October 2008 Archives
British Superbikes, by Zoe Burn
IT seems like just two minutes ago when we all headed south to Brands Hatch as the 2008 season started in earnest - yet here we are seven months later with just two days until the chequered flag falls for the last time.
And when the final Superbike does cross the line at around 5pm on Sunday afternoon, it will be the end of an era as we bid a fond farewell to some of the UK's top riders.
In the biggest shake-up BSB has seen for some years, many of the fans favourites will wave goodbye this weekend, as they head out to the world scene.
Newly-crowned champ Shane "Shakey" Byrne is looking to end his stint with Airwaves Ducati on a high on his local track.
"It's my home circuit, and I can just go out there and enjoy myself knowing that the Championship is mine," he said. "I really hope I can sign the season off in style and I'm going to be pushing 100% to get back onto the top step of the podium."
But Shakey is going to have his work cut out. The battle for the runner-up spot looks set to be a corker, and on a track as tiny as the Indy circuit, it's all to play for.
Leon "Pocket Rocket" Haslam is another man heading abroad next year, and having been pipped to the title by Byrne, the HM Plant Honda man will be taking no prisoners.
"Winning is what it is all about and and I want to end the season with a double, ending on a real high - my aim at the start of the season was the title, but now I want to be the best of the rest. In the last four rounds I've been the top scorer and I am keen to continue that to make up for the bad start I had to the season." he said.
Meanwhile Rizla Suzuki's Tom "Grinnner" Sykes could still nab P2 from under the nose of Haslam before he too goes to the World stage
"I am going there in the mind set to win the races," said Sykes. "I need to at least beat Leon Haslam as we want the runner-up spot in the standings rather than third."
Haslam's team-mate Cal Crutchlow - who heads to World Supersport in 09 - believes he too has unfinished business
"I desperately want to end this year on a high and for me a win at least would be the best way to sign-off things in the UK but I will be doing everything I can to do the double."
These guys may be set for a battle royale among themselves, but more pressure is sure to come from riders like Michael Rutter, James Ellison and Karl Harris, as everyone bids to end 08 with that all-important win.
Autumn is the ideal time to start composting. We are all clearing back the gardens, cutting down shrubs and trees, doing the final cuts on the lawn and preparing for winter.
Here is how to make the most of your garden waste and use it as compost.
Blue Peter celebrates its 50th birthday next week in a fanfare of publicity from the BBC.
There's lots happening - a live hour-long extended version of the show, current and selected former presenters having tea with the Queen, and the return of Peter Purves with a quiz on Blue Peter's history.
Wanna bet some of the show's more colourful presenters won't get a mention....
A STUDENT of mine posed this question recently "How does martial arts training make you a better, more moral person".
My quick answer was: "It doesn't!"
My rationale was that the training itself is just set of different moves that potentially can kill, maim and hurt and that the moves themselves are not vehicles of moral teaching but are by their nature neutral and at worst can be the complete opposite.
So does this mean that martial arts are devoid of moral understandings?
Again I would argue no.
I have yet to come any system that advocates actively going out and beating strangers up for the sake of it.
My most recent posting about the Gone Too Soon website went down like a Big Mac at a Vegetarian Society meeting, so I'm moving on to more pressing matters . . . sandwiches.
We all need sandwiches but I recently complained that they have become far too complicated. Go into any deli and you'll be confronted with a mind-boggling array of options.
Single people text a lot. Married people don't. According to recent figures from the National Office of Statistics the number of marriages in 2006 was the lowest number since 1895 when the population was half what it is now. Perhaps they've realised all those free minutes deals means they can afford the phone bills.
The bad thing about singleton texting is that a great deal of it is done late at night and usually when drunk. This is because married people (a) know who they're going home with and (b) don't start the night wondering if there's the possibility of sex later - because there isn't. Texting between married people is used only for pathetically straightforward purposes, such as: "Am in Tesco. Left list in ironing basket. What am I getting?"
Not, of course, that the single woman receives anything more interesting. On any given Saturday night, at around 10.30pm girls around the country will be receiving a text saying from a bloke they once slept with saying: "U out tonight?" By the way, I'd just like to point out that I cannot STAND text speak. There's hardly a mobile phone in the country that doesn't have predictive text, so use it. Please. Anway, back to the text. This is no innocent inquiry, this a blatant attempt to establish that their back-up shag is at least in the vicinity should the sender fail to pull later. It is what's known as the 'fishing text'.
I know I extol the virtues of being single but I will admit, at times it can be hard. Nobody to empty the bin for starters. And there isn't, apparently, any totty left for those of us sad saps the wrong side of, ahem, 40. This directly contradicts my own personal experience, which is, yes there is and I should know because I've had a lot of them, but nonetheless, there is definitely a shortage of suitable date material. Men over 40 can pull from a pool of women aged 25 and upwards. So the competition for anyone eligible is fierce.
In fact it is a rare and beautiful week when a Smug Married (yes I know Helen Fielding (hyperlink www.chicklit.co.uk/authors_helenfielding.asp) aka Bridget Jones coined the term) doesn't pull a regretful face and ask me pityingly: "Oh dear Gill; still not found anyone?" "I'm not even looking, ha ha!" I generally trill back with false bonhomie, "I'm perfectly happy as I am!"
And I am, really. I won't deny that the falling in love bit is wonderful. The tummy flips. The hours spent texting dreamily. The thrill of just being in each other's company. It's the falling out of love bit I can't stand. When it's not just their snoring but their breathing that annoys you. The misery of being left to survive on nothing but an overwhelming feeling of rejection. I don't want to get hurt again, but what do I do? Sit back and wait until the menopause, at which point I can breathe a sigh of relief and grow a beard?
Man alive, Smug Marrieds are boring. I left their world eight years ago and rarely do I dip into it these days. I was never particularly enthralled by the sound of a Boden catalogue plopping through the letterbox, or an Easter break involving four families, two holiday cottages and a mentally scarring journey to Pembrokeshire culminating in sitting on a damp beach pretending I don't mind my hair turning into a carpet-like fuzz in the inevitable drizzle. And I don't want friends known only as "The Hendersons" either.
No, not me, mate. My social life is far much fun. I like kicking around with a bunch of gays who at the drop of a feather boa don wig, wedding dress (don't ask) and war paint in order to belt out the Abba back catalogue in my kitchen. Although I don't think the neighbours share my enthusiasm. Do you like people who refer to wine as "the old vino"? Me neither.
In my opinion, those of my peers who remain married plighted their troth ridiculously young and barely have a few finger marks, let alone notches, on their bedposts. I'm not suggesting you have to sleep around to have a fulfilled life but I do, honestly, believe you shouldn't get married until you've had your sexual fun, because you'll have precious little once you've got that ring on your finger.
One of my every day aims in life is to avoid DIY. Another is to avoid pain, but unfortunately, like the song Love and Marriage, "you can't have one without the other." This postulate was almost disproved last Sunday afternoon while doing a bit of DIY demolition - trying to knock down an old garden wall. After ten minutes bashing away, one of my aims - to avoid pain, was still on target, but then a second later, another of my aims with a mash hammer, wasn't.
The only positive outcome of this is that I have increased my vocabulary by one, as I now know why a mash hammer is so called. The definition of 'mash' in my dictionary is 'to compress with violence out of natural shape or condition' and would have described my left thumb exactly, if it weren't hidden by gallons of spurting blood.
The pain was so excruciatingly intense it rendered me speechless. It also (as my wife will bear witness) turned my normally ruddy complexion into what Mr Dulux would describe as a brilliant white matt finish.
I sat down; I got up again, walked around the garden, sat down, and then got up again in a constant loop. I couldn't think, speak, or explain any of my actions. Pain focuses the mind on pain and every action becomes an involuntary response. I was obviously in a state of shock, but didn't know it.
Depending on which publication you read, It seems Ofsted, the government's schools watchdog has an annual spend of anything between 60 and ÃÂ£150 million of taxpayers money to enforce a "Target Driven" education strategy.
Armies of interfering Performance Managers with their massive budgets and salaries now test and monitor everything, formulate new strategies for literacy and numeracy and produce league tables to tell us what exactly? Little Johnny can't spell cannabis, but he knows where he can get some?
My personal experience of school taught me it is difficult to teach kids anything if they are inattentive, however well formulated the education strategy.