines en primeur the answer suddenly came to me. They wait to see what I do and then do the exact opposite. My track record is appalling. I do my homework and take a very cautious attitude on the way up and then just as we approach the tipping point I pile in! This year’s en primeur release  is widely acknowledged as being of outstanding quality and there has been an explosion in the Far East market as rich Chinese buyers snap up wines from the best estates.

For anyone who has got any money here are my tips for the top and don’t forget if all goes wrong you can always drink it (slowly!):

Lafite (first growth, £1,000+ a bottle expensive)

Mouton Rothschild (first growth, not quite Lafite but you’ll have to empty your coin bottle to buy a cork)

La Fleur Petrus (way up on last year’s release prize but still shooting out of the door)

Grand Puy Lacoste (more affordable and highly rated)

Beycheville (again in the sort of affordable bracket and the Chinese love the ‘dragon’ boat label)

Pontet Canet (big wow with the critics)

If you are interested MMI get a very good allocation of en primeur wines through their association with Emirates Airline.  You can view the wines and make up a wish list through Le Clos.

I’ve got a few contacts on the inside so if you would prefer to speak to someone please let me know and I’ll sort it.

Olympic, 2.3 million tickets left . . . for the football

Two-thirds of applicants for London 2012 tickets have been left empty-handed in the face of huge demand. A total of 21 events have sold out altogether, with only limited availability for others.

Around 1.7m of the remaining 2.3m tickets are for the football tournament, which is taking place at large stadiums around the country. Of the 600,000 remaining for other events, the next most are for (not on the beach) volleyball and hockey.

Sarah Palin has been out righted

News broke last week that extreme right-winger, Michele Bachmann, is putting her name in the hat to be the next American President.  Like all self-centred fascists she is totally against all government subsidies however there is some nice dirt on her doing the rounds. The issue is the Bachmann family farm in Wisconsin. The large rural property has been the recipient of considerable government largesse in the form of agricultural subsidies, the farm has reaped the Bachmanns about $154,000 of government cash since 2001.

Michele Bachmann

Marketing tip number one, how to win friends and influence people

Respect to the shop in Dalma Mall in Abu Dhabi, who thought laterally, very laterally!

Shop front - Keep Out

Top 5 iPad2 apps

The iPad2 is a very serious bit of kit and I’m in the busy adding apps stage.  Here are my favourites so far:

  • News++: Flipboard – I don’t know exactly what it does but I can add and find all of my favourites here
  • Sport: R&A rules of golf – features a rules quiz that I’m rubbish at
  • Audio Visiual: TuneIn Radio – all of your favourite radio stations in the blink of an eye
  • Techie: Dropbox (a folder which you can add things to and access from any device)
  • Games: Space Invaders (Invaders HD) – oldie but goldie

Any tips of great apps which I can get hold of through the UAE iTunes store gratefully received.

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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.


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 spitting normal behaviour?

At ATOM we employ adults (young and a little bit older than young) and one of the unwritten conditions of accepting a job offer with us is abiding by a no spitting rule.  To be honest I’ve never actually mentioned this to anyone in an interview and so far in 10 years we’ve never had a spitting incident.  Given this I wasn’t surprised when the Desert Classic tournament director Mike Stewart ruled that Tiger spitting in front of all of his adoring fans breached the Tour’s code of conduct.  The next bit however was a bit bizarre: the Tour’s code of conduct states that when a player becomes a member, he “voluntarily submits himself to standards of behaviour and ethical conduct beyond those required of ordinary golfers and members of the public”.

As I wandered around the course on the Sunday I was privileged to watch Lee Westwood at play.  His attitude is totally professional and he’s the sort of guy that you know would be a good companion over a beer.  At one point Lee and Tiger crossed over, at that moment in time the  world number 1 was two ahead of the world number 3, a serial adulterer who doesn’t seem to like people watching him play.  And yet the crowds following Tiger were 10 times bigger than those with Lee; strange.

Does sponsorship work?

Big events attract big sponsors.  I’ve long argued that it’s really only worth sponsoring events if you are the title sponsor and it’s not so big that lots of clever agencies are going to come up with ideas to ambush your sponsorship. This is a good article on ambush marketing for any geeks out there.


For those less inclined to read, the following picture from Bike Week paints a thousand words and tells you everything you need to know about deciding whether to sponsor an event.

Sponsor board at Bike week

Watch out, watch out there’s product placement about

Still on the subject of marketing, one thing we have lived with for a long time is product placement in TV shows and films.  It can work really, really well, for example despite BMW’s recent attempts there is only one car that is forever associated with James Bond and the halo effect has enabled Aston Martin to top the aspirational brand list year after year.  The good people at Ofcom in the UK last week released the logo that broadcasters must show during UK-produced programmes containing product placement, together with rules on when it has to be shown.

product placement logo

I think a lot of viewers will be wondering why a parking sign keeps popping up during their favourite programmes.

Who is afraid of big bad Joe?

Shifting swiftly back to sport it was a good week for north London with West Ham winning the bid to play football in the Olympic stadium (which is located in deepest darkest East London) while Spurs stay where they are (White Hart Lane in North London!).  However the story that really captured my attention was the mad Italian head butting Joe Jordan.  Being more from a rugby background (although I do love football) I think of most footballers as namby pambies, Didier Drogba is my game set and match if anyone has the temerity to disagree with me.  There was a game the other day when he collapsed to the floor in agony which is normally the signal for someone to kick the ball out of play but in this instance everyone ignored him including his own teammates.  Joe Jordan was the exact opposite of Didier, a seriously scary man who I think even Martin Johnson would have had a bit of respect for.  Our ‘arry thought the Italian maybe picked on the wrong person.

Oh and the other amazing thing about last week was seeing not one, but two Englishmen playing for the Arse(nal), good on you Arse(ne).

Harry Redknapp and Joe Jordan

Times they have a changed (big time)

The next article is going in unabridged and without comment.

Education article

Jazzing it up

I went to the Mica Paris, Alison Moyet, Jools Holland night of the Dubai jazz festival.  I’m not really into this sort of stuff but Jools Holland was awesome and provided the musical highlight of the evening when he teamed up with reggae legend Rico Rodriguez who delivered a ska version of What a Wonderful World in a Kingston Jamaica accent.

I’m flushed with success from hearing that some of my music recommendations have translated into purchases.  Apparently Gerry Rafferty used to make £80,000 a year from royalties each year on Baker Street, so my more contemporary recommendations must amount to something (record companies are you reading?).  This week I’m going for something entirely appropriate, British Sea Power with Remember Me.  This is an old one, their new album is brilliant, definitely their best.

Also worth noting for any navel gazers out there that Radiohead have a new album out which they forgot to publicise (clever tactic me thinks).  Below is the link if you are thinking of buying a copy.


Bob Knott RIP

Finally some sad news, one of my very special Saturday golf group passed away last week at an absurdly young age.  As a former England golf international Bob Knott was a seriously good golfer with an incredible competitive spirit.  Bob will be sadly missed.

Bob Knott with Lee Westwood

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My top picks of 2010

Having been pretty good at posting a blog every week through 2010, the one that I’ve been looking forward to most is selecting my top picks of the year.  Only time will tell if this has been a vintage year but there have been a few gems along the way.

Best sporting memory

Retaining the Ashes

Honourable mentions: Winning the Ryder Cup, Dick Purchase getting a hole in one on the Majlis and then treating me to a gourmet brunch, me getting to play with Thongchai Jaidee in The Invitational, me (again) going around the Majlis in gross 70, Graeme McDowell winning the US Open.

The Ashes celebration and the Ryder Cup 2010

Best album

The National; High Violet

Honourable mentions; Arcade Fire, The Klaxons and Foals

The National - High Violet

Best book

David Mitchell – The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Honourable mention; Peter Carey – Parrot and Olivier in America

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Best concert

Joint winners; Florence Prosser singing Fly me to the moon and Beatrice Prosser’s performance playing an impossibly difficult piece on the clarinet by Finzi in the Dubai College house music competition, junior section (she won!)

Best films

Inception (three watches, still no clue what happened)

Honourable mentions; Toy Story 3 and True Grit (Coen Brothers, I haven’t seen it yet but it’s bound to be brilliant), I’m also looking forward to seeing Burlesque.


Best (biggest) porkie

Nick Clegg’s pledge to abolish tuition fees

Nick Clegg

Best man of the year

Mark Zuckerburg

Best woman of the year

Sally Prosser (again!)

Honourable mentions; Florence and Beatrice Prosser

Best restaurant

Asha’s (again)Asha's logo

Best take-away

Naked Pizza and Wild Peeta (haven’t tried them yet but liking the names)

Honourable mention; Brick Lane

Best meal at home

Sally Prosser’s meatballs

Honourable mention; Egg and lemon soup cooked by me!


Best golf course

Yas Links

Honourable mentions; Majlis, Saadiyat

These are my top picks for 2010; what made 2010 memorable for you?

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Hats off to Louis and Charlie

Pride of place this week goes to Louis Oosthuizen.  You could tell from his general demeanour what a nice, grounded individual he is from the way he strolled around St Andrews beating the pants off grumpy Tiger and his pals.  If you are wondering what he did with all of his money, he went out and bought a tractor!  Then he honoured a prior commitment to play in the Scandinavian Open rather than cry off on the grounds of being too important.  McDowell who won the American Open last year is in the same league, he spent the month after his victory drinking Guinness out of the trophy.  It’s brilliant to see a big bucket load of talent and humility being handed out to the good guys for a change.

Moving to a true sporting legend that I have long admired, Muttiah Muralitharan has sadly retired but not without achieving another milestone.  800 wickets is phenomenal especially that Murali overcame a disability to become one of the greatest bowlers (if not the best) who ever lived.  Every era throws up sporting heroes and while it’s sad to see them retire it leaves the stage open for new heroes to emerge.  Could it be the newly arrived Charlie Thomas Bellman who popped out last Wednesday measuring an impressive 50+cm.  Rumour has it that ’arry Rednapp is already eyeing him for a place up front as target man alongside Defoe.  Well done Mum and Dad (Sarah and Cam) and make sure young Charlie is fit and ready for the new season (if you are still wondering how to get coverage of the Premier League, click on this link and all will be revealed http://admcsport.com/en/ – it will be available on satellite, cable (Du and eVision) and online).

Sad breaking news, Hurricane Higgins died on Saturday (RIP) after a long battle against throat cancer which he blamed on smoking sponsors’ products (yes really, cigarette companies did used to sponsor sporting events).  I was never into snooker but Hurricane was one of a kind and lit up a very dull sport.  Click on the link to read one of the many obituaries –  http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/other_sports/snooker/8852020.stm

I hear lots of people moaning about the quality of advertising in the UAE/region and whenever I listen to the radio I find it hard not to agree with the moaners.  The classic radio dialogue formula is sometimes funny but for all the wrong reasons.  The American-accented Lebanese Mum with the English Dad and Indian kids is always good for a chuckle.  Traffic jam reports for ads promoting a sale are another of my favourites.  Brilliant advertising is observational and builds on shared experiences and popular culture.  While this is a wonderfully integrated community there are still huge differences in our growing up experiences.  Below is a classic example, I laughed, whereas my Arab and Indian friends were left looking bemused and a bit offended.

Bend over and think of England

The ad was critiqued in Brand Republic and this perfectly demonstrates how even in England some people just don’t get it (although I suspect the comment was a joke): The message is one we are all familiar with, 2 obvious questions arise: 1) If the campaign is encouraging people to be conscientious and pick up their own litter, why would these same people have dropped it in the first place seemingly moment earlier? 2) Why is this campaign encouraging people to bend over in a way that can cause lower back injury? It’s common knowledge that one should bend from the knees and keep a straight back.

For all of you, in the UAE, looking to dodge the ads on commercial radio, World Service has moved to 90.30.  It’s being broadcast out of Abu Dhabi so the signal is patchy but given the quality of the programming it’s worth persevering with.

Another subject that caught my eye this week is worries about a double dip recession.  The commentators predicting a double dip obviously don’t have a clue what they are talking about, you need a recovery to have a second dip.  There is no way out of this until the government stimulate the economy (starting to pay off debts is a good start) or the Chinese arrive on mass.  My advice comes from re-watching the very excellent Rome series:

“Quidquid ages prudenter agas et respice finem” (whatever you do, do it with prudence, and consider the outcome).

The Chinese have certainly arrived in style on the wine investment market with 2009 En Primeur prices at world record levels.  Apparently they top up a glass of £1,000 a bottle wine with a bit of lemonade!  MMI has managed to snap up some top quality 2009 wines including the most sought after first growth – Lafite.  Hurry, hurry, hurry if you want some (get in touch with me and I’ll point you in the right direction and be prepared to forget my be prudent advice).

At the other end of the scale Bud is tax-free at MMI this week and I made some great discoveries during my annual visit to Spinneys.  Firstly, you can earn Air Miles there and secondly Del Monte has started producing fresh juice locally – AED 13 for 1lt of orange juice (bargain!).

Finally some wildlife stuff to uplift you, an amazing picture and link to more incredible scenes from nature: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/gallery/2010/jul/21/wildlife-photography-scott-linstead

Bee and flower

To end, it’s got to be the best 5 cricketers I’ve seen play:

  • Muttiah Muralitharan
  • Ian Botham
  • Shane Warne
  • Michael Holding
  • Viv Richards

There is loads of controversy in my choices – I could have picked 100.  Any objections please pitch in with a comment.

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