SNOOKER: Trump vs. Williams, 2022 Semi-Final

The match started in good sportsmanlike style.

‘Oozing class’, ‘a marvellous match… a Crucible classic’, ‘one of the best matches we have ever seen’. So sayeth the pundits, of this match. And i’sooth, it’s all true. ‘Twas absolutely fab!

Trump opened up a blistering and dominant 12-5 lead, only to have Williams, ‘the Welsh potting machine’, come roaring back at him. Some sublime snooker from both of them took us to the brink.

At 16-15 in Williams’ favour, the humbly eccentric former boxer looked poised to deliver one of the greatest sporting comebacks ever. But Trump dug in, or went to the well as they say, and took it to 16-16.

A standing ovation prior to frame 33.

The decider was a terrific frame, by far the longest of the match, clocking in at about 45-50 minutes. Both players had chances. And in the end there was a long safety duel, as Williams tried to beat the ‘astronomical odds’; he needed three or four snookers (and he laid a good few more than that).

But in the end, Trump triumphed by potting the blue. What an epically exhausting but exhilarating match. One for the ages.

What it meant to Judd.

SNOOKER: Sullivan vs Williams, ‘23 Masters

Ronnie seemed unstoppable.

I didn’t see half as much of the recent Masters Snooker tournament as I’d have liked. But I did catch a few matches. Some, like the Trump vs Bingham semi, were quite dull. Even excruciating at times!

I’d heard the pundits mention that this one, O’Sullivan vs Williams, was a good ‘un. So I thought I’d check it out. I wasn’t disappointed.

‘The best shot so far this afternoon’, quoth Dennis Taylor, as Ronnie pocketed the above pictured long red, clean as the proverbial whistle. This quarter final clash of two snooker Titans, both legends in their own lifetimes, lived up to its billing. Quite a rare thing, I find.

Williams, as funny a player as this face suggests.

Mark Williams is, as any Snooker fan will know, an oddball. Perhaps ironically, being one of the best ‘single shot’ snooker players ever makes him a formidable break builder. A lot of the time he favours floating the balls into the pockets, ‘dead weight’. And this slow measured approach means that sometimes you might forget how good his technique is.

The contrast with Ronnie’s more attacking and aggressive flair makes for a great pairing. And both are super canny, and can, as Hendry likes to observe, be as hard as granite in freezing other players out. Both have superlative Snooker brains, often seeing things others wouldn’t.

This match was great. Perhaps the best of the tournament? Ronnie looked unbeatable at the outset. But Williams turned the tables on him. Both showed how, sometimes, just one mistake can be super costly.

Williams took ages over this shot!

The match reached a final 11th frame decider, and – after a typically gonzo one-armed off the cushion shot (missed!) – Williams played the ‘best shot in this wonderful match’ (Taylor) – pictured above – which had Hendry frothing: ‘magnificent, absolutely magnificent!’

I love Snooker. I find it very relaxing. And I particularly enjoy a really great match, like this: two players playing at the top of their game. Williams finished with a total clearance. Fab!

MiSC: Sore Throat, Tough Work, Crap Snooker… What a Day!

IGAS cases…

I’ve had a sore throat for a few days now. Symptoms are very Strep A like, and I believe that’s running amok in the UK. Teaching in schools, I guess, may make me more likely to be exposed? It seems more virulent amongst the very young. And I teach in two primary schools.

But I can’t find any particularly helpful maps of known cases. Something I thought might shed light on whether this might be Strep A or something else. And then there’s the various varieties: Strep A, Scarlet Fever and IGAS may all be caused by the same bacteria, but (I believe?) each manifests in slightly differing ways. So, for example, I don’t have any rashes, so I don’t have Scarlet Fever.

… and Scarlet Fever.

But without proper medical advice – ironically I had an over-50s NHS health check last Monday, before I got this damned sore throat – which is increasingly hard to get as the Tories grind the NGS into the ground, how do I know what’s causing it, or indeed even what ‘it’ is!?

BTW, the info-graphic map images I’ve used here are from my researches, and usually the webpage (if not always the image itself) adds more info, such as when the statistics were gathered, or the time period they cover, etc.

I guess I was after this sort of thing, for our area.

What I really wanted was a map with ‘pins’, something rather like the above image, but showing cases in my living/teaching zones. Maybe then it’d be easier to see if there were recorded cases where I’m teaching, for example? Anyhoo, calling 111 has (so far) got me nowhere.

Teresa and I are back to childminding at my sister’s. And we’ve been roped into an extra night over, as my mum backed out of her usual Sunday commitment. She did so partly due to dad having Covid (so I hear!?), and me having this sore throat.

I also booked two Amazon delivery shifts: one today, another tomorrow. Todays was a real nightmare. First off they had approx 30% more stuff to deliver – 30 bags as opposed to he usual 20 or so – than I normally have, and yet supposedly to be delivered in the same (two hour) time frame!

My Flex shift today was hellish!

On top of this, even before I’d left, the scanning and naming/numbering of the deliveries didn’t tally correctly. There were extra bags, numbers/names/codes didn’t match, and, well, more on this later…

I’d also very much like to opt out of making any deliveries to Cambridge. Most trips to Cambridge involve dropping deliveries to at least one ‘block of flats’ or student halls of residence. In theory I can contact the customer. In practice this doesn’t always work. Today I had a whole slew of Chinese students in multiple occupancy residences , none of which had sufficient info to locate the customer, that made the entire shift a total nightmare.

Supposedly 2-4pm, I didn’t finish till 5pm. And when I did I had two bags of undelivered stuff left over! I had to call the Flex driver support line several times. To their credit, they do try to help, and sometimes they even actually sort things out. But, as ever in modern life, there’s far too much interacting with automated robotic systems. And they can’t always resolve stuff satisfactorily.

I anticipate negative feedback from Amazon on this delivery run. One particular order initially took over 45 minutes to ‘complete’ (or so I thought), putting me seriously behind schedule. And in the end this was – or so it seems – the order to which the two extra mystery bags that were left over belonged to. So adding that in, as well, at the end, means that one stop accounted for about an hours work!

How all this makes me feel!

Add to this my sore throat, the bigger than usual load, that for much of the shift it was cold and very rainy, and, nearly all of it being in town, there was heavy traffic congestion to negotiate… Bah! Not fun at all. For the most part I do enjoy doing Amazon Flex deliveries. Not so today! As already mentioned, I’d like to decline any further delivery trips to Cambridge.

Back ‘home’, at Hannah’s in Northstowe, I’m mainly staying in bed, as I don’t feel at all well. The right hand gland in my neck is swollen and painful, swallowing hurts, and I’m on a diet of liquids, paracetamol and lozenges.

Missed (again!). Bloody awful.

Thought a bit of snooker might help. So I watched the Trump vs Bingham Masters semi-final. Trump won, 6-1. But, my sweet lard, was it ropey! It was excruciating at times. I like fast heavy scoring snooker. This was low breaks, tactical grinding (and wailing and gnashing of teeth), and, frankly, quite boring . Both players playing well below their best.

What a day!

SPORT: Football, World Cup ‘22 – Morocco beat Spain

Bono, formerly of U2, now taking Morocco further…

Well, whilst working on the shed roof, I watched the Morocco vs Spain game. It wasn’t the most exciting. For 90 minutes, then 30 more, the teams seemed pretty evenly matched.

I was rooting for Morocco. They played better.*

But when it went to the dreaded penalty shoot out? Then things got very interesting.

Morocco just beat Spain on penalties. And I have to say, they deserved the win. As I said above, it was not the greatest match I’ve ever seen. But Morocco dug in their heels, kept Spain under the cosh, and had the better opportunities.

This guy was a hero.

And when it came to the penalties, they were just better. They took them better, and their goalkeeper saved them better.

Achraf Hakimi’s penalty, and the celebration afterwards, were fabulous.

You could actually see it all in the player’s eyes. The Moroccans clearly wanted it, and believed they could do it. The Spanish, by contrast, were weak; you could see the doubt and fear in their faces. Astonishing!

* Oh, and I liked their kit better! I know this is silly, but sometimes I go with aesthetics.

On a separate but related note. I’m really digging this current England team. Just saw Grealish talking about facing France. The guy is as solid as his Giant Redwood tree-trunk legs. And he’s right. We have an excellent team.

With Sterling gone home, it’s interesting that the England team still have loads of firepower. France have Mbappe (ok, they also have Dembele, Griesman, etc.). But we have Kane, Saka, Foden, Henderson, Bellingham, and Pickford in goal (oh, and Grealish, lest we forget!).

That’s the spirit!

It’s unusual for me to say this, but I have faith in our team.

SPORT: Football, World Cup ‘22 – That’s More Like It!

What a great picture. What a great moment.

England 3, Senegal 0

I used to actively dislike football. Or at least I tried to, for a spell. What I really disliked (and still do) are: yobbism, the tribalism of some supporters, and the grotesque capitalism that has colonised and dominates the sport.

Anyway, mini-rant over, back to the footy. And tonight it was, mercifully, enjoyable. Well, at least it was if you’re rooting for England. And (I’ll forego my rant about patriotism and jingoism!) And I was/am rooting for England.

Bellingham and Henderson celebrate goal #1.

I won’t pretend I know much about the beautiful game. But I do know that I like Gareth Southgate’s managerial style, and the crop of players he has at his disposal. One of the ITV pundits – Gary Neville? – put it well, saying Southgate was ‘compassionate’, and that his team believed in him as a leader.

I also liked the sound of the cultivation of a team spirit by watching matches together, as opposed to players disappearing into solipsistic isolation in social media and gaming consoles, etc.

Kane hoofs in goal #2.

But to the match: Senegal started strongly, getting the first two best chances. But then England gradually warmed up. And in the last ten minutes of the first half, first Henderson and then Kane (finally!) scored superbly emphatic goals.

I have to admit my attention wandered in the second half. But then I’m not the worlds most ardent footy fan. And I often tend to be doing other stuff whilst watching matches. But when Saka scored goal number three – another real peach – it brought my attention back with a bang.

Saka enjoys the glory of goal #3.

I rarely bother with the pre or post match punditry. And tonight was, in that respect, business as usual, for me; hopped into a piping hot bath, and then off to bed! But it’s nice to have been able to enjoy watching England compete internationally and acquit themselves so admirably.

Great work, lads!

SPORT: Football, World Cup ‘22 – Day 2, England vs Iran

Bellingham celebrates his first World Cup goal.

I managed to get home early enough to catch the England Iran game yesterday. I missed the first ten minutes or so, and arrived back during what turned out to be a marathon time-out, due to the Iranian goal keeper bashing heads with one of his defenders.

This wound up adding 14 or 15 minutes of extra time to the first half. Is that a record?When I got home I knocked on our neighbour’s door, knowing he had the day off, and thinking watching the footy on the social might be fun. It was. Too much fun, in the end!

The match itself was goalless when I arrived. But, once play resumed, the goals started coming thick and fast. I think it was 3-0 by half time. Not the dull game I had worried it might be.

Saka – scored twice – celebrates.

In the end we wound up having dinner round there; I picked Teresa up at the station, and Regina very kindly fed us all. The only bum note was my excessive intake of alcohol (ah, the irony!*). I bought a couple of cases of Shipyard Ale, on a two-for-one (almost) promo’, at Sainsburys. And then drank way too many cans.

Now I’m paying for it. With a hangover, and a gassy bloated tummy. Aaargh…. How I hate being an idiot! Still, at least the football was fun.

* Qatar tried banning booze altogether, upsetting sponsor, Budweiser. I’m still not clear what the situation is! Here’s something on the subject.

Pickford and Kane celebrate.

Amazingly, with six goals, Kane – instrumental in a few of them (feeding Sterling the third goal, and Rashford, the fifth – on his third touch! – for example), and still key to our success – didn’t actually score any of them. He must have been both very chuffed at the result, and a bit gutted not to be on the scoresheet. Speaking of which:

J. Bellingham 35'
B. Saka 43', 62'
R. Sterling 45+1'
M. Rashford 71'
J. Grealish 90'

M. Taremi 65’,90+13' (P)

Taremi’s first goal for Iran was superb. His second – a penalty – prob’ shouldn’t have been given. But you can’t begrudge him or Iran their two goals, in the end. England’s emphatic dominance and victory were still more than adequately reflected in the final result.

How good was it to get off to such a good start!? Amazing.

And, amidst all the political controversy, it was lovely to note that Jack ‘Calves’ Grealish dedicated his goal (England’s sixth of the match!) to a young fan:

Grealish meets Finlay.
A celebratory move is agreed upon…
… and, very sweetly, a promise is kept.

BTW, the politics of the region once again made itself apparent: the Iranian players didn’t sing their own national anthem – which caused Gary Lineker to make the observation that it was ‘a powerful and very significant gesture’ – and there were protest placards in the crowd, with slogans such as ‘Iranian women’ (in ref’ to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini).

On a lighter note, I met Miklas’ pet rat (very cute!), and had a go on their Carlsbro e-kit. I was so drunk and the kit is set up for southpaw Chris… I could barely sit on the stool, never mind play!