Archives » 2011 » February

Arsenal 1-2 Birmingham City

Carling Cup; Final. Wembley Stadium, 27/02/11

This game showed that dodgy offside decisions are not restricted to Scottish lower league football. Even in real time, on television, it was obvious that Lee Bowyer was onside when Zigic played him in very early on. The television replays only confirmed it. A penalty and sending off would have been the sure result of a correct decision.

Had Arsenal gone on to win this game it would have been an injustice for that reason alone. But then maybe if they had gone down to ten men they would have rallied and Birmingham might have relaxed. As it was Birmingham stuck at it and reaped their reward through another Arsenal defensive mix-up.

Arsène Wenger seems to have a blind spot as far as defence is concerned. At Arsenal he inherited a good one but he doesn’t seem to be able to construct one himself.

Now that I’ve said that they’ll probably win the three trophies they’re still contesting this season.

Forfar Athletic 2-1 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 60

SFL Div 2, Station Park, 26/02/11

Ah well. Situation normal resumed. But if losing the first goal was a test I think we passed it.

Forfar are a big strong team. Ben Gordon and Jon McShane aside we are midgets in comparison.

They looked very good going forward in the first few minutes despite not carving us open the way East Fife did. When the goal came it looked a great strike. Stephen Grindlay had made a good save from an earlier effort but had knocked it back out, the guy just thumped it.

We barely registered until much later in the half then came into it. Jon McShane’s beautifully struck free-kick was finely placed but still should have been saved by the keeper who only turned it onto the post/bar and in. The ref looked as if he wasn’t sure it was a goal but eventually gave it. I briefly wondered if we had scored an equaliser in this season before yesterday then remembered we had – at Forfar, in the first game.

At half-time I thought we were lucky to be level.

Different story second half; we dominated and played some very good stuff. We had a fair few chances, Pat Walker desperately unlucky to have a curling shot go just wide, Mark Gilhaney electing to shoot first time twice when he had more time were the best of them.

We were pushing for the winner when Andy Geggan lost the ball three-quarters into their half and they broke upfield. Our cover had been sucked forward and the Forfar scorer had too much space available to him.

Alan Adamson withdrew two midfield players and threw on two more players in forward positions to go for it but the second equaliser wasn’t to be.

Had we won, and therefore equalled the 119 year old consecutive away wins record, I’d have felt obliged to go to Brechin on Tuesday night. As it is I’ll probably give it a miss.

It’s not over yet and those below us have games in hand, but we have enough in the team now to suggest we can beat the teams we have to, if not the ones pushing for the promotion play-offs.

Famous last words.

Friday On My Mind 47: The Wind Cries Mary

I thought I’d stick with the Mary theme for another week.

This must be the most un-Hendrix Hendrix song. Normally you think of virtuoso guitar, screaming feedback, up tempo rock.

This is a gentle ballad.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: The Wind Cries Mary

Nicholas Courtney

So farewell, then, Brigadier (lately Colonel) Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart.

This iconic character first appeared in Doctor Who in the Patrick Troughton era but became an integral part of the show during John Pertwee’s incarnation.

The actor who played him, Nicholas Courtney, had appeared in the programme in another role as early as 1965 opposite William Hartnell and – as Lethbridge-Stewart, in charge of the British arm of UNIT – with all the later TV versions of the Doctor up to Sylvester McCoy excepting that of Colin Baker.

As Colonel and Brigadier he was playing an essentially decent man who was (to my mind rather unfortunately) too prone to resort to his area of expertise, military means. The phrase most associated with the character was, “Five rounds rapid!” So much so that Courtney used that as the title of his autobiography.

While Courtney appeared in many other roles it is probably as Lethbridge-Stewart that he will be best remembered – certainly by fans of Doctor Who.

William Nicholas Stone Courtney: 16/12/1929-22/02/2011. So it goes.

Dumbarton 3-0 Peterhead

League goals against predictor:- 60

SFL Div 2, The Rock, 22/02/11

In the immortal words of Arthur Daley, “What is occurring, Terence?”

This is almost too good to be true. We even kept a clean sheet.*

Mind you, we were playing against ten men for most of the game. Yet earlier in the season that would have made no difference.

I can’t avoid the feeling that there’s a fall round the corner.

*Edited to add:- if there was a monkey on Stephen Grindlay’s back (and the defence’s) let’s hope it’s gone now.

Interesting Times

Sometimes I feel that we live in a Chinese curse.

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and now Libya. Where will it end?

Of course I thought the world had gone to hell in a handcart when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas if you prefer.) In my whole memory up to then the British Army had not been involved in a full blown shooting war. (Now it seems they’ll never be out of one.)

Then there was the fall of the Berlin Wall and all that followed.

I remember once seeing Enoch Powell on Parkinson and laughing at the old codger when he referred to the “Dutch East Indies.”

Now it’s me who is a bit of an old codger. I still think of St Petersburg as Leningrad as that was its name when I visited on a school cruise in the 1970s.

I have to scoff though when Mr Irresponsible and his sidekick William Hague stand up for the rights of street protestors.

That’ll be fine except when it occurs in the UK then, eh?

OK, arrest people who break the law by smashing windows or throw stuff and the like, but what is kettling and thumps on the head or back with a truncheon if not repression?

And kettles boil, do they not? Or is that the object of the exercise?

Typical Kirkcaldy Day

Yesterday the good lady and myself had a stroll along the Prom, prom, prom (as we do fairly often) and for the fifth day in a row the sea was wild. The previous days we had seen it only while walking to the High Street; enough to realise it was pretty rough. Thus forewarned, yesterday we took the camera.

Sea Fountain

It’s difficult to capture this fountain effect. The timing has to be right.

Looking North 2

The sea’s pounding has caused a lot of the Prom’s paviors to come loose. This was a minor example of the holes left behind. Flotsam and jetsam are also everywhere.

Sea surging up steps

Evasive action was required here!


Somehow or other a still photo doesn’t quite capture the moment.

The Restoration Game by Ken Macleod

Orbit, 2010. 303 p.

MacLeod’s last novel had, as well as the usual SF, elements of the police procedural to it, not to mention a setting which featured Edinburgh heavily. In this book he mixes SF with the espionage thriller and makes an excellent fist of the spy novel aspect. Is he thinking of moving away from the genre?

In the one time Caucasian Autonomous Region of Krassnia, one of those strange enclaves of the former Soviet Union where ethnic strife both within it and with its neighbours was just waiting to break out when that state disintegrated, there is a mountain which hides a secret. A secret which when filmed in 1952 put the fear of God into Stalin and Beria. Krassnia has for centuries been divided between its habitual rulers the Vrai and the underling Krassnars. The mountain is said to hold the secret of the red-haired Vrai and bad things happen to ordinary Krassnars who venture there. (I pondered the significance of vrai being the French word for true but couldn’t work out if there was any.)

Despite her being a US citizen currently living in Edinburgh – again a welcome setting for part of a MacLeod novel – Luciane Stone’s family has been tangled up in Krassnian affairs (the word is apposite) for four generations; indeed she was born and schooled there. In her job with an Edinburgh computer game company she has incorporated almost all the Krassnian folklore that she learned at her mother’s knee into their latest project “Dark Britannia.” Cue much speculation regarding simulations and simulacra. Another game project in hand is of a timeline where the Spartacus revolt in ancient Rome was not crushed. As a consequence Rome did not fall in the fifth century and the industrial revolution occurred much earlier than in Lucy’s world. The Romans reach Mars.

When the call comes from her mother to produce a version of “Dark Britannia” specifically aimed at the Krassnian market Lucy becomes embroiled in all the shenanigans you might expect in a spy/thriller story. As this scenario demands, Lucy does of course ascend the mountain, where she encounters a strangeness illuminating the nature of reality.

While fizzing with speculation, The Restoration Game blends the SF and spy elements a little awkwardly, with the more down to earth sequences fully realised and the fantastical standing somewhat aloof from them – at times appearing almost as an add-on. Nevertheless MacLeod’s prose enables the book to speed by. It is a page turner.

My reservations about the central tenet of the main SF element constitute a spoiler. Do not read on if you wish to avoid this. Get yourself the book instead. It’s a very entertaining read.



The SF element of The Restoration Game turns on the Earth of Lucy Stone, our Earth, being a simulation, run by Synthetic Psyches in a universe in which the Romans did reach Mars.

While this is an acceptable speculation and characters in such a simulation would “feel” (or experience, if you will) in a similar way to “real” people and would not be able to tell the difference – unless subject to the sort of evidence that The Restoration Game postulates – it is dangerously close to being “all a dream.” In dreams, of course, logic and internal consistency are not necessarily strong suits and a story set within one can be rendered meaningless.

Now, MacLeod’s simulated world definitely does not lack logic nor internal consistency but there is a wider sense that if the characters we read about are merely (merely?) simulations why should we care about them?

This is a philosophical conundrum for any reader of fiction, however, since all fictional characters are, by definition, not real. Even those based on historical or actual people are not real in the sense that a living breathing human is.

In this regard, though, to make characters within a work of fiction actual simulations is possibly a step too far. Even if we inhabit the same simulation ourselves.

Peterhead 1-2 Dumbarton

League goals against predictor:- 65

SFL Div 2, Balmoor Stadium, 19/02/11

This is getting surreal. That’s four away games in a row won. Just like that run we had last season. Up to sixth! It’ll be an awful come down if it all comes apart now.

The boys obviously have a bit of confidence about them. They were pegged back to 1-1 today but went on to score a winner. Totally unrecognisable from the team that started the season.

Funnily enough we have a relatively good record at Balmoor and a poorer one against the ‘Blue Toon’ at home. So this result could be reversed on Tuesday night.

Friday On My Mind 46: Along Comes Mary

The Beach Boys weren’t the only US group to prioritise harmony. Others to do so included The Turtles and this band, The Association whose songs Windy, Cherish and Never My Love may be more familiar as they actually troubled the lower reaches of the UK charts.

There is a bizarre (and failed) attempt at humour in the preface to this clip. It was The Smothers Brothers Show, though.

A cleaner sound – though not the original version – is available here. Edited to add; well it was available.

The Association: Along Comes Mary

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