Thursday, 29 May 2008

Football, France, French Blockades and Golf!!

News Flash

New product release – Oracle Health Check, JoraScope – go and check the web site,


Football – European Cup in Moscow, Man U v Chelsea
I suppose it could be classed as a “turf war”, but poor John Terry should be given some sympathy for his little slip. How much that piece of sod cost must be unbelievable but I suppose that's what happens. My problem is coping with the two Man U fans employed by JoraPh it's difficult not to be part of the celebrations!

Championship Play-off Final – Wembley, Hull v Bristol City

Different! I wish Hull all the very best. I must admit though, having two brothers-in-law who are season ticket holders for Derby County, the fans should be realistic and pray for a Reading-like first season up there to have any hope of survival.

Div 1 Play-off Final – Wembley, Doncaster Rovers v Leeds United

My mate mark is a big, big Leeds fan and he is gutted! After ripping me apart about Carlisle he had to wait three days before he heard the immortal words of “you've said nothing about the football mate” from me. Even then I held him on a bit longer by saying how different and refreshing it is to see Hull going into the Premiership before giving just as much stick to him for Leeds losing – nice one Mark, good job we are mates!!

Bridge Inn and the "footballers" – a rant about ignorant idiots!

I had occasion to take a few drinks with Bob, my wife's brother, on the night of the Euro Cup Final. We had definitely had too much to drink, but thought it best to make sure and watch the match in The Bridge Inn, on of our regular haunts. The evening was going very well and I was having a discussion with 5 pro-soccer players in the pub who were at the National Sports Centre nearby for rehabilitation treatment after injury.
All was going really well when I fell for a cracker of a joke when one of them told me he was a gymnast. In fact, he and one other were “on the brink of selection for the British Team”. I asked them if they would sign my kids gym bags as both would be honoured if they could get their autographs. They agreed and I called my wife, who was by then already in bed, to get the bags, jump in the car and bring them to the pub. Naturally, she obliged, and after telling the kids what was happening, she drove down and called me from outside to get the bags. I presented the bags for signature and was confused by the first one as I thought his first name was Tim and he signed something else. As I realised the second was signing “Seymour Butts" I went nuts! I had explained very clearly that the bags belonged to children, one only eight years old – they thought it hilarious! I made sure (and some) that they understood what they were and had my wife take me home. Thankfully, I have a super friend in Bob who made sure the Irish footballer did not follow me outside to do what he threatened – I owe Bob a lot. These guys are disgusting and deserve a proper “smack” for their efforts. I have no issue with their jokes on me, I certainly took them on their word an fell hook-line-and-sinker for their ruse, but never for writing such things on kids kit will they get my forgiveness! These people should work hard to be role models for youngsters and I have raised the matter with the PFA and intend following up on this very soon.

The New Marathon – A French Tale!

I set off on a journey to France to shear two sheep for Phil Grice's sister, Jenny. Phil is head of consulting for JoraPh Consulting ( and he mentioned Jenny and her husband, Colin were having trouble finding someone to help. Being the son of a Cumbrian hill farmer, I volunteered to help. It is around 20 years since I used hand shears in anger and it was interesting to see what the first sheep looked like after the deed was done! I must say at this point that there cannot be too many Managing Directors of IT companies that can shear sheep - at least we can ride high in the novelty stakes!

The journey did not begin well, we got to Phil's house near Southampton OK but then found our fast ferry to Cherbourg was cancelled due to a blockade by fishermen on the latest French National Strike! The French and their way of crippling their own country are amazing. Our replacement ferry was not the super catamaran that flies over in one and a half hours, but one of the extra-large ships that takes around five and a half hours and generates enough noise to keep several British Parish Council Noise Inspectors happy for life! We arrived around 10:30 (late!) at night instead of 12:30 in the afternoon and poor Jenny drove us the hour and a half to their house near to Vier in Normandy. The worst was that it was raining – shearing sheep is virtually impossible in the wet!

Anyway, the animals needing a coiffure are two Scottish Mountain breed ewes - people will say they are cute things with a personality. I am more inclined to call them many other words! It all goes back to being brought up on a Lake District Hill Farm with a father who was well respected as a breeder of some of the best around. He did the work because, 1) he had to for the money, 2) he was very good at it and 3) he had no other trade. I helped because 1) I had to, 2) I had to and 3) you get the picture!

It took most of day for wool to dry out but I managed to shear the sheep in the afternoon. It was very hard work as they were not used to being handled and were difficult to catch – after staring them down it took some flying rugby tackles were needed to catch the beasts!

Anyway, only a few cuts resulted from the struggling and the work was made more difficult by the wool being quite matted, but it was done. I must admit that I'll never be a top hairdresser, but the sheep were very relieved to lose all that wool in the heat of Normandy!

After such a long time without any practice this was hard, hot work.

When it was over there was a considerable amount of wool left on the floor!

When it was over there were two very skinny looking sheep wandering round the field. They found how much they used to wear that night when we had a massive thunder storm though!

Of course we had lots of red wine and good food in the evening and were treated to either Colin or his daughter Kate, playing the piano. They are indeed a most talented family! Next day I cut the grass to try and help walk off the aching from so much physical activity and made a mental note that I must get fitter – and soon!
We had a massive thunder storm while over in France, the wheelbarrow was half-full of rainwater in the morning and only from a couple of hours of a storm. Several places in the South of England experienced flash floods at the northern edge of this storm – not nice.

So, after a job well done and having put enough units of red wine inside me to be on a government blacklist for binge drinking, we looked at our return journey. Phil called the ferry people who told him our ferry was cancelled due to the French fishermen doing more to stop the English than their forebears ever did to stop U-Boats! We were booked on another slow one from Caen and would need to be up early.

05:00 (UK Time) Tuesday: A very sorry looking Phiz stepped into the shower and tried to wake up enough to pack and get to the car. The ferry left at 09:00, so we needed to get moving. Jenny and Kate bravely faced the early morning and took us for a long wait on the Caen Peripherique – yes, you guessed it, more blockades! This time it was the Ambulance drivers and police who had decided it would eb good to gridlock Caen and hold everyone up! I must admit that I find it incredibly difficult to understand the mentality of people who, like firemen, nurses and doctors, answer a vocation to try and save lives, but then gridlock a town so badly – surely this must be against everything they stand for!
Anyway, what it meant for us was that we were able to stand at Ouistreham (Caen) ferry terminal and wave to the people enjoying our booked seats on the slowly departing ferry – not a nice feeling, especially as the next ferry was another eight hours wait!!

I got to see Bayeux for the first time and enjoyed a look at the beautiful countryside around the area while we lost some of those hours. Inevitably though, we sat and waited like all the other poor people who were suffering at the hands of the extreme action the French people seem to so enjoy.

The ferry docked early, an extraordinary event for this jolly shirt-break, and we were whisked to Phil's house by Val, his wife, to meet their new puppy – and sleep. Next morning at 06:00, with only just over 200 miles left to go, Phil and I set off in his car. He dropped me at Bicester train station (I now know that you need North Bicester station for Birmingham, not the other one!) and he continued to work in Cambridge. I got to Telford and my wife collected me and drove me home.

I now understand more about the irony of the film “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and how John Candy and the crew must have felt. This was more like a Cannonball Run comedy caper than we had expected, but nobody was hurt and the experience will probably be very “character building” as people say (what do they know!!!).


This month I am shamelessly promoting my mates beer – The Wylam Brewery, (, is a cracking little place near Heddon on the Wall. My “old” boss, John Boyle set up the brewery after retiring from Digital Equipment, with friend Robin Leighton. Robin is sadly no longer with us, but John has made sure the brew goes on and I can personally recommend the Gold Tankard after a small “teshtin seshiin” in the brewery tap the other week – excellent stuff!

Breaking News: Golf Latest: Phiz v Phiz, The Shropshire Golf Club, Telford, 29th May 2008

Our illustrious author is back on the course and hit a rubbish round at The Shropshire Golf Club this week, hitting a gross 107, net 83 playing against brother Mark. The nice thing was that we played off our respective handicaps and I managed to talk him round to playing even worse than me! The result was a win for the old boy and one to chalk on the wall for the next few months until we get chance to play again – thanks Mark!

Shropshire Gold & Blue 29/05/2008
David Phizacklea, handicap: 24, Gross Round 107, Net Round: 83 Stableford: 26
Mark Phizacklea, handicap: 11, Gross Round 96, Net Round: 85 Stableford: 22

Next Time

Young musician of the year at Burton Borough for Gina.
Update on Bob's house – it's a bit like the “Old Crooked House” (not the pub but the nursery rhyme!).

1 comment:

BuxtonMarauder said...

phiz.. this is multiple posts in one.. you need to break them up..

did I tell you I was once the proud owner of a BAGA Level 4 badge... want me to sign the bonnet of yer volvo ?

oh, and I like the new website