Tag Archives: World Cup

Paul puts parrots on employment scrapheap

A horribly fluey thing attacked me last week but I battled through!  It was a real shame that Holland tried to kick their way to the World Cup and then had the bad grace to blame the referee.  In truth they could have been down to nine men at half time and that would have ruined it for everyone watching around the world.  One thing they chose to blame was the referee giving a goal kick instead of a corner which resulted half an hour later in a goal.  Clutching at straws springs to mind.   Had to laugh though at a holier than thou Graham Souness laying into the Dutch for foul play and the ref for letting them get away with it; for those that saw Souness play, the pot has called the kettle black.

Like Paul the Octopus I predicted Spain to win the World Cup.  Unfortunately Paul’s success has put parrots throughout India out of work, Syed our cricket loving production guru sent me the attached cartoon.  If you want a parrot now is the time to buy.

Moving back to my story about the stoning sentence in Iran, Paddy McGrath has rightly chastised me for not updating you.  Apparently the sentence has been commuted but when this happens hanging sometimes replaces stoning as the method of execution.  For the full story click on the link below.  I wonder which option Tiger would have chosen, death by a thousand golf balls or a good thrashing from his wife?  For myself if ever I had to face the choice maybe I would go for the guillotine, it seems to have a bit of French romance about it.


While on the subject of women’s rights the Catholic church has shot itself in the foot once again.  In essence they have issued new rules on sex abuse and managed to slip in that ordaining women is on a par with paedophilia.  Shame on the Pope and all of the idiots who surround him.  As the proud dad of two lovely daughters it disgusts me that women are still treated by stupid men as second class citizens.  For the full story of Catholic perversion of human rights click on this story (let’s hope God has a fairer view of humanity and sends the Pope straight to hell without any bread and water/wine).



Best picture of the week has got to be this the death-defying stunt of Balancing artist Eskil Ronningsbakken.  I just went up the Burj Khalifia (fantastic experience, highly recommended) and that was pretty scary, but what this guy is up to beggars belief.  For more amazing pictures click on this link.


Two stories about advertising this week, the first is a great exchange between Ryan Air and Easyjet.  Michael O’Leary’s Ryan Air used advertising to accuse Stelios Haji-Ioannou of easyjet fame of lying, O’Leary’s claims were proved to be unfounded and Easyjet hit back.  View the ads and have a chuckle.

Michael O leary adRyan air ad

This week came news that BBH has resigned the Levis account after 28 years.  I love it when agencies resign big bits of business on a matter of principle even in these difficult times. BBH has been responsible for some truly brilliant advertising for Levis over the years including Laundrette and Drug Store.  Click here to view the show reel and prepare to be blown away by how brilliant advertising can influence the way you think and behave towards a brand.


Finally on the off-chance that anyone from HSBC is reading this, over a week ago I responded to your ads by applying for an Advance account and yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m still waiting to hear from you.  Lesson one, if you are going to spend money on advertising make sure you have your systems set up to meet the demand.  Otherwise Mr HSBC you are just wasting your money and you’ll end up blaming the ad agency, $250,000 campaign and no accounts, your fired!

Oh and finally, finally, MMI have some hum dinging offers on wines this month and Bud tax-free so get down to one of their shops and fill your boots.  Click here to find your nearest shop.


Went to play Yas Links at weekend and it’s forced me to change my top 5 golf courses:

  • Yas Links, Abu Dhabi
  • Kingsbarns, Scotland
  • Ballybunion, Ireland
  • St Enodoc, Cornwall
  • St Mellion, Devon

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Paul strikes again

Paul the octopus

Paul's (and my) prediction

Mr P is seriously good at this prediction game and we are now fishing for his thoughts on who will win the British Open.  Taking the lead from my blog entry before the World Cup started, he’s gone for Spain in the final.  Could I be the new Paul?

This has been a good week for news in the UAE.   HSBC’s regional chairman thinks sending debtors to jail is a great idea.  So if you owe HSBC money get the hell out of dodge town, judging by their usual response times you’ve got about a year’s head start before they notice.


While on the subject of HSBC they have an offer to upgrade to an Advance account which includes receiving 100,000 Air Miles.  The nice thing about Air Miles is that if you do use them for flights there are no restrictions and you can travel on the airline of your choice.  At this point I do have to declare a very vested interest, Air Miles is a client of ours and jolly nice people they are too.

More local news, the Sheikh Zayed Road stunt drivers were revealed as a police officer and government worker.  In a great example of punishment fitting the crime they were fined AED 1,000 for their antics.  This seems about right, a kiss equals three months in prison for offending local morality whereas driving like an idiot and endangering the lives of other road users is covered by a small fine.


Meanwhile the good people at the stats office have been having some fun cooking up the latest population numbers.  Once again the population of Dubai has grown despite all evidence to the contrary.  As you may recall from your English teacher at school, there are three types of lies – lies, damn lies and statistics (Benjamin Disraeli).


Even higher up the humour stakes this week were Gazza’s extraordinary offer to mediate in the Raoul Moat stand-off, there’s Geordie solidarity for you, and Joe Biden proving that Vice President’s are totally irrelevant.  When asked why America was exchanging 10 Russian spies for four American spies Mr Biden replied that the American ones are very good.  Well if they are so good how did they caught?

The Israelis take it even further and exchange half the population of Gazza for one soldier.  In welcoming Netanyahu to the White House has Obama conveniently forgotten the stealing of identities to murder a Palestinian in Dubai and the boarding of a ship in international waters?  I’m the elephant in the room.

I’ve hatched lots of plans this past week, notably to buy a big kite, start kettle bells and go to the Isle of Islay.  Having made up my mind to go to Islay I checked with my Scottish golfer friends how to get there and was met with blank faces.  For anyone that is interested you head towards Glasgow and turn sharp left.

On 6th July one of my client’s sent me an e-mail letting me know that today is the day that Marty McFly arrived in the future after hitting 88mph in a pimped out Delorean in 1985.

back to the future board

Before you get excited it was a hoax that stormed the internet (I fell for it and dug out my Back to the Future box set) once again proving the power of viral.  To offset my palpable disappointment I was rewarded with these gems



Having rambled enough it’s time for top 5s; this week I’ve settled for my five favourite footballers of this World Cup:

  • Xavi; Spain
  • Xabi Alonso; Spain
  • Iniesta; Spain
  • Mueller; Germany
  • Sneijder; Holland

If I don’t hear anything, I’ll assume you all agree with me (otherwise get busy with the comments box).

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Cheats do prosper

Despite England’s sharp exit I’m still fixated with the World Cup, sorry.  Now we know for sure the big man upstairs doesn’t care about football.  Suavez’s last-minute handball wasn’t punished and Uruguay are through to the semi-final.  Rugby has a penalty try for deliberate cheating, football has now lost all credibility.

hand ball

Cheating is rewarded and the football genius Maradona is still intensely proud of his hand of god.  Suavez is also very proud of his actions, this is what he had to say:

“The Hand of God now belongs to me. Mine is the real Hand Of God.  I made the best save of the tournament. Sometimes in training I play as a goalkeeper so it was worth it. There was no alternative but for me to do that and when they missed the penalty I thought ‘It is a miracle and we are alive in the tournament’.”  His punishment, a one match ban!


FIFA had their chance, they should have banned Maradona when he openly admitted he cheated and then we wouldn’t have been left with World Cup where cheats are treated as heroes.

footballers celebrating

I was very disappointed with Brazil.  They spent the whole of the match against Holland trying to stop Robben by foul means and completely forgot about Wesley Sneijder – my player of the tournament so far.  It was horrible to watch Brazil trying to kick their way to victory.

Meanwhile Capello keeps his £6 million a year job and vows to bring in new players.  Fabio, here is one for you – Adam Johnson.  I spotted him last year and he should have played a starring role in the World Cup.  Instead you picked his understudy at Man City, Sean Wright-Phillips and played Milner in the position he left behind two years ago.

Final word on football (until next week) can someone please explain to me why Chelsea let Joe Cole go and have since signed Yosi Benayoun?  One classy English player for an OK Israeli, a very strange decision which leads me to predict Chelsea won’t win anything next year and their sugar daddy is preparing to up sticks.

Changing subject completely, I was left cold and seriously angry by the decision of a court in Iran to sentence a 43-year-old mother of two to death by stoning.  The barbarity is beyond belief but other things struck me about this case.  Firstly there was zero evidence; Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in May 2006 of conducting an “illicit relationship outside marriage” on the basis of “judge’s knowledge” – a loophole that allows for subjective judicial rulings where no conclusive evidence is present.  Secondly, under Iranian sharia law, the sentenced individual is buried up to the neck (or to the waist in the case of men), and those attending the public execution are called upon to throw stones. If the convicted person manages to free themselves from the hole, the death sentence is commuted.  Treating women like tenth class citizens is one thing but oh my god.  Please click on the link below for the full article.


I sprang out of bed this morning and yet another thought popped into my head – if Britain’s green and pleasant land is warmed every year by the Gulf Stream are we going to get more than we bargained for this year?  As always I turned to Wiki for a better understanding of what could happen.

The Gulf Stream, together with its northern extension towards Europe, the North Atlantic Drift, is a powerful, warm, and swift Atlantic Ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico, exits through the Strait of Florida, and follows the eastern coastlines of the United States and Newfoundland before crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

I watched bits of the Glastonbury Festival, Muse were amazing (click on the link for a bit of shock and awe) and Stevie Wonder is a legend.  However Stevie you should really consign I just called to say I love you to the dustbin of history.  How could somebody so talented write such an awful song?

Also it’s worth checking out Gang of Four – they are back!  For those who don’t know them they are a Brit band from the 1980’s credited by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers as being the band that most influenced their music.


With Dubai clearing out for the summer, news is a bit sparse.  I’m going to dedicate the next few weeks to unearthing bargains.  For all of you golfers out there click on the link for summer rates.  Yas Links is highly recommended, it was designed by the same guy who created Kingsbarn, my favourite course in the whole wide world.


Another bargain – check out MMI’s summer wine offer in-store while it lasts.  Monster savings on some very drinkable wines.  Click on the link for store locations and if you want to avoid tax give Barracuda a swerve and head off to Al Hamra Cellar.


With my family off for the summer we had a bit of clear out.  These are my top 5 from when Florence and Beatrice were tots (they all escaped the clear out!).

  • Book: Jolly Pocket Postman
  • Film: Toy Story
  • Audio: Big Friendly Giant (BFG)
  • Clothing: Beatrice’s bee dress
  • Toy: Rocking donkey

Join in the banter and please leave your comments below.

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Cheats never prosper

I was almost too upset to post a blog this week but unlike the England defence I’ve fronted up.  That was actually a joke, I refuse to criticise the England team for throwing everyone forward in trying to grab an equalizer.  For memories of a happier moment at the World Cup watch The Guardian’s brilliant Lego inspired recreation of Jermain Defoe’s goal v the football might of Slovenia.

Watch the action here.

Of course Germany fully deserved their win but at what cost?  As a responsible parent I’m constantly stressing the importance of playing by the rules and maintaining a sense of fair play.  The German goalkeeper openly admitted he saw Lampard’s shot go over the line and his first thought was to try to con the referee and linesman by picking the ball up and firing it down field as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately FIFA’s inaction over the Thierry Henry handball goal sent out a clear signal that cheating is part and parcel of the game and the big fellah upstairs had to take over and send France home in disarray with their tails nowhere to be seen.  The same fate is about to befall Germany with Lionel Messi sticking a hat trick right up ‘em where the sun don’t shine!

Fortunately help is at hand courtesy of our long-standing client – Moorfields Eye Hospital.  Moorfields Dubai is a branch of the world-famous London Hospital which has been solving vision problems for over 200 years.  They have a really excellent facility here staffed by top-notch consultants and we think they are the best people to sort out the officiating mess at this year’s World Cup.

Moorfields advertisement

NB: The creative lot at ATOM produced this ad for a bit of fun and to raise the spirits after England’s sharp exit.

It was sad day for Dubai’s multitude of brilliant football watching venues that England has taken their leave.  I’m a sucker for live sport so I’ll continue watching (my earlier blog tipped Spain) but probably more at home than out and about.  Being at home I’ll be in position A to cheer Andy Murray to his first Grand Slam and see England white washing the Aussies at cricket (I never thought I would be able to say that!).

Staying in – Dubai Spectrum on One has just released a summer offer, 50% off food and beverages.  Now that is a good deal and a sign of things to come.  On a more depressing outlook, my bank insider has told me there may be big trouble ahead as banks finally accept that the big developers who they lent millions to will never be able to pay off their debts.  Ouch and ouch again.  Certainly the mood is sombre as 50% of office space is empty and a lot our near neighbours in Media City have moved out – you used to have to wait for up to four years to get your hands on an office in TECOM.  Anyone have a view on what the next year will bring?

Five dreadful decisions:

  • Lampard’s disallowed goal – World Cup 2010
  • John van de Velde – 18th at Carnoustie 1999 (needed a six to win, took a driver off the tee)
  • Buying a villa in Sports City (August 2006, still not built!)
  • Spinneys calling a meat filled pastry a Cornish Pasty (don’t be fooled – click here for what makes a proper job)
  • Banning vuvuzelas at Wimbledon (is the sound of players grunting better?)  Click here for a bit of vuvuzela therapy.

No regrets? Or fancy getting any bad decisions off your chest?


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Am I to blame?

I really didn’t think through the consequences of my actions, sorry BP. My friendly bit of American baiting has made Obama crazy mad with the Brits. To restore a bit of fair play let’s not forget Transocean, Cameron International, Halliburton Energy Services and we the people, for our insatiable demand for oil.

It’s difficult to know how this will all play out but I can imagine the city boys rubbing their hands with glee. As they bet furiously on BP’s share price the value of BP sinks ever lower and they become a take-over target. Imagine if the Chinese make the biggest bid, that would be a lot of fun for Obama and his new cheer leader, David Cameron.

What, you are probably wondering, has all of this got to do with the World Cup?

Robert Green that’s what. His spill just before half-time was catastrophic and I have to admit for about 30 seconds I felt very sorry for him. Then I remembered how much he is paid a week. As the ball trickled into the net I couldn’t help thinking of all of my Scottish friends leaping up and down with joy. Contrast this with the African approach where a whole continent is supporting each other. Come on you Scots, surely it’s better that we win the World Cup rather than Johnny foreigner.

Back to Green’s howler. As an experiment I took my 13-year-old, never played a game of football in her life, daughter into our garden this morning and rolled a football slowly towards her. She casually bent down, picked it up and nonchalantly chucked it back to me. The answer to England’s goalkeeping malaise is alive and well and living in a tidier- than- most teenager’s bedroom in Dubai!

Moving closer to home I have a small observation which has troubled me for many years. When you withdraw money from an HSBC ATM why doesn’t it give you the option of AED 500 and AED 1,000 on the first screen? Who wants to withdraw AED 600 or AED 1,300? Going to a second option and keying in the numbers is fiddly, time-consuming and a right pain in the butt for everyone waiting patiently behind.

However my prize for shocking customer service which has been the sole preserve of HSBC for longer than I care to remember has finally been handed over to a more deserving case. Step forward Etisalat/Evision for blitzing a very attractive World Cup offer while not taking into account that some people may actually want the service. Constantly busy phone lines and an e-mail response system which sends back the e-mail you send to them, make a great case study on how not to do it.

Further afield great news that Abby Sunderland has been rescued. Her poor parents are being heavily criticised for setting her adrift on a 40 foot boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Given the opportunity most parents of teenage children would do the same, but probably without the boat for company.

News also reached me that women are responsible for 70% of all shopping dollars spent (according to a Communicate report) I think our household skewed the numbers a bit but only on the basis that my wife, Sally, is much better at shopping than me. I head off on my bike for milk and return laden with everything from beetroot to toothpaste in a tin can.

To round off I’m really liking the new Klaxon single – listen to it here – and am especially looking forward to reading Roddy Doyle’s new book; The Dead Republic.

Top five for this week, has morphed into KP’s World Cup predictions;

  • Winners; England
  • Real Winners;Spain
  • Golden boot; Lionel Messi
  • Biggest shock; Brazil going out in QF
  • Smallest shock; Maradona self imploding

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Give back the Elgin Marbles!

A good American friend of mind came up with this gem on You Tube – I very much agree with the sentiment but it has come as a bit of a shock to discover that an American a) knows where Greece is b) objects to someone taking what is not theirs.  Mike Gerbich take a bow.

Having taken this opportunity to have a little dig at the reluctance of Americans to step outside their comfort zone I decided to go on a Google journey to uncover what percentage of Americans have a passport.  At the bottom end I found 10% being quoted while at the top end 30%.   I also found this sword crossing on a blog:

. . .  for the average American, traveling abroad is not nearly so feasible, economically or logically, and these are the people taking the brunt of the criticism. In an article written for the London Guardian, John Patterson claimed most Americans don’t go abroad because it’s a “drag”, because they’re “ridiculous, paranoid, pathetically insular and grotesquely self-pitying.” And just so we didn’t worry that any of this was hyperbolic, he explained that Americans “have no reason to hate or fear (foreigners), but they have given the rest of us a million reasons to hate and fear them.”

My main observation here is the mis-spelling of the word travelling and Microsoft’s determination to keep defaulting to American spelling.  Bill, it’s called English and that is a big clue.  If you want to switch to American spelling be my guest but leave English to the English, our bat our ball.  And while you are at it stop calling your baseball championship the World Series, it’s a little local affair on a par with Gaelic football or Aussie Rules but I don’t want to be accused of anti-Americanism here so I’ve deferred to Wikipedia on the issue.

Although the name “World series” might imply an international competition, no international federation has ever sanctioned the series as a world championship event. Nevertheless, as only a handful of countries have national baseball leagues and, historically, the best baseball players generally play for MLB teams, the winners of the World Series are sometimes informally referred to as “world champions” by fans, players, executives, and the media within the United States and Canada.

This gets me neatly onto my favourite subject, sport!  The World Cup is getting close and the omens are good for England.  We’ve just cleaned up at the World 20/20 cricket and have an outsider’s chance in the footie.  What’s interesting here is that the most rabid anti-immigration people ever will be cheering on an England team featuring a significant number of second generation immigrants and what’s even better is they are black.  My bet is the team that wins the World Cup will have to beat one minimum but possibly two teams on penalties.  In this respect Capello should have taken Graham Alexander who plays for Burnley and hasn’t missed a penalty ever.

I don’t want to get accused of being anti-American so here goes with my top five Americans of all time.

  • Martin Luther King
  • George Washington
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Tommie Smith
  • Mohammad Ali

And to show that Americans can do some things incredibly well, here is a pic to put a smile on your face.

dog on surf board

A dog competes during the 5th annual Loews Coronado bay resort surf dog competition in Imperial Beach, south of San Diego, California


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Breaking news: Germany help England win the World Cup

Wayne Rooney clutching his kneeFinally a World Cup where we are not going to lose on penalties to Germany.  Instead, in the guise of Bayern Munich, the Germans managed to conjure up a four week rest for our talisman and main hope of World Cup glory.  This is the picture of the moment when it all went just right; a fired up Wayne Rooney wearing the three lions on his chest will bring home the FIFA World Cup Trophy.

I was listening to BBC World Service the other day and was intrigued to hear what Billy Bragg had to say about Englishness.  He made the very good point that England is the only team going to the World Cup that doesn’t have its own Parliament or National Anthem.  If the National Front had their way they would have us believe that we can add Christmas to this list.  These revelations occurred on or about the same time that the stand-up comedian Michael McIntyre pointed out that the Scots have a habit of taking things that don’t belong to them and appropriating them.  An example, the Scots took the tried and trusted boiled egg and turned it into a Scotch egg through the simple expedient of adding a few breadcrumbs.  Watch him on You Tube giving lots more examples, hysterical.

Turning from sport, which favourite confectionery maker is destroying rainforests in their never ending quest for palm oil?  Greenpeace are running banner ads all over the internet to make sure we don’t miss this one.  Step forward Nestle and take a bow.  You talk about corporate responsibility on your website but the truth is your business is driven by the never ending quest for increasing shareholder value and the directors getting a nice bonus at the end of the year.  Please go and stand in the corner with all of your corporate banker mates.

Greenpeace banner on the Guardian website

Talking of the internet, for all of you in the UAE who have experienced problems with uploading pages in recent weeks, Etisalat has announced there is absolutely no problem.  Last time they absolved themselves of all responsibility it ended in a very public spat with BlackBerry and this latest aberration is creating a bit of a stir in the comments section of Arabian Business.  Feel free to join in by clicking this link.

It’s amazing when you start writing how everything links together.  BlackBerry popped up in the paragraph above and this gives me the perfect opportunity to mention a very interesting article I read on the fading popularity of BlackBerry.  In essence everyone still accepts it’s a great business tool but they want more, more, more from their mobile device.  ‘Hats off’ to Steve Jobs and his merry men for creating the iPhone and then handing it over to the millions of Apple disciples to create ever more brilliant applications. Genius.  I love my BlackBerry and as someone who lives the brand dream each and every day it takes a lot to shift my behaviour but the first seeds of doubt have been sown.  Could there be a Heinz Baked Beanz to Branston Baked Beans moment just around the corner?  On the subject of Branston one of the worst days in my life was when they dropped spicy Branston Pickle.  Guys, big, big mistake; since the British invented curry the whole world is going spicier – you should not be heading down the milder route.

I started with sport so I’m going to finish with sport.  News broke last week that David Sullivan, the chairman of West Ham, made a flying visit to Dubai to seek out investors.  Doesn’t he read the British papers, we’re flat broke and if he snogs some unsuspecting women he’s off to jail with no sign of the keys.

Returning to the World Cup I went to a celebrity packed leaving do yesterday and here is the legendary Paul ‘Nudger’ Thornberry’s ‘top five footballers that ever lived’ list:

  • George Best
  • Eric Cantona
  • Jim Baxter
  • Johan Cruff
  • Pele

I’ll go first with my comments on Nudger’s list.  Messi to replace Baxter and Maradona on instead of Cantona.  I also reserve the right to have Rooney in my starting line up if he brings home the World Cup!


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