Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?

A friend of mine has a 6 year old son that begged for a puppy for the longest time. They eventually bought him a beautiful labrador puppy and after the initial time it took them to get used to each other, the boy would take the puppy everywhere. One day, not too long ago, I was at their house watching a game and having some lunch when we heard this muffled yelp. We went to his son's room and asked what happened....."we were just playing" was the kid's reply as he lovingly stroked his pet.
We heard a couple more yelps after that, went in, asked the same question and predictably, got the same answer - and all the while we're there, he's petting the puppy. His dad told him to cut it out or the dog would be sitting with us in the other room.
"No, no" says his son, "we'll be quiet."
We shut the door but left a little crack open so we could watch and unbelievably, the kid was tormenting the dog, pinching it and making it squeal but as soon as we walked in he would pet it as though he loved it. Thankfully he finally got caught out and I'm glad I'm not the one to have to deal with those issues.
My point is that this story has so much in common with the new Syrian pirouette stance on Lebanon. I think you can match up the protagonists. Even the guy in the photo behind Saniora & Sharaa looks sceptical.

Also in the news is a mysterious masked witness that Syria has claimed was bribed into blah, blah, blah.....

Oh, by the way, the brat has not been allowed near another animal since.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Moving Along

Syria has decided to co-operate with the Mehlis investigation and send the six five senior officers to Vienna to be questioned. It appears that the one not going is Assad's brother-in-law. Interesting to note that the guarantee given to Syria by the Russian mediators (the former Soviet Union was Syria's major ally and armaments supplier) that if found guilty, the officers would not be arrested outside Syria, was considered an issue of sovereignty by the Syrian regime.
On a parallel track, a witness in the assassination of Hariri died mysteriously in a car accident. Considering our driving methods, you know it's serious when the Lebanese press call it mysterious.

Also, in an "intelligence" coup, Syria's official mouthpiece Ath-Thawra declared that there are 400 Mossad spies in Lebanon and that "these agents are encircling Lebanon like a belt and will explode when Israel and her strategic ally, the United States, have decided."
Exactly 400.

I would like to extend promised regrets (but short of an apology) to coolhoor for calling his team LiverPoo and promise not to call LiverPoo LiverPoo again. At least, not until LiverPoo's next game. My lovely Chelsea are back on form with a 2-0 win at Portsmouth and Frank Lampard set a new record.

And look how scary this is..... the American Taliban.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


George Best died yesterday. In these days of football superstardom it's easy to forget the man who Pele once famously called "the greatest footballer in the world". As kids growing up in the UK, it was George Best we all wanted to be. He battled his demons for many years but they eventually beat him. A minute's silence will be observed before all matches this weekend. Unexpectedly, his death at 59 made me very sad.
Goodbye Georgie.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Flying High

May Chidiac, the LBC journalist and anchor, went back on TV last night just a couple of months after she survived an assassination attempt by car bomb. She lost part of an arm and a leg in the attempt (the reasons for which are still quite puzzling) and was on TV to say that she would return to work as soon as she is able. I admire her courage.

I'm currently inquiring into the sport of paragliding. I'm doing this because I would like to know if you have to have the IQ of a boiled potato to be allowed to practice it. An Israeli civilian was blown off course to Southern Lebanon (Hezbollah country!) while paragliding in Northern Israel. How much fun could it be to fly over a war zone dangling from a few strings and a nylon handkerchief? I know it's a dangerous sport but I'm sure they don't have "escaping Hezbollah and running through a minefield" on the waiver form anywhere else. Maybe it was a dare.

I was going to comment on the dropping of leaflets over Lebanon by Israel but I think The Beirut Spring sums it up nicely here.

My lovely Chelsea won 2-0 in an uninspired game last night against Anderlecht. We now go through to the knockout stages along with Arse-nal & LiverPoo. I wonder if Manure FC (hat tip: Grocer Jack) will make it through. I know it's childish to amend names in that way, but not only does it amuse me, it feels good too. I'm 12.

Christmas has whizzed around again but this time I saw it coming. The trick is not to let it sneak up on you and this year I'm planning on buying gifts early, which is not like me at all. This time I'm going to wander through the shops in London with a little Moleskine and carefully purchase and tick off the gifts with great care - providing, of course, that a). It doesn't interfere with my preparations for the Chelsea game, and b). It doesn't interfere with anything else I want to do. So I'll probably end up rushing around ABC on Christmas Eve panicking like a paraglider, begging shops to stay open just long enough for me to buy that classy painting on velvet.

See ya.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Zero Hour

So it turns out that Hezbollah actually wanted to kidnap an Israeli tank and crew and display them during Lebanon's Independence Day festivities. From what I understand, they sent in a kidnap team on motorcycles rather like Command & Conquer which is really quite cool.....in a computer game.
Unfortunately, in the real world it's an exercise in futility and just makes us look like another crap banana republic. Imagine if they had succeeded in kidnapping them - do you think the Israeli Army would just let that happen again? Would that be protecting us?
In his inspiring speech yesterday, President Lahoud said that our collective mind has been twisted and turned by "conspiring nations in the West" and the Zionists and that he had been "wounded by the repeated libel" of those demanding his removal - so most of the the country then.
As if to complete his total isolation from reality, the President's official reception at Baabda Palace was not attended by many politicians and some EU ambassadors, many of them preferring instead to pay their respect at Rafic Hariri's graveside.

Britain has passed a law allowing pubs and other establishments to open way past the current 11pm licensing. Some places even get 24-hour licensing but a lot of people are complaining that this will fill London streets with drunken yobs. As you already know, I have a ticket to see Chelsea take on Liverpool on December 6th and while I am there in London I shall take advantage of this law and let you know if, in fact, it does lead to heavier drinking. No thanks necessary, consider it a public service.

As if on cue, my lovely Chelsea are playing tonight in the Champion's League against Anderlecht in an away game. I would like to say that so far, it's been a good week to be me, but that's just inviting trouble so I'll say nothing.

Have a good Hump Day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And The Winner Is....

Happy Independence Day to you all.....and look, I'm not even smirking.

I was woken by the 21-gun salute this morning which normally wouldn't affect me, but in these times it sounded horribly like a large car bomb, along with the rattling windows and sonic wave. It was close by. Before venturing out into the grown-up world I checked my email, scrolling through the bumph and the spam and almost scrolled past the headline "CONGRATULATIONS DESMOND". I checked the sender and it did have Chelsea in the address and so I opened it expecting another newsletter or some such. It was, in fact, a short missive to inform me that I am one of the lucky recipients of a ticket to the Chelsea-Liverpool Champion's League clash on the 6th of December at Stamford Bridge. A long forgotten competition for which I had entered my name never expecting anything as we don't do "winning prizes" in my family. Is there really such a thing as something for nothing? It seems so. I must pack.

My folks came back from Vegas suitably rested and with the requisite stories to tell. I love their traveling faces and moods. You'd be surprised to find out which airline's first class sleepers are better than others! I also spoke to Lindsay, Skye & the Dude who will all be coming back for Christmas.

Hezbollah and Israel are at it again. Rockets fired and all sorts of madness going. Some reports are even claiming that at one point they were going at it "mano a mano".

Sorry it's a bit short but it's a day off for me too....

Friday, November 18, 2005


The Lebanese Cabinet has decided to subsidize diesel fuel prices and in one fell swoop has neutralized one of Syria's (and Hezbollah's by association) weapons for trying to destabilize the government. Hezbollah, having been silenced first by being given the diesel price dossier (a very Machiavellian move by PM Saniora) and now by the subsidy, have reverted to the same old, tired nagging about Resolution 1559. So much for national unity. Again.

The torture allegations about secret Iraqi prisons where Iraqi citizens are tortured by other Iraqi citizens are being downplayed by the Iraqi government. The prison was discovered by US forces during a raid last Sunday and has created an uproar. A government spokesman was trying desperately to justify the beatings and torture by saying that the people held are "the most dangerous criminals and terrorists" (then he waved a bunch of passports to prove his point....obviously under the section "Occupation" in those passports was written "won't tolerate it"). The US, with not a trace of irony, stated that they "will not tolerate abuse of detainees."

Sony BMG has apologized for using stealth software to stop its CDs being illegally copied. The problem is that the software downloads itself onto your computer without your knowledge deep into the Windows operating system (when will you learn? Use an Apple.). It includes a media player which allows you to play the CD on that computer only - unfortunately it also creates a security hazard...... Major international corporations are so fun to watch when they get caught.
Amazon (we love Amazon!) have offered a full refund to any of their customers who bought one of the "spy" CDs from them. Now that's customer service. My own respect for and loyalty to all things Amazon sprang from an incident a few years back. One of my orders had been 3 months en route from the US to Beirut. I got in touch with Amazon to complain and they said that thay had traced the package to its arrival at Beirut Airport but don't know what happened to it after that. They asked me for an alternate address to resend the package to, preferably outside Lebanon so I gave them the address of a friend in the States who was coming here.
After my friend came with my new order, the old one was delivered as well. I contacted Amazon to say it had arrived & that I would send it back to them and to their eternal credit their reply email said: "Don't worry. Please donate the books and CDs to a local library or school." Brilliant. And yes, I did. Donate, that is, not worry.

And yesterday I had a flashback to my youth. A friend of mine in the UK sent me a gift (thanks Suze!) of a DVD of KISS Live... Back in the late 70's, early 80's I was a Kiss fan - more a Kiss maniac. I loved the music, the shows, the make-up (not actually on myself) and yes, the merchandise. I was totally mad about Kiss and a member of the Kiss Army. My tastes started to mature as I did (especially after the release of Pink Floyd's The Wall and the subsequent release of the movie and the mindblowing concert at Earl's Court) but I still have a soft spot for them and still know the words to all their songs, so this DVD of them was a welcome blast from the past. I wanted to say that they were better times, but were they?

On the subject of large companies, check out Grocer Jack's performance appraisal form for a guide to the way one should be written.

Enjoy your POETS day (hat tip Tony Soprano).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Trails

I just wanted to wish a bon voyage to fellow blogger and blogfather (and I mean that in the nice way) MacDara and his missus who are back off to the Emerald Isle for a little jaunt. They'll be back here in time for Christmas so if you want your stocking fillers you'd better drop him a line today. Just don't ask him to mail it to you.

Turkey is the latest country to "urge" Syria to comply with the international community. It's a bit rich coming from a country whose own record on human rights and freedoms is a bit suspect, to say the least. Since they are gagging to please the EU, whatever works, I suppose.

Meanwhile, Syria's co-operation with the UN enquiry is turning into a Monty Python script:

UN: "We'll meet in Monteverde."
Syria: "Alright...we'll meet in Cairo."
UN: "No, we said Monteverde."
Syria: "Good, that's decided then. Let's meet iiiiinnn.......Austria?"
UN: "Look, I really don't think you're listening."
Syria: "How dare you say that? I'm agreeing with you. How about Geneva?"
UN: "You're not really taking this seriously..."
Syria: "Oh yeah? Well neither are you. How about Damascus?"
UN: "You're taking the piss now."
Syria: "Yes, I'm sorry, it's been a long week......is the Golan OK?"
UN: "No."
Syria: "Dubai?"
UN: "No"
Syria: "Moscow?"
UN: "No."
Syria: "Libya? Iran? North Korea?"
UN: "I'm leaving." (UN exits stage left...)
Syria: "Whaaaat? What did I say? What?" (Stage empty except for Syria bathed in a really bright spotlight.)

I'm still confused as to how university student elections in Beirut are so important to the rest of us.

Anyway, godspeed, y'all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Once We Were Heroes

In the news today are unconfirmed reports that Hezbollah has now firmly nailed its colours to the post by visiting Syria.....to meet with the Iranian Foreign Minister. Not only does it show complete disregard for Lebanon as a nation but also contempt for all other parts of Lebanese society. Nice.

Syria has proven once again how out of touch with reality it is by calling on Lebanese to stage street demonstrations to topple our own PM Seniora. Sorry, but this time round they won't be able to bus in platoons of Syrians to bolster numbers. Just to give you an idea of its charismatic call to arms (and I quote the front page of a local paper - except that the capital letters and italics are my own): "On Friday, DOZENS of Bekaa residents demonstrated to demand the government lower the cost (of diesel fuel) to LL12,000 per 20 liters."
The worst aspect of it is that the Syrian regime still thinks it's OK to intimidate, threaten and bully another sovereign state. Come on now. Just because we got our ball back, doesn't mean you can't play nice.

(As I write this, Australia have just qualified for the World Cup 2006 by eliminating Uruguay on penalties. Good game. Except for Harry Kewell's "hair").

Does the Daily Star really think that a Lebanese teenager qualifying for the World Equestrian Championships rates a six-column article on the inside front page? Ok, congratulations to her, and yes, give it a mention, but how about putting it on the sports pages? It surprises me how a newspaper trying to present itself as serious and authoritative can have such lapses in judgement.
Their web site too shows some strange thinking. The only thing flashing on all of their pages is a link for ringtones and logos. Very classy. I won't even mention the massive banner at the top of the home page asking for money to keep the website functional - isn't that supposed to be paid for by SELLING newspapers? I could understand if you were promoting a news website that wasn't affiliated to any newspaper and needed funds. I mean, the logic should surely run something like this: you sell newspapers, you make money, and with that money you expand to include a web site. You don't sell enough newspapers, then take a hint - nobody is reading it. Before anyone sends me an email denouncing me as a closet Daily Star subscriber, let me tell you that I buy the IHT - the Star comes with it.

Good news is that it poured with rain today. I love it. Seven months of only sunshine can be depressing too.

Have a good Hump Day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

3 Pints & A Packet Of Crisps, Please

In the UK, they are trying to pass a law which would allow pubs to stay open 24 hours. Many think that this is disgraceful and that keeping longer licensing hours would mean more alcohol abuse, but personally I think it would cut down on binge drinking. I think this because if someone gives you a deadline by which you have to stop doing something you like, you will intensify your efforts to do as much of it as you can before the curfew. This remains true for absolutely anything.
I've been in pubs with friends and having a chat and a laugh when all of a sudden the last orders bell rings and there is a stampede of people (occasionally myself among them, ahem..) ordering 3 or 4 drinks each and then having to neck them in about 10 minutes, hence the binge-drinking. If you don't finish by drinking up time you just get thrown out and your drink taken away. I go to the pub to see my friends and catch up and I certainly don't count how many drinks I'm having - this doesn't mean I go out with the sole aim of getting drunk, but a good buzz as a side effect is always a plus! Most people know when they've had enough and have the sense to stop or leave. The ones that don't aren't really going to be affected one way or the other by what time the pub closes. There IS such a thing as responsible drinking.
A drinking culture exists in Britain and Ireland. The pub is the centre of the social universe. The pub is where we meet our friends, a rendez-vous point. It's where you go for "one for the road" after work. It's a place you can go to any time of the day and sit quietly and read your paper or get loud and rowdy if you prefer. It's the alcoholic equivalent of the coffee shop only slightly smokier. Except in Ireland.
Anyway, the new campaign warning of drunk & disorderly spot fines in the UK are pretty graphic, with one of the posters showing the fine amount elegantly spelled out in vomit. Nice touch. Bloody yobs.

Another nice touch is that in a small corner of the newspaper today it is being reported that the fine, ethically-minded inmates of Damascus' main jail are going on a 3-day hunger strike to protest the "unfair pressure" being put on Syria by the international community. Yes, you did read that correctly and I'm still looking for my "What the fuck?" section in which to file it.

Personally, I'm on cruise control waiting for Saturday to roll around bringing with it more Premiership fun. My lovely Chelsea go up against Newcastle and if we lose that, we have some 'splainin' to do....


Monday, November 14, 2005

Primus Inter Pares

Good morning all. Normally, I hate Mondays for no apparent reason. Sometimes I hate them almost as if they were a person - but not this Monday. You see, this Monday is a fine day to be a fan. That is to say, a sports fan....and to be specific, an England sports fan. This past weekend has made all England fans proud in all the major English sports - football, rugby and cricket.
In football we beat Argentina in a "friendly" match; in rugby, we beat our old nemesis Australia and in cricket we've taken control against Pakistan.
The football was a sublime showing of latent talent (finally) against the world number 2. On the field the English players were courteous, sportsmanlike and quite frankly, up for it. Even Wayne Rooney didn't lose his cool for a moment. A goal from him and 2 from Michael Owen have kept this grin on my face all weekend long. Well done. I sound fairly restrained but I'm actually deliriously happy and even a grinding, celebratory hangover on Sunday morning didn't dampen my enthusiasm. And against Australia....well, even though the Aussies are having their worst showing for years it still feels good to beat them and even better to see that after all we do have a rugby team again.

Sunday was the annual service of remembrance in London when tribute is paid to the British & Commonwealth war dead. It's always a moving ceremony. A nice addition this year were 20 war veterans who used semaphore to send a secret, silent message along the Thames from Greenwich to Whitehall where it was symbolically decoded. It read: "War turns us to stone. In remembrance we shine and rise to new days".

Also on Sunday was the Beirut International Marathon. 17,000 people turned out for that so it seems to be a success. One of the reasons I was quite impressed with it was that the police actually did their job. My street in Gemmayze was cleared of cars the night before, even though it is full of bars and restaurants, and kept clear politely but firmly (plus last year it was resurfaced beautifully a few days before the event). So it seems to me that our police force are capable of doing whatever tasks need to be done as long as they have the management and leadership. It needles me a bit to see that when it comes to projecting a nice, orderly image to the world we can surpass anyone but when it comes to actually doing something of substance for ourselves we mainly fail miserably. The capability seems to be there, just not the will.

A failed suicide bomber from the attacks in Amman was caught and paraded on Jordanian TV over the weekend. What struck me was that she didn't come across as a raving, fanatical religious extremist. She was a dreary, cold hearted, hatchet-faced woman who nonetheless was able to describe the target as being full of children and women and still be able to try and detonate her bomb belt. No remorse and no emotion.

Have a good start to the week.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Say What?

Well, what a nice couple of days. First the horrific bombings in Amman and then Assad's speech. The former I can't understand and the latter sounded like bravado - like whistling in a graveyard.

For all intents and purposes Assad told the UN and the international community to get the hell outta Dodge. Lovely. That at least calmed some fears that he may go on the offensive. Then he goes on to call our PM Siniora a slave - good, diplomatic language. He's not exactly going out of his way to avoid trouble, is he? Of course the crowning glory of it all is that according to him, Lebanon, the tiny neighbour the Assad regime brutally occupied for 30 years, is responsible for all their woes. And so they stir up more unrest in Lebanon through their thugs. As Parliament yesterday started to discuss the Assad speech, Amal and Hezbollah MP's decided to WALK OUT of the session - again mature, confidence-inspiring reactions. They had to leave because effectively they can't say a thing without conferring with their masters - when something impromptu happens they don't know where they stand.
This does not bode well. Let's hope the international community follows through with its demands and doesn't leave us hanging.

As for the mindless bombings in Amman, well.... major international hotels are well-known hotbeds of western proselytizing, especially when they play host to Jordanian wedding parties. I still can't get my head round the reasons given by terrorists for doing what they do.

I'm starting to have withdrawal symptoms from my lovely Chelsea not playing for another week although I'm hoping tomorrow's friendly against Argentina will give me something to gloat about for a week. I'm also pleased to see that the apparent bust up between Mourinho and Crespo was all a load of cobblers. Where Drogba's muscle doesn't work, Crespo's flair will. Bring on Newcastle.

Enjoy your weekend.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Health & Safety

G'morning all. In the paper today was an article about how the Syrian investigation into the Hariri assassination is proceeding. More lip service being paid to the rest of the world. I love to read these articles for the sheer irony of them and I refuse to believe that the reporter who filed it didn't snigger as he clicked 'save'. The presiding Syrian judge said "we will respect the absolute secrecy and safety of our witnesses."
Now, maybe I'm getting too involved in the minutae of it all or maybe it was a mistake in translation but instead of "respect" she could have said "guarantee" or "ensure" or any other word which would inspire confidence and a feeling of safety. Yeah, makes me want to come forward and tell all....
Please read the Lebanese Political Journal - well written and thought-provoking and the comments are always intelligent and entertaining. You don't have to be heavily into politics to enjoy it.

In other news, I have the flu. Or maybe it's a cold. If I start to chirp or feel that I won't be migrating this winter, I will let you know.

Enjoy your Tuesday as I have to go and start warming up for the England-Argentina "friendly" on Saturday. Oxymoron. Honestly, as if a football match between those two countries could ever be classified as friendly, amicable or even respectful. They are going to play in Geneva, I assume to reinforce the friendly aspect.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Face Value

Well, my face is red. I recently commented that Mr. Phil Collins is a has-been and since then, I have been thoroughly and irrefutably proved wrong. Saturday night's concert was brilliant. He started off by proving that he was still the drummer he always was and never let up from there. Not a song was played that everyone couldn't mumble along to. He was the consummate showman, showed a great sense of humour and even made the (not inconsiderable) effort to say more in Arabic than the requisite "Marhaba" (hello) and "Shukran" (thank you), and thanked the Lebanese for their friendship and hospitality (although that was probably the rock tour equivalent of "Hey (insert city name here), we love you...... You ROCK!!!") I imagine the Turks had heard the same a couple of days before - but I digress.
He was brilliant. I take back anything bad I said about him and put forth my abject apologies. I'm sorry. There Mac, I did it. But I still mean it about everyone else I mentioned....

Of course, not everything was well with my concert experience, but that had nothing with Mr. Collins nor his formidable band. As Sartre said, "Hell is other people"
I make the same mistake every time there's a show, thinking that the most expensive seats are the better ones. As far as the view goes they are, but for concert experience they leave a lot to be desired. The couple in front of me, in their 40's, spent the whole time looking behind them and waving to their friends. Not before the show, but during it. Yes. It was quite disconcerting to have the guy immediately in front of me seemingly stare at me way too often. I could see most of the other people (dressed in their finest) around the VIP section wondering who the hell this Paul Collings is and what he plays....
All the fun was happening behind us, the dancing, the clapping, the whooping and shouting, even a couple of catfights, according to MacDara & the G-Man.
The thing is that, generally speaking, the people who buy VIP tickets (a real misnomer) don't really give a monkey's about who's performing, they just want to see and be seen, and have a cushion chucked on their seats. The real fans who can't pony up $200 a ticket are moved back and the fun part with them. From now on organizers should put the VIP section in the back or even the car park and put fans up front. Of course, failing that, they might want to put ticket prices in line with reality.

On an altogether more depressing note, Manchester United ended my lovely Chelsea's 40-game winning streak with a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford. They deserved the win and that's all I'm going to say. Except something about them winning battles, not wars. Or maybe that we're still top of the league and staying there. And yes, blue is still the colour. But that's all.
Plenty of football and rugby this month so I shall be glued to the screen in a nice way.

Alright, back to Monday. See ya.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Time for a Quickie

Just a quickie before the weekend starts for me. It's Phil Collins tonight and I'm actually quite excited about it. I'm also quite embarrassed about saying that.
The funniest thing I've seen in the past couple of days is a webcam that Belgian Koen Bogaert has set up to watch his chickens Thelma & Louise for signs of avian flu. The horrible thing is that I can't stop watching.....

That's pretty much it. Enjoy yours.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One More Night

I'm going to a Phil Collins concert this Saturday. Normally, a few days before going to any concert I like to listen to a few of the artist's songs just to put myself in the mood. The last time I did this was for Van Morrison a few months ago and that was to listen to his new album before actually seeing him.
Two things happened with Phil Collins:
1- I realised that the only song I have of his is "In The Air Tonight"
2- I realised that nobody above the age of 30 needs to own a song by Phil Collins. I know this because I can name AND sing a decent version of all of his post-Genesis songs and I'm well over 30.

This came to me as quite a shock because I am really not a Phil Collins fan. I don't even think that Phil Collins' music is all that.....but I seem to have absorbed every musical note of his through some perverse kind of melodic osmosis. At one point, he was on every airwave that was broadcast, every song he wrote went to number one.....hell, even the songs he just thought about went to number one.
He did Live Aid. Twice. And now, against all odds, he's coming to Beirut.

Now, I know we like to think that our country has some irresistable artistic attraction to superstars but personally (and Rolling Stone can quote me), I think that coming here to perform is a sure sign that you're a has-been.
Deep Purple, The Scorpions, Sting, Elton John, ELO, Roger Waters, Brian Ferry, Placebo...... am I forgetting anyone? I excluded Joe Cocker out of adoration and James Brown out of respect, but apart from them that list looks a little....ummm....has-been. Of course, some of them were a few years ago but at the time they were here, their has-been quotient (which I like to call "the BIEL factor"- after the name of the arena) was already peaking.

I don't know whether I should commend him on his strength of purpose for not cancelling during the past couple of months, or commiserate with him on the decline of his career but either way, I'm going to see him and I'll probably have a good time. Besides, I'm secretly hoping he'll do "Follow You, Follow Me". How sad is that?

The Syrian denial at the UN yesterday brought back memories of the barefaced lying of the Soviet Union during the Cold War - happier, simpler times. Besides, any man with such an intricate comb-over can't be trusted.

Off to watch my lovely Chelsea play Real Betis tonight. Maybe another 4-0 thrashing will soothe my tortured soul - that and a lot of beer.