Monday, May 22, 2006

Would you believe it? The closure of Secession Books, a small independent bookshop just round the corner from the office, makes today's Guardian in an article wondering how the small bookshop can compete against supermarkets, Waterstone's and Amazon.,,1780436,00.html.

I picked up a couple of bargains myself in Secession's closing down sale a couple of weeks ago and was struck by the passion for his work of the young man that served me. He certainly wasn't to know that he was preaching to the converted and it was a joy to browse there, which can't always be said for Waterstone's on Milsom St.

Secession referred their customers to the Oldfield Park Bookshop in Bath and I'd urge all Bathonians to give it a go. There's something indescribably satisfying about browsing in a quality bookshop where the staff know their business and are happy to share their knowledge with you.

Last song on the iPod: Scott McKenzie - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)
Crikey, just returned from the selection meeting with the news that I shall be skippering the side in Thursday's cup tie with Dyrham and Hinton. Be very very afraid.....

Actually, the forecast for Thursday is terrible and I shall be amazed if we get a game but even so, I need to ring round half of the Chew Valley and then try to work out how we're going to get 11 players there! If we don't get a game, it will allow me to slope off early and attend the leaving do of the delectable Bekah, who is leaving the International jet-set to join her boyfriend in Glasgow. So a postponement will have its benefits!

Last song on the iPod: The Kinks - Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
After 15 years of fighting, bloodshed and atrocities too terrible to mention, the battle for a greater Serbia is over. Montenegro's vote for independence yesterday ends the dysfunctional union between Serbia and Montenegro and means that the last link to the country formerly known as Yugoslavia has ceased to exist.

The secessions of Slovenia, Macedonia and now Montenegro were relatively peaceful affairs. The wars to achieve independence for Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo were three of the most horrendous episodes since the Second World War.

On the positive side, if there can possibly be one from the misery that these conflicts have caused, it's that the Serbs can now focus on their own core republic and start to reform and rebuild their lives, both socially and economically. The peace-loving folk of Serbia, and they, surely, are the vast majority, deserve that opportunity.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Momus is no Arsenal fan but the news that Thierry Henry has signed a new contract with the Gooners is wonderful news for all sports fans in this country. Henry is a class act, both on and off the pitch and to have this master of his art ply his trade on these shores is an honour.

His equaliser against Spurs, that sublime flick of his right boot, remains my favourite goal of the season and he's arguably the best player to have played in this country. A good day for English football.

I daresay that Calliope isn't too upset at the prospect of four more years of Monsieur Henry on her TV screen either.........
Well, I didn't think it possible but those shadowy figures who manufacture car accessories have managed to come up with a product even more irksome than the ubiquitous 'Baby On Board' sticker. Every other car I see on the road at the moment has got those flippin' England flags stuck on the side windows. They're tacky and rubbish, if you didn't know!

Great viewing last night - we're not great TV watchers in the Victorian household but last night I caught a programme where Bristol's favourite presenter, Justin Lee Collins, had to get the three surviving actors from 'The A-Team' to meet up for the first time since the show ended. He did a similar type show re-uniting the actors from Grange Hill a few months ago and that was thoroughly watchable too.

The lads in the office raised their eyebrows at the news that I watched TV that they considered to be somewhat lowbrow for Momus but I simply explained that I'd watched the last of my stack of old editions of 'The South Bank Show'.....

Monday, May 15, 2006

My flight to Barcelona leaves in three hours - off to check out venues for our party there in October.

'I'm leaving on a jet plane. I don't know when I'll be back again....'

Actually, it's tomorrow at 1530 but you know what I mean - there's something slightly melancholic about hopping on a plane, I think it's because of the distances involved and the dangers inherent in flying. You can never be 100% sure that you'll come back home.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I've missed the last two games of the cricket season due to other engagements but we've now lost three out of three and are bottom of the league - an all too familiar feeling. We need to start winning soon to give us ourselves a chance of avoiding a second successive relegation. I'm back in the team for next Saturday, fingers crossed I can help the team.

A most enjoyable weekend, with Mrs Momus's Uncle Peter's 60th birthday party in the village hall last night followed by a barbecue at lunchtime today in glorious sunshine in the back garden. The Hill clan is closer than the Corleones and family occasions are always wonderfully social affairs, it was well past two in the morning when we called it a day. I vaguely remember promising to arrange a friendly cricket match between Compton House and Harptree and we've also agreed a 'Cousins Reunion' - the instigation of an annual event where the ten of us will meet up in a cottage somewhere in the UK and generally carouse until the early hours. Good times...

Last song on the iPod: Green Day - Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

In the same Observer magazine is a brief interview with the screenwriter Andrew Davies. His most noteworthy piece of advice to men is not to get divorced as 'it's a terribly expensive way to finish up with somebody you don't like any more than the first one'!!

It's an interesting thought. How many people are considerably happier over a long period of time in their second marriage than they were in their first? I wonder what the statistics are as to what percentage of second marriages survive?

I attended my cousin's wedding when he married for the first time some 15 years ago or so. Within five years, he was divorced. He married again soon after and he and his second wife seem extremely happy and now have a child together. So it does work out and had he followed Mr Davies' advice, he would still be with a woman he has since described as 'mental'!

I guess we must simply follow our hearts and do what feels right although one never forgets one's first love. Indeed, my good friend Nick and I were discussing first girlfriends just the other day and that brought the memories flooding back. The Lake District in the spring - mmm, happy days!
Interesting interview in last week's Observer magazine with actress Gillian Anderson, a long-term regular on the list of Momus' pin-ups. Nominated for a Bafta for her appearance in Bleak House, she lives in Notting Hill now and has just separated from her second husband. She comes across as extremely likeable but never really settled - she loves doing up houses and moving on, with Canada, California and London on her list of previous addresses.

She's 37 now and looks more stunning than she did when she shot to fame aged 24. If she ever does want to settle down - or even better, wants a companion to travel the world with her - I hope she knows where to find me!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

David Cameron, along with half the Parliamentary Labour Party if you believe the newspapers, has called for Mr Blair's resignation. I fear it may be wishful thinking on his part, at least for the immediate future . Although it's true that divided parties never win elections, I wonder if Labour's poor showing is more due to headlines about the NHS and schools, the fact that the Tories are showing something of a resurgence under a new leader, and the simple truth that the Government has been in power for nine years now and people see it as an opportunity to kick them - it was ever thus. I'm not remotely convinced that uncertainty about the timing of the handover is the reason for last week's council election losses.

Moreover, love him or loathe him, Mr Blair has proved himself the consummate political survivor on many occasions. If I were Gordon Brown, I wouldn't start measuring up No. 10 for curtains just yet.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Watched the Top 50 One-Hit Wonders last night. Usually, I avoid this kind of programme like the plague as they're normally packed with Z-list celebs, wannabes and never-weres, boasting about how they spotted the underlying drugs and sex related themes of children's TV from the start.

However, I had a feeling I might enjoy this particular trip down memory lane and I wasn't disappointed. Some great songs but also some trivia that I never knew. Who would have thought that Renato, from the great Renee and Renato, has a son running a restaurant in Birmingham where Renato regularly 'delights' the customers by belting out 'Save Your Love'? Renato is apparently his real name and that magnificent jumper in the video really belonged to him!! Renee's real name, however, is Hilary and she didn't want to be in the video so they found a vaguely similar looking girl and plonked a blonde wig on her! Even better, 'Aneka', who was No.1 nearly 25 years ago with 'Japanese Boy', which my sister loved, appeared on Top of the Pops in a suitably Oriental outfit but was really a doctor's wife from Scotland who was trained in singing Scottish folk songs!

The No.1 One-Hit Wonder was the inimitable Carl Douglas with 'Kung Fu Fighting' from 1974. Great scenes - that line 'in fact, it was a little bit frightening' never ever fails to tickle me....but the track doesn't quite make 'Momus' Top 5 One-Hit Wonders', in no particular order...

Toni Basil - 'Mickey' (1982)
'You take me by the heart when you take me by the hand'! And that cheerleader outfit in the video.....:-)

The Archies - 'Sugar Sugar' (1969)
Yes, I know they're a bunch of cartoon characters. But it's so catchy!

The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - 'I'm The Urban Spaceman' (1968)
It's mental but it's flippin' brilliant...

Grange Hill Cast - 'Just Say No' (1986)
OK, it's not a great song. Actually, it's rubbish and the video is terrible. But I was in love with Zammo's girlfriend Jackie, alright!!

The Knack - 'My Sharona' (1979)
Hey, it's about a boy who's dead keen on a girl and reckons some physical action would be, ahem, no bad thing. What's not to love??

Friday, May 05, 2006

And so it proved - indecisive and difficult to call. David Cameron can call it a victory of sorts with a strong showing in London but no progress at all in the north. Little to shout about for the Lib Dems, some tiny gains for the Greens (including their first seat in Bristol, good news) and the suspected gains in Essex for the BNP.

What odds on a new Home Secretary by end of play Friday?

Last song on the iPod: New Order - Run 2

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Steve McClaren will take over as the manager of the England football team from August. Oh. My. God.......
Local elections today in councils around the country (although not here in Mendip) and it's tricky to call. Psephology is a notoriously inexact science at the best of times and although Labour will do well to avoid an almighty kicking, it's difficult to see who will benefit. Will David Cameron's blue-green Conservatives do well? Apart from Mr C's new-found and very welcome conversion to the environmental cause, there's little other reason to vote for them right now. Lib Dems traditionally do well in council elections on the back of a protest vote but their recent troubles resulting in the leadership campaign means that Sir Menzies Campbell may not be celebrating either.

Is is too much to hope that Greens will see their vote rise as climate change embeds itself in the national consciousness? Sadly, I think it is - I just haven't seen them winning any coverage either on the televison or in the papers. So where will all the votes go - one shudders at the thought of a BNP success but it may not be out of the question in some of the more deprived wards. We'll see tonight and tomorrow morning.

Off to the Lakes tomorrow for the social event of the year - the wedding of Mr Jimmy McCheyne and Miss Lindsey Jung-Burton on Saturday. The highlight of the day for guests will surely be the three-hour jazz cruise around Windermere in the evening. Good luck guys.

Last song on the iPod: Billy Bragg and Wilco - California Stars

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Combe Down CC 252-3
Harptree Villages CC 137 all out
Combe Down won by 115 runs

As is so often the case, the murder took place in a delightful setting. In the Limpley Stoke valley, in the shadow of Brassknocker Hill, it took all of three hours for that carefully-engendered spirit of optimism and hope to fizzle out and drain away as we were comprehensively hammered by Combe Down.

I was first at the ground and was taking in the surroundings when I got the first inkling that it might not be our day. Three members of that 'strongest team available', selected so painstakingly seven days earlier, were conspicuous by their absence as the rest of the team made their way over the field. One of them, our best all-rounder, had broken his finger playing in a friendly on Saturday and is ruled out for some weeks.

From there, it all went downhill as we lost the toss and fielded first. I bowled my usual mixture of unplayable genius and total dross but had a couple of catches dropped off me, and managed to drop a sharp chance myself off my own bowling, which is heresy for a bowler! With those missing players though, we simply lack strength in depth and although we did well to restrict Combe Down, a strong batting side, to just 80-odd off the first 20 overs, they took full advantage of our lack of a 4th and 5th bowler by taking us apart in the second half of the innings to post 252-3. Our fielding was poor and it was an all too familiar story.

For us to get anywhere near 252, at least one person had to get a ton and when we lost our first three wickets for just 17, it was game over. I was promoted to no. 6 in the absence of our missing trio and I must admit I enjoyed myself, hammering four boundaries in a quick 24, the second top score, before getting a ball that kept low and cannoned into the bottom of my off stump. From there, the end was mercifully swift as the temperature had dropped alarmingly by 7.15pm.

About the only positive I can take from the game is my batting. After two winters of extra nets at Writhlington, I am clearly good enough to make runs regularly, which is encouraging. From the team's point of view, it's clear that we need our strongest team available every week to stand a chance of being competitive. That's unlikely to happen, I'm missing the next two games and the injury to the other Rich is a real blow. We need to get our younger players involved and get them to start contributing asap.

The one bright spot came as darkness fell. Our number 11 was practising whilst waiting for his turn at the crease and nudged the ball towards the river that runs around the ground. Chasing it, he overbalanced and finished up falling head first into the river in full kit, including his helmet! I never knew that a camera on a mobile phone would come in so handy! The end-of-year awards in November includes a 'Champagne Moment'. It's rare for the award to be clinched on the season's opening day! We won't let 'Poseidon' forget that one for a while.....

Last song on the iPod: Depeche Mode - Master And Servant