Friday, 30 April 2010


What's that about not being able to pick your family?  Never truer here, as the kinsfolk gather for maximum damage.  Gillian Duffy's niece, also called Gillian, has seen fit to comment. She said her aunt was "disgusted" and told the BBC:

"It's disgraceful. He's just shown his true colours. He's always trying to pretend to be so nice and in touch with the people but he's obviously not. I can see it anyway.  I don't like the man, to be honest*."

She said she can't really speak to anyone- something about lawyers, but she actually said she was disgusted by what he said.  She's a very strong-willed person and I don't think she'll accept the apology, to be honest*."

The grandmother was said to be working with PR advisers, that leech Max Clifford, last night, and has yet to make any comment on the PM's visit.  Clifford said:  

“The Tory press love this story. It would be worth £100 000 to The Sun or the Mail if she was prepared to be critical of Gordon Brown.”

Mrs Duffy's nephew, luckily not called Gillian but Andrew, added:

"It's a massive gaffe isn't it, what can you say? He's made a fool of himself really."

I wonder who is making the bigger fool of themselves now? Ghastly.  And why the need to use this redundant phrase*?  Tell you what, pet, don't be honest for a change...or is that already the case?

This Will Only Makes Sense to UK Viwers

What a great gag on YouTube, but as said, this will only really make any sense to the people familiar with the archaic traditions of British television, where BBC channels used to hand over to pages from Ceefax when they shut down for the night.  :o)

Don't Try This at Home, Kids

A German man who had his power supply cut off after not paying his bill, found a somewhat risky way to get reconnected.  He attached a cable to the meat hook, threw it onto the overhead power line and then drew power from the transmission line to his home, 150 metres away.

The man's scheme was only discovered after an employee of the utility company spotted the meathook during a routine check.  They commented in their typically humorous Teutonic manner:

"It's incredibly dangerous and utterly stupid.  It will kill you." 


Told You Australians are Paranoid

A man was told he could not take his dog Nudge into Adelaide's Thai Spice restaurant after his girlfriend asked if they could bring his guide dog into the restaurant.

The waiter thought that he was asking if gay dogs were allowed and denied them entry to the restaurant, which displayed a "guide dogs welcome" sign- even after they showed the staff a guide dog information card.

The restaurant were ordered by the Equal Opportunity Tribunal (they have these in Oz?) to pay the owner of the dog AU$1 500 (~£903) in compensation, even after a more than reasonable excuse was offered:

"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been de-sexed to become a gay dog." 


Anyway, presuming the burd wasn't blind herself, why did she even ask the question if the sign said it was OK?

Why the Delay?

The ban on air passengers carrying liquids in hand luggage will be lifted within two years, by April 2013, the European Commission has announced, but European airports will have to install new technology capable of detecting liquid explosives as a result of the move.

I just don't understand the need for another two year wait though.  If you have the equipment available, install it now.

One Advantage of Being Ahead of the Times

With the British elections taking place next week, when we are back in Bangkok, it actually works in our favour being GMT + 7.  We will be able to watch the proceedings throughout the night as things develop without losing any sleep.

Mind you, the programmes that cover these events are usually more than enough to make anyone fall asleep, irrespective of the time.

The Best of British

A calendar of Britain's most crazy but time-honoured festivals and events, from worm charming to dishcloth throwing, as per TTel.

Egg throwing

Winning Enjoy England's quirkiest events award this year was no yolking matter for the eggstroverts of one Lincolnshire village.
Swaton hosts a cracking, annual eggstravaganza that involves egg-catching, egg-and-spoon relays and machine-assisted egg-hurling – all for a good cause.
When: June 27
Where: Swaton, near Sleaford, Lincolnshire
Further information:

Worm charming

Fancy dress will be encouraged at the 29th International Festival of Worm Charming, where, inbetween maypole and morris dancing, participants scrabble around in a "secret" field, trying to envoke the ancient art.
Be warned though – any liquid poured on the ground must also be drunk to prove it won't harm the worms. Cider usually proves popular.
When: May 2
Where: Blackawton, Devon.
Further information:

Dwyle flunking

This pub game, where a soggy dishcloth is lobbed at a ring of players, traditionally takes place outside a tavern. It is a social highlight at the Lewes Arms in Sussex, where matches between pub regulars and the Lewes Operatic Society date back to the last century.

The dishcloth is fished from a bucket of stale beer with a stick, and then flung at someone in the circle. The doused person then takes his or her revenge as the thrower. 

When: August 29
Where: Lewes, Sussex.
Further information:

'Obby 'oss day

This strange celebration is rumoured to be the oldest dance festival in the country, possibly relating to a Celtic festival held in honour of the sun god Bel, who was thought to cause crops to grow and daylight hours to lengthen.
Inhabitants of Padstow dance to drums and accordions, and dress either in red or blue, depending on which 'Oss they support.
The Old 'Oss resembles a black horse and is prone to pulling women under its cape to portray a fertility rite. The Blue 'Oss represents peace.
When: May 1
Where: Padstow, Cornwall
Further information:


Visit The Bottle Inn in June and you could be enjoying some rather unusual bar snacks.
With its origins rooted in a "longest stinging nettle" competition – "If anybody beats that I'll eat it", someone once declared – this unusual event leaves entrants with unsightly black tongues but, thankfully, very few stings. Ale is on hand to wash down these particularly prickly mouthfuls.
When: June 19
Where: Marshwood, Dorset
Further information:

Haxey hood

Legend has it that this 700-year tradition began when Lady de Mowbray was out riding and a gust of wind blew off her hat. Some farm labourers set about retrieving it and she was so pleased that she named the person who handed it to her "Lord of the Hood". A man who had caught the hat but been too afraid to hand it to her was dubbed "The Fool".
On the Twelfth Night of Christmas the tussle is replayed, started by the Fool from a stone in front of Haxey Parish Church.

The Hood, a long leather cylinder, is thrown into the air to launch the proceedings. When it falls the participants try to rustle it out of the field and back to their favourite pub for a celebration and the honour of holding it for the coming year. The Lord of the Hood referees the match. 

When: January 6
Where: Haxey, north Lincolnshire
Further information:

Bog snorkelling

Held in Wales but attracting international competitors, this event appeals to those who like their sport a little bit dirty. Llanwrtyd Wells hosts not only a bog snorkelling triathlon but also a mind-boggling, world mountain bike bog snorkelling championship. The first can be an individual or team event, with two lengths of 60 yards spent swimming through filth. The second puts you deep in a 6ft bog on a specially adapted bike, with nothing but a mask and snorkel.
When: July 10 - 11
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales
Further information:

Cheese rolling

Synonymous with barmy British traditions, the Cooper's Hill event is now almost too popular for its own good, with 2010's competition cancelled after 15,000 people showed up in 2009.
The event, which dates back hundreds of years, sees crowds of participants chase a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese down a dangerously steep hill in a series of daredevil races. Broken limbs are not uncommon.
When: Last Monday in May
Where: Cooper's Hill, Gloucester
Further information:

Stilton rolling

A tamer, and somewhat less cheesy alternative, is the annual Stilton rolling held in the village of Stilton. Again, this tradition was the brainchild of a pub landlord who somehow fell on the idea midway through the 20th-century. A block of cheese-shaped wood is nudged along the road by single-sex teams who compete to be the first to push it over a finish line.
When: May 3
Where: Stilton, Cambridgeshire
Further information:

Shrovetide football

Every year locals take to the streets of Ashbourne to play an oversized football match where the entire town is the playing field. The game is thought to date from Elizabethan times. Those born on the north side of the river play against those from the south, with the two goals set three miles apart, where mill wheels once stood. To score, players must tap the ball three times against a marker board.
Shops board up their windows and cars are parked elsewhere as the resulting match becomes something of an unruly scrum. Only for the brave.
When: Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday
Where: Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Further information:


It's a Hairy World

Worldwide, 36 miles of hair grows every day.

Hitching a Lift

Brits are turning their backs on car ownership because of the soaring cost of motoring, according to new Government figures, which suggests the trend is due to the impact of spiralling fuel prices last year, during which the cost of filling an average tank rose by £10.

I'm not so sure it is that cut and dried.

Firstly, the cars themselves are too expensive.  Then you have substandard roads to drive on.  Next you have "safety cameras" shafting drivers who speed and finally, you have uncontrolled garages conning customers into unnecessary repairs.  And have I mentioned road tax and extortionate insurance premiums?

It makes you wonder why governments insist on bailing out car manufacturers.  Does the demand really make it justifiable?  It sure doesn't look like it to me.

We've been without a car for well over three years now and haven't missed it at all.  Of course, our circumstances are not usual, but even if we were still living in the UK, I reckon I could easily do without my own car.

A motorcycle on the other hand is entirely different.  That is a necessity.  :o)

Ascot Leads the Charge?

The racecourse most closely associated with English tradition yesterday marked the start of an experiment that could see betting odds being offered in decimal across the nation in the future.

Decimal betting works by stating exactly how much a punter stands to win for each pound staked. So a horse at 1.50 would generate £1.50 in winnings on a £1 stake, making things much clearer than 6-4, the traditional fraction expression of the same bet.

While this may be useful for electronic gambling on line, I can't see many die hards migrating to the new system.  It's just like pints and ounces; litres and metres are the norm and yet the older, more traditional measures hardly look likely to wither away just yet.

Pull the Other One

BBC executives would be unable to do their jobs if they were not allowed to fly business class, Alan Yentob, one of the corporation’s most senior directors has said.

The "creative" (and just what does he create?  Nowt much "creative on the Beeb nowadays, is there?) director, defended his claim for a business-class flight that cost licence fee payers £3 381, and said that bodies that review the BBC’s spending were stifling the corporation’s independence and creativity.

“I have been 40 years at the BBC and done quite a lot. I am quite a senior figure at the organisation. When I went to New York, immediately that I arrived I went to give a talk to an organisation. I was then filming in the afternoon. I then returned within about 24 hours to London to work straight away.

Now do you think I should have travelled economy to do that? Because I wouldn’t have been capable of doing the job. I am not quite capable of doing all those things at once.”

Aside from the not-so-creative, repeated use of "quite" (perhaps he was jet lagged?) and his general vagueness, I'm sure I could have given an outstanding interview if I had managed my time better.  How about I arranged my economy flight a day before hand and then took a reasonable room for the night to catch up on sleep before giving the interview?

That would have saved say, two and a half grand?

And as to feeling unable to go back to work on his return, what's wrong with delegating his work load if he's not so sharp after eight hours in the air?  It doesn't stack up, for me.  More at TTimes.

Funny, Isn't It?

That for the first time ever, we get an MP/PM telling the absolute truth and everyone wants him hanged.

We've since seen the video footage of the "interview" with the woman* and I'm surprised McBroon was so civil.  "Ignorant Racist" would have been entirely more appropriate.

I almost feel sorry for the chap, for as I have repeatedly said, I don't dislike him, it's his policies and party I can't abide.  As a blurk I think I even prefer him to Cameron who still leaves me feeling like I'm swimming in a pool of oil.

Next week beckons, bring it on.

*We've also since learned that she has now taken on a "publicist" for some obscure reason.  Doesn't that speak volumes?

Horse and Cart

Holiday-makers jetting off with airline Flybe can now take out insurance to cover them in the event of more volcanic ash incidents.  The firm has just launched a £6.99 insurance policy which promises to pay out if flights are cancelled or delayed for over 24 hours due to volcanic ash.

As part of the offer (which runs to 30th October) anyone left stranded abroad could claim up to £1 050 in reasonable expenses.  Those not able to get on their holiday could also claim up to £2 000 for any holiday costs they have already paid.

Excellent- One For Our Polish Friends

A new website from Tomus 

And for any non Polish speaking fans who want an inkling about what's going on, try here.  Good luck.  :o)

Surprise, Surprise

One in four English workers plans to pull a sickie to watch World Cup games this summer with just over nine people planning to skive for an average of 3.5 days.

That means between them footie fans will submit 31 850 000 excuses as they phone or text their boss and fake illness.  :o)  The most common excuses will be a dodgy stomach (28%), feeling sick (23%), and a headache (20%).

And it won't end there, two in five supporters plan on checking scores from behind their desk at work, for over 20 minutes a day.

Same old, same old.

Thanks to Tomus For This

Some people just have no taste...

Kiwi Smokers Not Happy

The Government is leading a crusade against tobacco and yesterday introduced a huge tax increase on all fag products- the first since 2000.

Cigarettes went up 10% on the spot and a pack will now set you back NZ$15.50, while hand rolling tobacco, shot up a whopping 24%!

Plenty of grumbles around these parts from the lung diseased fans...

In Front of the Times

They've been advertising the latest "Now That's What I Call Music" (or whatever it's called) on the TV.  They are up to volume 32.

I remember leaving the UK and they were on edition 100 +  Who says the Kiwis can't keep up with the pace?  ;-)

Laundry Time

It's not often once gets a laundrette in a hotel, certainly not in a chain hotels in the west, but here at Best Western, we have such a facility.  Two or three washing machine/driers, apparently and so we've just done the last load until we get back to Bangkok, next week.

Not overly cheap at NZ$ 4 per wash and NZ$3 per dry (plus powder) but convenient and no hassle as the closest machines were just one floor down; it saved a trip to a proper laundrette which is dead boring anyway.

Says A Lot

In 2007, George W Bush's approval rating in China was 17% higher than it was in the United States.  :o)  

And as we're talking about China and America, how's this for a tie in?

Click to Enlarge

Oh, Come On- This is FUNNY!

I was never going to get into Heaven anyway...  :oD


I've always wondered what it actually stood for, now I/we know:  International Business Machines (Corporation).

And the Other Way

 I seem to recall we did a post recently on how Europe sees America?  In the interests of being fair then, here's how the good old US of A sees us Europeans. 

Click to Enlarge

Over Rated

The information lost in the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria would fit on one DVD.

Not really quite so "great", is it then?

Silver Lining

Thailand extends tourist visa fee exemption scheme until 31 March 2011

BANGKOK: -- The Royal Thai Government has extended the tourist visa fee exemption scheme that had expired in March 2010. As a result of the decision, foreign citizens that qualify for a tourist visa are not subjected to a visa fee. The exemption scheme will be in effect from 11 May 2010 until 31 March 2011 (the fee exemption is not extended to other types of visas).

For further information please contact the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand (662-981-7171)or the Royal Thai Missions or visit Visas and Travel Documents webpage.

Source: Ministry Of Foreign Affairs, Bangkok 2010-04-29/Thai Visa Forum

That's going to save us a few quid next visit- we'll be back after our trip to Malaysia.  :o)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

No "U" Turn

A man was issued with a £60 fixed penalty notice and informed that he was committing a traffic offence for waiting on the zigzag markings of a pediestrian crossing outside his home in Cumbria.

On appeal, he said he was waiting for a break in the heavy traffic to reverse onto his property but the court upheld the fine and Carlisle Crown Court has now turned down his appeal.

His barrister said the decision "offended common sense", that someone was not allowed to reverse into his own drive.

The unfortunate chap was told by Dibble that he could have driven forward into the driveway but he argued that reversing out onto a main road was against the Highway Code and would have put himself and others in danger.

And he's right- reversing out onto a main road is against the law, so why did Plod tell him he could do so?

Don't you just love English legal disputes?

May the Force be With You

uzbekistan airways.jpg

Is this really the kind of slogan you want to see advertising for an airline?  It doesn't really inspire much confidence, does it?  :o)

Shame on Britain

I've long stated that pensioners should be excluded from paying income tax but as ever this falls on deaf ears.  Maybe when people read the figures they will become a little more compassionate?  I doubt it.

UK pensioners end up paying back a third of their income to the Government through taxes.

Income tax accounts for the biggest share of the money that is handed over to HM Revenue & Customs at nearly £1 500, followed by VAT, which costs an average pensioner household £1 229 a year.  Retired people also typically pay £874 in council tax and £542 through duty on tobacco, alcohol and petrol.

Overall, an average of 13.4% of retired households’ income is paid out in direct taxes, such as income tax, with a further 16.6% paid in indirect taxes, such as VAT, duty on tobacco, alcohol and petrol, and road tax and the TV licence.  Less well off pensioners pay out an even higher proportion of their income in tax, with the poorest fifth of retired households handing over 40% of their £8 390 income to the Government.

Isn't that disgraceful? 

Figures from TTel.

Green Day

The first St Patrick's Day "Parade" in New York City, held in 1766, was actually a pub crawl that lasted about 12 hours, during which the approximately 5 000 participants had an imperial pint of ale at each of 14 different saloons.

That's impressive.

Looking Good

Weather for Bangkok, Thailand

26°C | °F
Current: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: NE at 6 km/h
Humidity: 83%
Chance of Rain
34°C | 27°C
Partly Sunny
35°C | 28°C
Partly Sunny
38°C | 27°C
Chance of Rain
37°C | 28°C

Bank Hols in the UK

May was always one of our favourite months as it contains two public holidays (and if any New Zealanders are reading this, no, they do not load up cafe/restaurant/bar bills with a 15% surcharge for working).  It was always a time when we used to travel across to the Isle of Man for the Riddlers hockey tournament and of course, the TT bike racing.

Usually, it also meant the onset of nicer weather; a bit milder and perhaps even the odd ray of sun.  Think again...

Most of the country was bathed in sunshine yesterday with temperatures reaching as high as 22 C– far higher than the seasonal average of 15 C, but before everyone starts planning barbecues for the Bank Holiday, forecasters have warned that cloudy weather will return and temperatures will plummet by the end of the week.

Low pressure means that temperatures for most of Britain over the weekend will drop to around 13 C exacerbated by cool northerly winds and light rain, but it may get better thereafter as higher temperatures and sunshine may return for the start of the working week.

I wonder what Bangkok is likely to be?  ;-)

But TAT Not Happy

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has criticised the Foreign Office for advising against travelling to the south-east Asian country. 

Yesterday, the Foreign Office’s advice that Britons should avoid all but essential travel to Bangkok was extended to the whole of the country, where at least 26 people have been killed and nearly 1,000 have been hurt in anti-government clashes.
The decision leaves hundreds of holidaymakers with little choice but to cancel or postpone their trips, even if they are not travelling to Bangkok, where the vast majority of protests have occurred.
The TAT and the Royal Thai Embassy have requested a meeting with the Foreign Office tomorrow morning to discuss removing the blanket warning.

“We accept the advice against travelling to Bangkok,” said a spokeswoman for TAT. “Although the protests are not aimed at tourists, there is major disruption. But we do believe it is excessive to advise against travel to the rest of the country.”

She added that a number of independent travellers were continuing to arrive in the country, despite the Foreign Office’s warning. However, Abta, the travel association, today warned that travel insurance policies would not cover those who had gone to Thailand aware of the Foreign Office’s advice.

Andrew Marshall, a journalist based in Bangkok, described the Foreign Office’s decision as “absurd”.“The number of protestors is diminishing, and they are always found in just one part of the city,” said Mr Marshall. “Incidents outside Bangkok have been going on for weeks, so I can’t understand why the Foreign Office have now changed their advice.

It’s sad for the Thai people, who rely heavily on tourism, and would never wish to hurt holidaymakers,” he added. “I would happily send my mother out here and just tell her to keep an eye on the news reports.

Package holidaymakers scheduled to travel to Thailand are advised to contact their tour operator. Kuoni, the luxury holiday specialist, has said it will not allow any of its customers to press ahead with their travel plans. It is permitting holidaymakers to rebook their trips on alternative dates or cancel their holiday without charge.

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said that all customers with package holiday bookings would have to rearrange their trips, or cancel them free of charge. Those passengers with flight-only bookings would be able to travel, she said, although they will be advised not to.

Sledgehammer/peanut.  Not clever and I hope the FO do a bit more research.  From TTel.

The FO Advises

Asia and Oceania


Flag of Thailand
Still current at: 28 April 2010
Updated: 27 April 2010

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Summary and the Terrorism and Security section. The overall level of the advice has not changed on; we currently advise against all but essential travel to the whole of Thailand.

Yeah, right.  We'll be there next week, chaps and really looking forward to our stay.

Kuta Cowboys

Indonesia has detained 28 young men accused of selling sex at the resort after the release of a trailer for a documentary on Bali’s “Kuta cowboys”. Cowboys in Paradise follows the lives of several beach boys, their families and their female patrons.

A council spokesman said that 28 people had been detained for not having proper identification or “for disturbing the peace or security of our beaches”.

We were there in January and didn't notice anything like this.  The closest I saw of any "under the table" deals was being offered some marijuana on the beach.  I didn't accept.

In the Red Corner

It doesn't take long, does it?  :o)

From Humble Pie to Pi

In 1972, Amir Hamadan held the world's record for the most memorized digits of three separate transcendental numbers: pi, e, and Chaitin's constant.

I bet he's the centre of attention at parties.

What Labour Really Thinks

Gordon Brown has been caught unawares calling a Labour-supporting pensioner who confronted him on the election campaign trail a "bigot".

Gillian Duffy, a 66-year-old widow, told the Prime Minister that she was concerned about immigration from Eastern Europe.

Mr Brown chatted to her for five minutes and appeared to end the conversation amicably, telling her she came from a "good family".

But he was unaware that his microphone was still on as he got into his car and sped away, and was heard berating his staff for allowing the encounter.

He told an aide: "That was a disaster. Should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that?"

When the aide said they did not know who was responsible, the Prime Minister snapped: "ridiculous".

His companion suggested that television crews who filmed the encounter, in a residential street in Rochdale, would not broadcast it.

But Mr Brown said: "They will use it."

The aide asked what Mrs Duffy had said, and Mr Brown replied: "Everything. She's just a sort of bigoted woman who says she used to be Labour." 

It's all coming apart and the pressure is beginning to show.  Is this what we want for Britain?  More at TTel.

Mind you, if she was concerned about Eastern Europeans coming into the country, McBroon was entirely correct and she is a bigot.

Oh, Dear...

From TTimes:

Thai soldiers reportedly killed one of their own comrades today in a chaotic confrontation with anti-government Red Shirt protesters which left at least ten people injured and brought further embarrassment to the Government of the Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Associated Press reported that Thai security forces fired on a group of motorbike-riding soldiers, apparently believing them to be demonstrators embarked on a protest procession along a Bangkok highway. After several of the motorbikes crashed, one of the soldiers was taken to hospital with a head injury, where, according to Thai media, he later died.

The incident occurred after about 2,000 Red Shirts, who are demanding that Mr Abhisit resign and call a snap election, left their rallying point in the centre of Bangkok in a convoy of pick-up trucks and motorbikes. The security forces attempted to stop them on a road passing through the city’s northern suburbs, close to the former international airport.

An advance party of about 100 demonstrators was stopped by a line of soldiers who began by firing into the air and attempting to disperse the crowd with shields and truncheons. After the Red Shirts responded with stones and sling shots, they began to fire directly at the crowd.
It was not immediately clear whether they were using blank, rubber-tipped, or live rounds. An army spokesman suggested that troops would not be discriminating in choosing between live and non-lethal rounds. “At this point, there is too much chaos for anybody to constantly report what kind bullets they are using,” Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd said. “We brought force out to stop them. At this point, society finds it unacceptable to have protesters travelling in a motorcade like this. We try our best to prevent losses.”

Twenty-seven people have died in the violence so far, and close to 900 have been injured, most of them on April 10, when soldiers made a disastrously botched attempt to seize one of the Red Shirt strongholds. Since then, they have fallen back to the Ratchaprasong area, a district of five-star hotels, shopping centres and expensive shops, most of which have been closed indefinitely by the protest encampment blocking the streets.

The authorities promise to clear the area under special powers granted under an ongoing state of emergency. The Red Shirts, who have shed their distinctive colours to make themselves less recognisable, live in constant expectation of a second crackdown which, so far, has not come.

Suthep Thuangsuban, Mr Abhisit’s deputy in charge of security, said: “It is clear the protesters are not gathering peacefully. We will not be lenient with these people any more.”

But in an interview with CNN, Mr Abhisit, suggested that they would choose their moment. “We recognise that as every day passes by, the people of Thailand suffer, the country suffers, but we want to make sure that there is rule of law,” he said. “We will try to enforce the law with minimum losses and we will try to find a political resolution, but it takes time, patience and co-operation.”

ICC World Twenty20

I hope we can get coverage in Thailand but rather suspect we have zero chance.  Still, for those that love their cricket, a good piece by the BBC on the teams:

The cut and thrust world of Twenty20 heads to the Caribbean as the world's best cricketers take refuge for sun, sea, sand and sixes.

The third edition of the ICC's World Twenty20 competition marks a significant point in cricket's history with the very first appearance of Afghanistan at an international event.
"Dale Steyn will be no problem," said all-rounder Karim Sadiq, whose team are matched up with inaugural champions India and South Africa in Group C.
This year's tournament is as open as ever, with most of the major Test-playing nations capable of wresting the trophy from the beleaguered fingers of Pakistan.
BBC Sport runs the rule over the 12 teams.
Group A: Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan
Group B: New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe
Group C: Afghanistan, India, South Africa
Group D: England, Ireland, West Indies

Nawroz Mangal
"I read their opener (Karim Sadiq) said he was not scared of facing Dale Steyn. I wouldn't be either if I grew up in a war zone," said South Africa captain Graeme Smith.

Afghanistan's progress from the bottom rung of the World Cricket League to the top tier is nothing short of astonishing , but even the most eternal optimist could never envisage beating either India or South Africa.
That said, the Afghans will use the occasion to show the rest of the world the progress they are making away from the political maelstrom.
Among their brightest prospects is wicketkeeper/batsman Mohammad Shahzad, who recently smashed a breath-taking 214 as Afghanistan chased down an incredible 494 for victory against Canada at the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
Captain Nowroz Mangal bowls tidy off-spin and bats in the middle order, while Mohammad Nabi has a penchant for the big shots, while the rest will use the opportunity to show the world what they are all about.
Six hitters: Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Nabi
Death bowler extraordinaire: Mirwais Ashraf
Toe-cruncher: Shapoor Zadran
Spin to win: Samiullah Shenwari, Nowroz Mangal
One to watch: Mohammad Shahzad
What happened in 2009?: Did not play
Squad: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Rais Ahmadzai, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Mohammad Shahzad (wkt), Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shinwari, Noor Ali, Asghar Stanikzai, Shahpoor Zadran, Shabir Noori, Saeed Nasrat, Shafiqullah Shafaq.
Michael Clarke
Losing a home series for the first time in 16 years to South Africa, surrendering the Ashes less than two years after winning them back and sandwiched in between was an unceremonious exit from the group stages of last year's World Twenty20.
For Ricky Ponting, 2009 was something close to an annus horribilis as possible in Australian cricket.
Ponting has since handed over the Twenty20 captaincy to Michael Clarke, who has some of the fastest bowlers in world cricket at his disposal; Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes, who was part of the Netherlands side that dramatically beat England at Lord's in last year's tournament.
Out go Andrew Symonds and James Hopes and in come uncapped all-rounder Dan Christian and Steve Smith, the leg-spinner who impressed during New South Wales' victory in the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League last year.
The Australians are in good shape under Clarke - they have only lost one international Twenty20 in five matches.
Six hitters: Cameron White, David Warner, David Hussey, Mitchell Johnson
Death bowler extraordinaire: Shaun Tait
Toe-cruncher: Dirk Nannes
Spin to win: Nathan Hauritz
Best fielder: Michael Clarke
One to watch: Steve Smith
What happened in 2009?: First-round exit
Squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Mohammad Ashraful

While their Test form shows continual signs of improvement, Bangladesh's Twenty20 progress has gone in the opposite direction.
In the last 12 months, the Tigers have played four short-form matches - and lost all of them, including a six-wicket defeat by Ireland in last year's tournament.
The components are there - the wily darts of captain Shakib Al Hasan, the destructive batting of Tamim Iqbal and the consistency of all-rounder Mahmudullah.
But the sum of their parts has yet to add up to its potential. And with Australia and Pakistan to contend with, it could be another first-round exit for the Tigers.
Six hitters: Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal
Death bowler extraordinaire: Shakib al Hasan
Toe-cruncher: Mashrafe Mortaza
Spin to win: Shakib Al Hasan
Best fielder: Tamim Iqbal
One to watch: Mahmudullah
What happened in 2009?: First-round exit
Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Ashraful, Aftab Ahmed, Naeem Islam, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Syed Rasel, Suhrawadi Shuvo, Jahurul Islam (wk)
Paul Collingwood
After the ignominy of losing to the Netherlands on the opening match of last year's tournament at Lord's, England will hope for a better start this year in their first match against hosts West Indies.

In come six new faces from 2009, including destructive opener Craig Kieswetter, the South Africa-born Somerset wicketkeeper who battered England's bowlers to all parts of Abu Dhabi playing for the second string.
Hampshire's Michael Lumb, who impressed for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, is another to be rewarded for his big-hitting exploits at the top of the order, while all-rounders Ajmal Shahzad and the recalled Michael Yardy raised eyebrows with their selections.
None of England's bowlers featured in this season's IPL, which puzzled Kevin Pietersen , and their relative lack of experience could be exposed against the better teams.
But with a dynamic new opening partnership and Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and the experience of Paul Collingwood in the middle order, England's batting line-up looks the strongest it has ever looked in Twenty20 cricket.
Six hitters: Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright
Death bowler extraordinaire Tim Bresnan Toe-cruncher: Ryan Sidebottom
Spin to win: Graeme Swann
Best fielder: Paul Collingwood
One to watch: Craig Kieswetter
What happened in 2009?: Super Eights
Squad: Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

The inquisition was thorough after India's exit in last year's tournament - another failure will not be tolerated.
However, the 2007 champions still boast the best and biggest-hitting batting line-up in the tournament - even without Virender Sehwag.
Remove Rohit Sharma or Gautam Gambhir and in comes Mahendra Singh Dhoni, followed by Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan or Suresh Reina.
But while the batting intimidates, the bowling is hardly the stuff of nightmares, especially the dwindling seam ranks.
With no Ishant Sharma or Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar will burden the pace-bowling responsibilities, while Harbhajan Singh and the recalled Piyush Chawla will provide thrust in the spin department.
Still capable of beating the world's best, India are equally capable of losing matches they should not lose.
Six hitters: Mahendra Dhoni, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh
Death bowler extraordinaire: RP Singh
Toe-cruncher: Ashish Nehra
Spin to win: Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla
Best fielder: Suresh Raina
One to watch : Rohit Sharma
What happened in 2009?: Super Eights
Squad: Mahendra Dhoni (capt & wk), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Vinay Kumar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla.

Will Porterfield

Ireland secured their second World Twenty20 appearance with a defeat against Afghanistan in the qualifier finals, so not too many tears were shed in Dubai in February.
Like their football team, Ireland are solid if unspectacular. The fireworks at the top of the order are provided by Niall O'Brien, the diminutive Northants left-hander with the ability to clear the ropes with a flick of the wrists.
Brother Kevin can clear the ropes with ease, as can Paul Stirling, a strapping 19-year-old on the books with Middlesex who smashed 84 against Kenya in only his fourth one-day international.
Former West Indies opener Phil Simmons has turned them into a slick fielding unit while the experience of Trent Johnston and the sharp pace of Boyd Rankin lead the bowling attack.
Ever-improving, but not still not enough to make the semi-finals.
Six hitters: Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien
Death bowler extraordinaire: Trent Johnston
Toe-cruncher: Boyd Rankin
Spin to win: George Dockrell
One to watch : Paul Stirling
What happened in 2009?: Super Eights
Squad: William Porterfield (capt), Andre Botha, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Gary Kidd, John Mooney, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien (wk), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (wk).

Daniel Vettori

The enigma that is the always fancied, never-quite-delivered New Zealand could make as many compelling reasons for why they will win their second ICC tournament as why they won't.
From their seven Twenty20 matches in the past 12 months, the Black Caps have twice beaten Sri Lanka, twice lost to Pakistan and beaten Australia and Bangladesh, along with one tie.
Varied to say the least. This year sees Shane Bond return to give the bowling attack a vital injection of pace, while Martin Guptill has matured at the top of the order.
Skipper Daniel Vettori remains the most effective one-day spinner in Twenty20 cricket and, throw in Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram and Ross Taylor, you have a team very capable of winning the tournament. Or not.
Six hitters: Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram
Death bowler extraordinaire: Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori
Toe-cruncher: Shane Bond
Spin to win: Daniel Vettori
Best fielder: Ross Taylor
One to watch : Tim Southee
What happened in 2009?: Super Eights
Squad: Daniel Vettori (capt), Brendon McCullum (wk), Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Scott Styris, Aaron Redmond, Jacob Oram, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Rob Nicol, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Shane Bond, Ian Butler.

Shahid Afridi
With more twist and turns and back-stabbing politics than an episode of The Thick Of It, Pakistan cricket sunk to its lowest nadir in March.

Out have gone World Twenty20-winning captain Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, banned indefinitely, while Rana Naved and Shoaib Malik are suspended for 12 months following the Pakistan Cricket Board's investigations into the internal wranglings which decimated the abysmal tour to Australia at the end of last year.
Meanwhile, new captain Shahid Afridi, and the Akmal brothers, Umar and Kamran, were all been placed on probation. You just can't make this stuff up.
But, even without their two most experienced batsman, Pakistan still have the strength in depth to defend their title in the Caribbean.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, the joint leading wicket-taker in England last year, remains, while the free-flowing Umar, with the revitalised Salman Butt, Abdul Razzaq and "Boom Boom" Afridi could tear any bowling attack to shreds at a moment's notice.
A shoulder injury has deprived Pakistan of fast bowler Umar Gul, arguably the best death bowler in world cricket, as well as the experience of Yasir Arafat.
But don't even bother predicting how they will perform - not even the Pakistani players have a clue.
Six hitters: Shahid Afridi, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal
Death bowler extraordinaire: Mohammad Aamer
Toe-cruncher: Mohammad Aamer
Spin to win: Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi
Best fielder: Fawad Alam
One to watch : Umar Akmal
What happened in 2009?: Winners
Squad: Shahid Afridi (capt), Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Khalid Latif, Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad Alam, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Hammad Azam, Kamran Akmal (wk),Mohammad Sami, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Aamer, Saeed Ajmal.

Graeme Smith
Always the perennial bridesmaid whenever an ICC tournament rolls into town, the South Africans are long overdue their moment of glory.
Knocked off their double perch as the world's best Test and one-day team this year, a World Twenty20 title would pacify the restless authorities.
The spine of the team remains as robust and intimidating as ever; Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn.
And in between are the boundary-clearing antics of Albie Morkel and Herschelle Gibbs, as well as the newer, greener faces of Rory Kleinveldt and Juan Theron - two more to roll off the infinite all-round conveyor belt.
Their talented is undoubted - their ability to deliver at the highest stage is not.
Six hitters: Albie Morkel, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs
Death bowler extraordinaire: Juan Theron, Albie Morkel
Toe-cruncher: Dale Steyn
Best fielder: AB de Villiers
Spin to win: Roleof van der Merwe, Johan Botha
One to watch : Rory Kleinveldt
What happened in 2009?: Semi-finals
Squad: Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis (vice-captain), Lungile "Loots" Bosman, Johan Botha, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Herschelle Gibbs, Rory Kleinveldt, Charl Langeveldt, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Juan Theron, Roelof van der Merwe.

Kumar Sangakkara
Despite the loss of Chaminda Vaas, last year's beaten finalists boast the most experienced line-up in the tournament.
Although the tournament is likely to be Muttiah Muralitharan's last, the experience of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga is balanced by the relative inexperience of off-spinner Suraj Randiv, along with the uncapped pair Dinesh Chandimal and Thissara Perera.
And the man who masterminded their 1996 World Cup win, Sanath Jayasuriya, is still smashing sixes to all parts of the park - even at the ripe old age of 40.
Still smarting after last year's defeat in the final at Lord's, the Sri Lankans have match-winners sprinkled all over the line-up.

Six hitters: Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Jehan Mubarak
Death bowler extraordinaire: Muttiah Muralitharan
Toe-cruncher: Lasith Malinga
Best fielder: Tillakaratne Dilshan
Spin to win: Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Suraj Randiv
What happened in 2009?: Finalists
Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan (vice-capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Thissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekera, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Chanaka Welagedara, Chamara Kapugedara, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chinthaka Jayasinghe.

Chris Gayle
Although not quite on the same scale as the Pakistani implosion, West Indies have suffered from the effects of internal politicking to the detriment of their on-field results.

An uneasy detente has seen the likes of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jerome Taylor and Denesh Ramdin return, along with a recall for Wavell Hinds, who made his one and only Twenty20 appearance more than four years ago.
But West Indies boast the discovery of the year - the raw, unnerving pace of Kemar Roach who, along with Darren Sammy, remain from the "B" team that surrendered so meekly in the Test series defeat at home to Bangladesh last year.
Much will depend on Chris Gayle's mood - if he wants it, he is impossible to stop. And Kieron Pollard is a solid all-round unit, persuading Mumbai Indians to shell out $750,000 for his services.
Last year's tournament, where they reached the semi-finals, showcased their potential, but a huge question mark hangs over their temperament.
Six hitters: Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard
Death bowler extraordinaire: Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard
Toe-cruncher: Fidel Edwards
Spin to win: Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller
Best fielder: Dwayne Bravo
What happened in 2009?: Semi-finals
Squad: Chris Gayle (capt), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Andre Fletcher, Wavell Hinds, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor.

Prosper Utseya
From its lowest ebb, Zimbabwe cricket is slowly reacquainting itself with international cricket.

The introduction of Alan Butcher as coach, along with the return of experienced players like wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu, spinner Ray Price and all-rounder Andy Blignaut has given the African nation a much-needed boost.
The slower Caribbean pitches will suit Zimbabwe's slow bowling attack, offering plenty of variety through left-armer Price, leggie Graeme Cremer and off-spinners Greg Lamb, who has prospered since returning to his homeland after five seasons with Hampshire, and skipper Prosper Utseya.
Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura can hit a long ball while Charles Coventry, who recently lost his record for the highest one-day international individual score to Sachin Tendulkar, has the potential to dent the better bowling attacks in world cricket.
Zimbabwe will draw strength from their shock victory over Australia in the 2007 tournament, but they will struggle to beat New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Six hitters: Charles Coventry, Hamilton Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura
Death bowler extraordinaire: Andy Blignaut
Toe-cruncher: Andy Blignaut
Spin to win: Ray Price, Greg Lamb, Prosper Utesya, Graeme Cremer
Best fielder: Graeme Cremer
One to watch: Charles Coventry
What happened in 2009?: Did not play
Squad: Prosper Utseya (capt), Brendan Taylor (wk), Charles Coventry, Andy Blignaut, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Greg Lamb, Elton Chigumbura, Vusi Sibanda, Ray Price, Graeme Cremer, Chamu Chibhabha, Chris Mpofu, Timycen Maruma, Craig Ervine.

Three Bar Blues

275x250.jpgOne of the oldest whisky brands in the world has been given re-brand after Francis Rossi, the lead guitar with Status Quo, invested in the company.

Glen Rossie, which dates back to 1814, will now come in bottles featuring a plectrum-inspired label and logo in homage to its new guitar-playing Chairman. 
Rossi first heard of the brand ten years ago and has since ensured a bottle was on the tour bus whenever the band were playing.  When the opportunity to invest in the company came along, he jumped at the chance and it looks like it could well be a good partnership.  Good luck to them both.

Expensive Time

American customs officials have used a steamroller to destroy around 7 000 fake Rolex watches- as a warning to other counterfeiters.

The dodgy timepieces, worth millions if real, were seized as part of a counterfeit goods investigation which saw the manufacturer sentenced to six years in federal prison for creating the fakes.  It's believed the man fabricated hundreds of thousands of counterfeit Rolex watches in a Philadelphia factory, which also resulted in him ordered to repay $2 273 000 to Rolex.

Utterly Pathetic

A company has launched a range of "bejewelled butt crack shields" which are designed to be worn at the rear of low-riding jeans. The makers say the Backtacular Gluteal Cleft Shield can solve the problem of unsightly bum cracks appearing over the top of jeans and they will set you back eight quid for the privilege.

The odd product is applied to the skin in a bid to protect the modesty of the wearer, in the event their jeans slip down and their t-shirt ride up.

Alternatively, those with less than moderate thinking processes could perhaps just buy a pair of jeans that fit?


Contact with a Barbie doll is more likely to cause sickness than contact with a toilet seat.

I can entirely believe that.


OK, that worked and so we can all ignore the last two posts...

Test- Posting Remotely

For no other reason than we can, I just want to try posting from our iGoogle page. Unlike posting from Gmail when we're off line, I can't see the point of this gadget, for if we can access this page, we must be connected to the internet and so can post directly on the Blog.

Still, a new toy, etc...

Interlude For More Cute

Following the recent earthquakes in China, it's not just the people who are in danger, animals are also affected.  Here the pandas get a helping hand- but I wonder who assists the uglier/dangerous ones?  Pictures via the old man- thanks:

And that's the last of the "coo" piccies for a while, what with seals and pandas.  More than enough, thank you very much.