Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A TWO PRONGED ATTACK...
I sometimes wonder what those nice, friendly Quakers, who started the Cadbury chocolate empire in their Arcadian village of Bournville all those years ago, would make of how things have turned out these days.
It`s one thing to have been bought up by Kraft, the American food company, but quite another for one of its most treasured traditions to be sabotaged by the insufferable EU `legislation.` Now I well recall from my youth the trouble Cadburys were in with some of their advertisements, especially those on TV. For some reason, the Cadburys Flake advert, featuring a comely young lady relaxing in a bath whilst tenderly licking around the edges of one of the flakes, has always `stood out for me,` so to speak. But the singular slogan that Cadburys have used since birth has been the one that declared there was `a glass and a half` of pure British milk in every half pound.
Now, thanks to EU rules, that slogan has been replaced by - wait for it - "The equivalent of 426ml of fresh liquid milk in every 227g of milk chocolate." Kind of trips off the tongue, doesn`t it? And so the two pronged attack from America and Europe on a cherished British institution is complete.
Now if you`ll forgive me,, I`m off to have a bath with my curly-wurly.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MIXED RESULTS..

Well, James Alexander Gordon got it wrong. On Saturday, Saints scored the only goal of their game away to Sheffield Wednesday on 64 minutes. Had we gone to 84 minutes without scoring, it would have equalled the longest goalless spell in the club`s entire 125 year history. Not a lot of people knew that, to be fair. But the narrow win means that Saints are out of the relegation zone, having climbed to 18th in Division 3 and are now officially on a roll. Possibly.

Over the weekend, there was much dancing in Snopper Street, not only because of the Saints victory but also because the Gills also managed a narrow 1-0 win which must have cheered up my long suffering neighbour no end. In fact, our street was denied a clean sweep of victories thanks to the Addicks of Charlton, who included local hero pacy flanker Scott ("Buzzin`) Wagstaff in their starting line-up, only managing to draw against Dagenham and Redbridge. But, two out of three ain`t bad and if someone had offered me that before the games began then I would have bitten their proverbial hand off, so to speak.
On the Miliband Chuckle Brothers front, younger brother Ed is now the Leader of the Labour Party, thanks mainly to the votes of the `affiliated trade unions and socialist societies.` So he owes them, as the other elements of the electoral college, the Labour MPs and MEPs and the party members, went for his brother David. Maybe I should care more than I do, but I have the feeling that Ed is in for a hard time satisfying his union sponsors (they coughed up £100,000 for his campaign apparently) whilst at the same time being in any way appealing to a wider audience. So, all in all, a weekend of mixed results, but I do wonder whether time will tell if Ed wishes he might not have won after all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

IF ONLY IT WAS FUNNY..

As if to deliberately vie with the dulcet tones of James Alexander Gordon as he monotones this afternoon`s football results, the outcome of the Labour leadership contest will be announced at 4.40pm this afternoon at the party`s conference in Manchester. It will be the culmination of a long and complicated process by which the new Leader of the Labour Party and therefore Leader of Her Majesty`s Most Loyal Opposition is elected.

There are three `elements` that make up the process by which the leader is elected. There are the sitting Labour MPs and Labour Members of the European Parliament (MEPs); paid up members of the Party; and affiliated organisations, such as trade unions and `socialist societies.` There`s a complex process involving second and even third preference votes so that, finally, the candidate with the most overall votes will emerge as the winner.
The likely outcome is that one of the Miliband Brothers (pictured) will emerge victorious and climb into a job which will see his salary rise from the basic £65,000 as an MP to something like £140,000 as Leader of the Opposition. Now it`s a good idea to have an Opposition and it`s a longstanding principle of democratic government that such an arrangement is in place. I`ve no problem with it but as with so many other things, the integrity and gravitas of the individual will either enhance or diminish the reputation of the office.
Today`s winner might have been Ed Balls, Andy Burnham, Diane Abbott even, but it seems either David (Gap Year) Miliband or his younger brother Ed will be fighting it out. And thereby hangs the problem, for neither of them inspire and like all the other candidates there`s the feeling that they aspire to office rather than deserve it. And all the time, as this intense charade plays out, the ruling ConDemNation coalition government must be smiling inwardly to itself as it witnesses the `opposition` by which it will be held to account.
So, just before 5.00pm this afternoon I might just be more interested in listening to James Alexander Gordon, "Sheffield Wednesday five, Southampton nil..........."

Friday, September 24, 2010

BETTER TO ARRIVE THAN TRAVEL?

Over recent years, I`ve been to quite a few airports - Stanstead, Heathrow, the new Heathrow Terminal 5 and Gatwick South. I`ve been going there either to collect or deliver my Hamburg based son and his family. I`ve never actually flown anywhere myself for quite a few years now, but I have become something of an experienced observer of those who do.


And yesterday I made yet another in my long line of deliveries to Gatwick, when our visitors were due to fly back to Hamburg having spent some time with us. I`m not sure I get on terribly well with airports. There`s the extortionate car parking charge of £5 for the first hour....and here`s me moaning last week about paying £3.50 to park at Daymer Bay in Cornwall for a whole day. Then there`s the enormous queue to check in and sort out the baggage, then the check to see if you`ve got any lipstick, fluids or other dubious stuff that needs to be left behind in little sealed plastic bags. Then there`s the endless security checks which my son tells me even involve our two grandsons (9 and 7) being stripped down with their shoes and socks removed. (Knowing my grandson as I do, maybe they do, after all, pose a security threat.) Then there`s the general `demeanour` of the actual passengers, whether they be boarding or alighting. They seem to be in a daze, as if transfixed in their own bewilderment as they subject themselves to the series of challenges that face them in their attempts to get anywhere. And I haven`t even mentioned immigration control or customs or men holding up cards with people`s names on or the extraordinary Costa coffees with their hyped up price tags and their bottomless mugs.

My son`s flight was delayed for a couple of hours, courtesy of a strike by French air traffic controllers, which I suppose makes a change from the assorted strikes regularly called by British ATCs, baggage handlers, etc. All of which suggests that the usual notion that it`s better to travel than to arrive might be out of date at least where air travel is concerned. My last flight was, I think, to Lisbon 16 years ago and the subsequent years of just observing the comings and goings at UK airports probably means that I won`t be bothering again any time soon. Anyway, my passport ran out years ago.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thanks to a little help from my friends, I have now managed to install a link (down the right hand side a bit - SNOPPER`S FLICKR PICS) which shows a few of the most recent pictures I`ve put on my flickr page.
If you click on any of the thumbnails, you should automatically go to an enlarged image of the one you`ve clicked on. This will give you access to my photostream and the `sets` of photos I`ve taken.
It`s early days, of course - I`ve only had the camera for a couple of weeks, so I haven`t taken many snopperpics yet.
Oh, and you`ll see I`m listed as `Snoppo,` which is because someone else is already listed on flickr as `Snopper.` Surely there can`t be two of us or am I really in a parallel universe?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE..

We have the real pleasure of our youngest son and our two grandsons staying with us for a few days from their home in Hamburg, so we thought they might like a visit to the seaside.

On Monday, we drove down to Camber Sands and took Barney with us as he likes nothing better than a romp on the beach. The late September weather was perfect and the tide was going out which left a vast expanse of sand to be explored. The boys managed an impressive collection of seashells, which they want to take back to Germany and the rest of us just enjoyed the bracing fresh air and the almost indulgent feeling of being at a place like that on a Monday whilst the rest of the world were at school or at work.

Anyway, I`ve stuck some photos on my FlickR page, which I hope you might be able to see here:-

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


JUST PLAIN WRONG..
After a short period of relative calm, I`m afraid I have come across something that has made me angry. My Mother died a few years ago, aged 90, and she spent her last few days and weeks in the North Hampshire Hospital at Basingstoke. She was well looked after by a committed and dedicated team who ensured that her last days were as comfortable as they could make them.
I visited as often as I could - every other day from here in Kent and each time I had to fork out for parking my car in their large car park (if I could find a space.) I didn`t mind too much and at times like that you don`t even think about the cost involved. But outside of the hospital environment, things appear a little different.
It appears that hospital parking is free in Scotland (like so many other things that we south of the border are helping to fund,) in most of Wales and in certain areas of Northern Ireland. The bit of the UK where parking charges apply pretty much universally is....England. Now, if we were anything like a truly United Kingdom (or Queendom?) you would imagine that something as sensitive as hospital car parking would have a common policy throughout the land. Well, it obviously hasn`t and the situation has not been helped by the ConDemNation`s coalition Government announcing that it will not be implementing Labour`s pre-election promise to scrap charges in England too.
The reason given is purely economic, since the parking charges bring in something like £110million each year. All of which misses the point entirely which is that, for patients, out patients and concerned visitors, all of whom can find themselves in stressful and desperate circumstances, to have to worry about finding the cash to park their cars - or else - is just plain wrong. There are certain circumstances in life (and death, sadly) when it is simply insensitive to apply the kind of policies that can be accepted as part of `normal` life elsewhere....and this is one of them.
I always thought the measure of any society was the way in which it treated the elderly, the poor and particularly the sick. Says a lot about our `society` when the most important consideration is finance rather than compassion.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

SNOPPER NOW ON FLICKR..
Thanks to the purchase of a new camera and yet another triumph of technological wizardry, I can now post photos I`ve taken on FlickR.
These were taken last week during our stay in Cornwall.
(Hope it works)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

....and I suppose there`s some comfort in knowing that whilst you`ve been away for a week, not much has happened during your absence. My neighbour reliably informs me that the most excitement in Snopper Street was when someone moved their car a bit.
So, not much to report on the home front, but we had a super week away in Cornwall - blessed with good weather, except on Wednesday when we were due for a rest anyway and blessed with memorable walks along the cliffs and beaches of Daymer Bay, Polzeath, Polly Joke, Holywell Bay, Cadgwith and the headlands at Pentire and Trevose. But for me, the week was memorable for achieving one long held ambition and almost achieving another.
The one I did manage after years of near misses was to finally visit the church at St. Neot. This is a small village on the southern edges of Bodmin Moor. It`s very picturesque, quiet and peaceful but its glory is the collection of medieval stained glass windows in the Parish Church of St. Anietus. Certainly the finest church windows in Cornwall and with the possible exception of those at Fairford in Gloucestershire, probably the finest in the whole country. More on that story at http://www.stneot.org.uk/parish_church_of_st_neot.html
The one visit I didn`t quite make this time was to Creegbrawse, a mile or so from Chacewater deep in the heart of the Cornish mining country. I`ve long been fascinated by the Cornish mining industry and Creegbrawse was the site of the beginning of the great county adit, which drained a host of mines over a distance of some 40 miles in the Gwennap, St. Day, Blackwater, Scorrier area and beyond, draining to the Carnon River which has its mouth at Restronguet on the south coast. It was by any standards a remarkable feat of engineering, determination and dedication and one which deserves more acknowledgement than it gets. Maybe next time I`ll make the pilgrimage.
Again, whilst things may not have happened much at home, things have been going on in the `wider world.` I suppose the most notable event was the Pope`s visit. Now those of you who know my religious beliefs (by which I mean there aren`t any) will expect some cynicism about the costly arrival of an old ex-Hitler Youth German dressed up in a frock and waving his arms around at anyone he sees. But no - I`ll put cynicism to one side and just accept that people can believe whatever they want to believe and follow the teachings of whoever they choose. It`s none of my business although I have to repeat what I`ve said before which is that, whilst I may have no quarrel with Him upstairs, his self-appointed representatives on earth are a bit of a problem when it comes to setting examples for the rest of us.
But as if to smite me for teetering on the edge of blasphemy, in my absence my beloved Saints have become rooted in the relegation zone at the foot of Division 3. Our new manager, Nigel Adkins, needs time, patience and goodwill to find his feet and move us forward. If only he would refrain from speaking of himself in the third person. When Snopper hears that kind of thing, then Snopper gets worried. To be fair.
It`s good to be home though.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


HERE WE GO AGAIN..
The beach you see in the picture above is Crantock Beach in Cornwall. We set off tomorrow morning on the 300-mile or so journey down to north Cornwall and, although the weather forecast for the weekend is a bit `iffy,` the Meteorological Office have issued a weather update saying that a ridge of high pressure is coming in from the Atlantic and so dry, warm, fine weather is expected for south western areas of the country over the next week or so. Winds light and variable, force 2-3, visibility good, state of the sea slight. So we might be ok.
Took Barney for a last minute check-up with ace vet Dave Cocker this morning - Barney`s put a bit of weight on thanks to a penchant for buttered toast and biscuits but a daily scamper along Crantock Beach and lots of walks in other parts of Cornwall should do him good - and me too.
Once again, my apologies for having no idea how to do remote blogging. When we get back, our youngest son and two grandsons will be visiting us for a few days, so it might be a couple of weeks before I`m blogging again. But, hey, in the last couple of weeks I`ve bought a new mobile phone and a new camera, both of which I`ve got to get my head around, so my limited techyness will be stretched to the limit anyway.
By the way, it appears that this is my 700th post on this blog - so plenty of back catalogue for you to browse while I`m away if you are that sad. (winky emoticom thingy)
CU in a couple of weeks :-)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

STRICTLY ATTENTION SEEKING..

Last evening I started to watch the England-Switzerland game but after a few minutes, I decided I wasn`t interested in watching a bunch of overpaid, womanising, millionaire poseurs managed by a £6million a year Italian easing their way to qualification for Euro 2012. So I turned over to watch the end of the 20-20 cricket international between England and Pakistan which England won comfortably. Not surprising really given the mess that Pakistan cricket is in and also given that these days the England cricket team contains a small gathering of South Africans and an Irishman as well as some doughty English battlers . Inclusivity and multi-culturalism rule OK it seems..... all the time the results keep coming.

But even that tv exposure will soon pale into insignificance with the announcement of the new season of Strictly Come Dancing and the list of `celebrities` subjecting themselves to this seasonal humiliation. They are, of course, the usual collection of has-beens, never-weres and fading once-upon-a times and include, as if in a fit of BBC spitefulness, one time Maidstone MP and Government Minister Ann Widdecombe.
Now I really thought that when she gave up being an MP at the last election, she might just slip quietly away to Devon and never be seen or heard again. But it seems the glare of publicity and an irrepressible need for attention seeking has proved too much for this celebrity virgin to resist. I can`t say why I`m not looking forward to it or, indeed, why I wont be watching it, but I think there may be two reasons.
First, I don`t like shows that rely on ritual and institutionalised humiliation in the name of entertainment. It`s not funny seeing people who should know better make fools of themselves but, secondly, I`m old fashioned enough to think that people like Ann Widdecombe being seduced into taking part in the Strictlys of this world, somehow diminish the work they did in government and especially the offices they might have held. Goodness knows, politics and politicians need all the help going to restore some public faith and credibility and putting themselves up for these kind of fols-de-rol ain`t helping. Oh, hang on, Prime Minister`s Questions are back again. Maybe there`s no escape after all.

Monday, September 06, 2010


PER ARDUA AD ASTRA..
From our Golf Correspondent
Finding it difficult these days to even remember what amnesia means, it was no surprise that Snopper almost forgot that he was due to play the 18-hole course at Poult Wood today. It was yesterday morning that he realised it and fending off his usual panic attack, he took his faithful retriever Barney for a walk around a nearby course, with the intention of replenishing his stock of golf balls, which had seriously been diminished recently. On his last outing, he lost no less than nine balls and so he felt he needed to make sure that he had an ample supply for today`s challenge. Between them they managed to reclaim 17 lost balls from the nearby course, which I shall refrain from naming just in case any legal action might come Snopper`s way, but even he thought that 17 balls might just be enough for today.
And what a day it was. No liberal rule interpretation , no creative accountancy, just a straight forward round of golf which saw Snopper card 96. Helped by a handicap that he stubbornly refuses to reduce from the maximum allowed of 28, Snopper`s net score for today came to 68. And the par for the course? Why, 68 of course. His card included three triple bogey 7s, a smattering of pars and an assortment of 5s and 6s - all very encouraging for our intrepid and ageing hero, who might just have been encouraged enough to begin to take things a little more seriously.
There are, however, a few things that might hold back any progress. His collection of clubs, for instance, has been with him for over 20 years and have seen better days, even though he only uses a few of them. Then there is his bag, of similar vintage, showing some unattractive smudges and patches and most of the zips don`t work any more either. Not surprising really as the pockets are crammed full with more balls than are surely allowed under the Royal and Ancient Rules. His trolley has problems too, in particular the fact that the tyres on the wheels come off quite often. So I won`t be surprised to see an improvement in his equipment and not before time.
But given the struggles he has had, his wonky knee, the arthritis in his wrist, the condition of his tools, the blustery, wet conditions for much of the afternoon and tee placements put as far back as possible by a clearly malevolent greenkeeper, Snopper`s score marks something of a personal milestone for him. For others, of course, such a score would be laughable, but then they are the fortunate ones who may possess an inherent talent for the game which means they don`t have to go through quite so much ardua to arrive at their personal astra.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A KICK TOO FAR?

Apologies for yet another football rant, but as I mentioned the other day, if you`re a Saints fan, you`re never more than three feet away from a kick in the nuts.


I`ve been digging out my old football programmes and I came across one from seven years ago almost to the day. It was on Sunday, 31st August 2003, that Saints played Manchester United at St. Mary`s in front of a crowd of 32,066. Late in the game, James Beattie headed in a corner from Graham Le Saux and despite a frantic last few minutes, Saints held on to record yet another win over United to go to fourth place in the Premiership. One abiding memory of that day is of our manager, Gordon Strachan, saying he was going to celebtrate that evening by staying at home and watching teletext. Heady days indeed.

Yesterday, in a League One (really Division 3) fixture, Saints lost 2-0 at home to Rochdale in front of a crowd of 18,169 and find themselves in 14th place in the third tier of English football. The team looked disjointed, the natives were restless and the prospects look decidedly grim. No complaints about the result - Rochdale deserved the three points for their spirit, endeavour and finishing, all qualities sadly lacking in a clearly demoralised Saints team. There was plenty of huff and puff, lots of headless chicken-esque chasing around but absolutely no guile or penetration. Key players like Rickie Lambert Southampton`s Goal Machine (RLSGM) are so much off form and clearly carrying injuries, caretaker manager Dean Wilkins was guilty of tactical naivety and duff substitutions and there was a crying need for leadership.

It seems the bubble may be bursting, following the death of Markus Liebherr, the sacking of Alan Pardew and a string of questionable decisions made by Executive Chairman, Nicola Cortese. It`s still very early in the season, of course, but it`s as clear as day that firm, decisive action must be taken and quickly if a season of much promise is to be rescued. Such a contrast to seven years ago, when teletext was much more enjoyable tv watching than Goals on Sunday was this morning. As in the dark days of Chairman Rupert Lowe, I`m considering whether I really want to drive the 250 miles round trip, spend a small fortune and feel all of my 71 years to watch what I saw yesterday. It may just have been a kick too far.
SUCH A WASTE..
I see that Tony Bliar was pelted with eggs, shoes and assorted garbage at the launch of his book, `A Journey` at a Dublin book shop yesterday.
I agree with the shoes and assorted garbage bit, but I`m not sure he`s worth wasting eggs on.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


THREE FEET AWAY...

Well, it`s been a few days now. Dust has begun to settle, knees have stopped jerking and Saints fans are coming to terms with the sudden departure of manager Alan Pardew, which came after a successful year on the pitch, and a thumping 4-0 win away at Bristol Rovers last Saturday.

Naturally enough, there has been much speculation among the fans as to the reasons for this turn of events, ranging from the plausible to the downright ridiculous but rumours are now spreading that there might have been some serious breaches of conduct behind the scenes. One of these rumours suggests that Pardew`s departure may have a resonance with his departure from West Ham a while ago, but in the end, whilst we might like to know, it really isn`t any of our business.

Nonetheless, there is a proposition going the rounds here in Kent. It`s been suggested that Pardew wanted our street`s gay icon pacy flanker Scott ("Buzzin` Sixpack") Wagstaff to sign for Saints before the closure of the transfer window so as to bring some much needed pace to our flanks. Pardew went to see Saints` Executive Chairman, Nicola Cortese, with this proposition. Now, Cortese, being of Swiss/Italian extraction is believed to have a `season ticket` at La Scala in Milan. Small wonder then that, when he looked into Waggy`s background and discovered that his taste in music included something called Yolande Be Cool vs D Cup and also the combo known as Outkast, that was the end of that.
In all seriousness though, Pardew was our 13th manager in 10 years and I guess we Saints fans should have known better than to expect even a little continuity. And so the speculation has now turned to who might be the 14th in this line-up, with the usual suspects coming out of the woodwork . Fortunately, neither `Sir` Alex Ferguson nor Big Sam is likely to end up at St. Mary`s, so there is at least the odd blessing to count, although rumours of David O`Dreary joining Saints are worrying.
All this post-Lowe and post-Liebherr upheaval has reminded me of the well known truism that had its roots in Southampton, which is : "If you`re a Saints fan, you`re never more than three feet away from a kick in the nuts." I`m off down there on Saturday to see Saints take on Rochdale - yes, Rochdale. Now where did I leave my ` athletic supporter?`