Thursday, 23 January 2014

An Ambulance At The Bottom Of Your Cliff


In a new feature, the first section of this week's effort is thrown open to a guest blog from someone with the inside track on Everton's next opponents for a bit of behind the scenes insight on the mood in the enemy's camp! Here's Stevenage's representative, Chris Clarkson:

As part of being in the Stevenage panto scene I’m fortunate enough to be asked to be part of events in the town. Instead of presenting it all (my usual role, as well as being a Magician in a Redd’s (a beer) commercial, a Kitchen Salesman for German company Kutchenhaus, playing a DHL Delivery Boy in a European campaign, as a Sofa Salesman for DFS, a Sales Assistant forBrightHouse, a Dad for the Co-op/Somerfield, a young worker for AXA, a Living Statue for Ford, the presenter in theLighterLife series of adverts, a DIY handyman for Philips, the annoying, whooping presenter in Gillette‘s launch campaign for the Fusion Proglide, an extremely fast talking store worker for Tesco and for 2 years running as theRonseal Man (I did exactly what it said on the tin!) ) I’m there as a special guest and someone interviews me for a change!

Chris (dressed in costume as Potty Pierre) with local luminaries and Kitty from X Factor

I went along with 2 other cast members, Bernie Nolan and Leanne Jones. Leanne sang ‘Good Morning Baltimore’. Despite the fact that her backing track skipped around like no-one’s business she coped admirably and left the crowd with smiles on their faces.Quite how the girls were able to get away with not wearing costume (unlike muggins here) I’ll never know! All in all it was a lovely event and I was really pleased with how warmly the crowd received us. Plus it was great to work with the Jack FM guys and to be on the receiving end of their questions!


Linked: Beanpole targetman Lacina Traore
As that intro might suggest, there's not been a great deal to get excited about from a pretty slow week for the big blue machine, and what 'news' there has been has churned away without catching the imagination. Have we even signed - loaned - this Traore lad yet? It seemed briefly as though our intervention riling up Sam Allardyce as much as it did was worth the price - nothing? - of getting him in, but its really dragging on now. I'm not entirely sure what Roberto Martinez is going for with this. Obviously its a given I've never seen him play, but what we've been missing this season hasn't seemed to me to be an enormous grock upfront. Then again, the manager was quoted as saying he doesn't think he's great in the air.

Given he's just signed a 5 year deal with 'moneybags' Monaco which is in the bag regardless of how he does with Everton, its not too clear what his motivation is. I suppose if he's amazing and starts slotting to make 4th realistic again, then the thinking is that it wont matter that we cant sign him permanently as it will have done the short-term job to allow long-term benefits.

Jo during 'Loan 2: And You Thought The First One Was Underwhelming' 
Seems redolent of the Jo signing in 2009 to me: he was brought in as Saha was too fragile (I loved him as a player, but he was as likely to hold up under renewed strain as a Ryvitta drawbridge) to play every game. And Jo incredibly outdid him for flaky brittleness. Maybe we're hoping to do a similar rotating with wheeze him & Lukaku.

That 08/09 season, incidentally, coming 5th and getting to the cup final whilst running a transfer profit, would be arguably taken by a lot of fans in the current campaign. Worth noting that David Moyes hasn't always looked as dumbfounded and lacking in ideas as he is now.

Stood Off In A Wood: Hiddick & Advocaat
Thinking of that last cup final we were in, and it is the FA Cup this weekend so this is on topic - by what's to follow's standards anyway -  I always remember them as being one of the biggest, fittest hardest to face sides we've ever come up against in a one-off game. 

They were all monsters and all multi-title winning, super-athletic monsters to boot. That was under Guus Hiddink, who left straight after that. There's a lot to be said for stability, loyalty and gradual progression: but Chelsea have had 10 managers in the last ten years, ripped up plans every few months - and have won shedloads. Its not a view I like to entertain very often, but given football is essentially a throw-away, in-the-moment sport, is there really anything wrong with their way?

They come with a 451 lay-out already part of the pre-chalked graphics now. 
Moyes' response to the travails he's enduring is instructive though. His mantra in all interviews is the same as its always been for preparing a team and getting out of adversity  - similar to The Rakes': Work Work Work Pub Club Sleep, except that he stops after the first three and starts again.
(‘Some of the Everton players weren’t slow in contacting our players to tell them about Moyes’s training methods,’ one United source confirmed . They were told to expect some hard work and then some more hard work. It’s Moyes’s style and the Everton lads thought it quite funny that some of ours might be in for a bit of a wake-up call.’)
My opinion is that this is a curse he's acquired through success: when he first took over at Everton especially, and even later on, in his, for me, poor last three years that DID succeed. If you're struggling, getting the lads fit, hyped up and psyched up, is enough to get the wins over the average teams and avoid disaster. I think this papered over the cracks at times though, and because he knew he could revert to 'plan A+' he neglected to look at the deeper points (i.e. why did he keep having to do this).

That knee-jerk response to set-backs was grudgingly accepted by most at Everton, but simply wont work for him there - the problems they're having (e.g. how to get the better of Chelsea tactically, how to get the team playing with Champions~esque swagger) cant be solved by 'presence on the wing' or 'doing the basics right'. So, I do wonder what exactly the plan is there, even if the situation is still retrievable for him.


Bit of current affairs now, just because I'm surprised this didn't get more coverage except for a tiny mention in the FT. It involved a fairly prominent British actor, star of amongst other things Goldeneye, Spice World:The Movie and Romy & Michele's Highschool Reunion and a high-profile, ever-controversial subject. The project is Reichsmarschall, a new play exploring the behind the scenes politicking and personal rivalries behind the early years of the Gestapo and Lufftwaffe. 

In the middle of rehearsals, a wooden beam fell from the theatre roof and knocked the notoriously immersive leading man unconscious. 

Thankfully he's recovered now, but it was touch and go for a while and he was totally befuddled for a good few days, at times believing he was in fact the character he was impersonating when the near-tragedy occurred.  The paper quoted a doctor as saying "yes, he had us all quite worried, he was almost schizophrenic - he really didn't know whether he was Cumming or Goehring".


Skirts were short , the sun beat down and tempers flared as David Cameron announced he was recalling Parliament for the ill-conceived Syria vote, England had just won 3-0 in the Ashes and Miley Cyrus couldn't be stopped at the top of the charts. It was August 2013.

Yep, for the first time since 1992-93 (by my unresearched reckoning) we're playing the same team in both cups in the same season. Howard Kendall commented then, in a catchphrase that never really found universal coinage, 'if you have to play Wimbledon six times in any season, you can probably say it wasn't meant to be'

For the current lot though, it should be more "play like dicks and nearly get beat by these no-marks once - fool on us. Do it twice, the second of which is a much more important and high profile game....well, even more so I suppose (but if we scrape through it'll be sound I suppose)".

"Meeeerderrrrs!" At The Stevenage Home Game (quote courtesy of Ian Dunn) 
Again, unlikely to be an oft-repeated bon mot, but it would be really careless to make problems for ourselves here. On a basic level, neither of the goalscorers from the first encounter will be playing: Fellaini enjoying a new lease of life at Utd and Deulofeu perpetually posting pictures of himself recuperating in Barcelona, inspiring maybe the question of the season from someone on the 'official' Instagram - "When R U getting back here U queg?"

Not in time for this one anyway, apparently.

Given the line-up was a bit hard to follow the other night (its all hard to follow when you don't see the game to be fair) I'm not sure what we'll go with on Saturday, and consequently have some trepidation about the game, not because I fear we'll be 'bewildered' as their tit of a manager has said, just because for the first time in the season, I'm not sure Martinez knows the best XI. 

If pushed, I can see an inglorious 1-1 draw, in a fraught atmosphere unlikely to be helped by rumours of watching the game in the "Mount Pleasant Ring". Hopefully I'll have over-estimated the trickiness in a similar degree to the 3rd round game though.


One thing I do enjoy more than I probably should is finding out the obscure origins, 'etymology' if you will, of songs and lyrics - where the inspiration came from, what films the songwriters were watching to pick up the quotes they used etc.

And a fascinating, if more cultural current, example of this caught my eye in a snippet in Financial Advisor Weekly. They were interviewing chanteuse Taylor Swift, predominately about whether she checks out her TESSAs and her pensions, but at the end they asked her how she'd stumbled across such a catchy hook-line for her multi-million selling 2012 'global number 1' (only in Canada & Czech Republic amazingly, what was the rest of world on?), and it prompted this fascinating glimpse behind the pop iron curtain:

"Oh, god, that was so random. I was invited as a plus one to a party at David Beckham's house, so I was like, hellllooo, yeaaaaah I'm going, but my friend who I was going with, Scottish Thespian Alan Cumming, was like 'you do know what the theme is don't you, British Big Brother 2001 Fancy Dress - its rather obscure, are you gonna be okay with that?'. But I was just, Al babe, WHATEVER that theme is, its Beckham, I'm coming!. So he says, in that adorable campy way he has, he had a glint in his eye and said "I have a plan. You shall go to the ball!".

So the day comes, and I go to his apartment - its just like the one he had in Plunkett & McClean - and he giggles "Don't say anything. Just put this on".

We get there and its an amaaaaaazing party, we're sipping our daiquiris by the pool and bitching away, and finally - OMG - he comes over and says hi! Alan arched his eyebrow and with that knowing smirk said "I'll leave you together for a moment whilst I refresh my drink". I didn't know what to say, I felt about twelve, and I was so nervous I just garbled something about it being a great party, and did he like my costume. He said "very good" and I laughed and said "come on! I bet you don't even know who I'm supposed to be!".

David turned very serious and almost admonishing me, and explained: "Seriously, its a flawless outfit, very detailed and precise. Look at some of the others here - Katherine Jenkins as "Helen", she's just wearing her own clothes; Jon Hamm as "Stuart".....most of them I didn't even know who they were meant to be, but I had to pretend or ask them sneaky questions then act like they'd done a really good job.......Alexa Chung, such a try-hard. When she arrived I was like "pfft...Narinder, at pinch - maybe? Fuck knows". But you...." Then he fixed me with a gaze and I was melting at the knees and he was very intense, this is why it stuck in my mind so much I knew I had to use it, he said "with you....the burberry floppy hat, the baggy grimey T-shirt, the Chelsea pin-badge.....nah, Taylor, I knew you were Bubble when you walked in"


Lets hope it does go to a replay so we can do this all again eh?

Monday, 20 January 2014

Albonian Hustle

"Government Plumbers Must Do Their Best For Our People"
Welcome to a bonus Match Day special edition, thanks to having "the" plumbers in, and the day of work that has necessitated. Not sure what exactly they're doing, but they're making a lot of noise and talking about "the bizzies" a lot - and they've only been here ten minutes. Great bunch of lads.
There was space allocated for an intended summary of that Walter Mitty film which I was scheduled to see yesterday; however Woolton Picture House, praised here before Christmas sullied its stellar rating somewhat by changing its scheduling to a 'kids club' matinee screening of Frozen instead.

"Another much loved comedian, Lenny used to be good friends with a lot of the players back in the days of Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis. More recently in his Chef sitcom-type-programme, he delivered a line along the lines "I'm 35...I like shopping, and sex...and I support West Bromwich Albion". Lenny also appeared in a drama documentary about a drugs rehab centre that ran a football team, based on a team from Glasgow but set in Dudley, presumably to incorporate Lenny and his accent. There's a fine line in it when Lenny's footballing ability is questioned, and he responds with "Oy, I had trials with the Albion, me". Glynis Wright, of Grorty Dick fame, claims that she once shared a car with Lenny on the way to an FA Cup game at Everton"
With a bit of space to fill, I’ve decided against a write-up of the general Woolton/Gatecare area (although a 'shout out' to The Black Bull, which was a highly commendable Sunday pub, replete with fireside seats) in favour of a bit more waffle via a reprieved feature, originally ruled-out due to the games within its remit not being a particularly noteworthy batch on this occaision.

Off to The Hawthorns tonight then, where my fine-toothcomb, eagle-eyed tactical insight is: I hope we change kit. By my calculations, previous visits there have produced this formula:

Change Kit P4 W3 L1
Blue P3 L3 (no goals scored)
So the 'key man' tonight could well be Jimmy Martin. I always wonder how teams do come to these decisions - and it must be said that there has been a recent influx of totally unnecessary kit changes in the last two seasons or so, so I presume there has been some regulatory easing in that department. I find it most disagreeable - Hull at Newcastle is one that sticks in my craw, changing to grey from orange against a team in black and white?

Pembridge was alright actually
Sunny spring of 2003 saw a 2-1 win for the black-clad Blues in a horrible scrappy game with three terrible goals - they went ahead through a Brent Hass penalty, we went ahead by half-time through Russell Hoult: in the first instance punching a corner into his own net, then missing a big hoof of a cross so that Rooney, in his first real run of starts, could cleverly set-up Kevin Campbell, in his last real run of starts, to poke home.

Arteta, on loan at the time, got booted everywhere in this one
The next encounter was at a similar time of the season two years later (when there are gaps like this, it’s because West Brom went down, obviously) by which time 'Super' Kev was lining up for the Baggies. I would have to admit to not really appreciating Campbell when he was at Everton, mainly down to not going during his initial burst of 9 goals in 8 games when he arrived on loan - but his overall record of 51 in 139 starts, in some down-right rank line-ups is pretty decent, it was just a shame we made the least-modern, most anti-soccernomics decision ever to give him a club-record five year deal when he was already turned 30 and had just come back from a very serious injury.

When you look at the decisions the board have made in more recent times, in a broad sense, they haven’t made many such glaring errors - in fact if you were a dispassionate observer, you might actually conclude that Bill Kenwright saw the over-sentimental mistake for what it was and reluctantly realised things had to be managed more ruthlessly in future.

Anyway, this game was horrible, one where we just didn’t turn up when a win would have virtually sealed 4th place, and lost 0-1 to a Zoltan Gera header.

Oh, shurrup Phil. And I bet Davies played really well in this one...
If that was bad, the follow-up 6 months or so later must qualify of one the nadirs of the whole Moyes era, an unaccountable 0-4 thrashing by a dreadful side who were comfortably relegated despite the morale boost of staying up at the end of 2004/05. After grinding out 3 solid results with one method, we decided to give that a good ol' shake up here to recall Kilbane and Bent and give a performance of utter ineptitude to go down to what was, at that point, our 14th loss in run of 19 disastrous games. Watched in a pub (not the Smugglers or Palatine) in Morecambe, amid undisguised glee and amusment from the locals to compound matters.

I enjoyed The Yak
We were in a similarly shaky pickle when West Brom next got round to getting promoted and we were the first visitors to the Hawthorns in 2008 when a dreadful summer of inactivity resulted in James Baxter and Jack Rodwell both starting. This was a really good win, the match swung by James Vaughan coming on as sub, which preceded nice goals from Osman and Yakubu in front of an enormous away support.

Dinyar just know that was going to happen?
Another end of season journey in 2011 ended in a really irritating but ultimately irrelevant 0-1 defeat, with Bilyaletdinov fairly surprisingly picking up his second (and sadly last) straight red card of his underwhelming, and personally upsetting to me, Everton tenure.

The morning after the Robert Redford room-clearing love-in
We then sneaked a truly abominable New Year's Day encounter (Heitinga and Neville were our central midfield) with a suitably scruffy snatched winner by Victor Anichebe. It doesn't look like Big Vic will be involved tonight (could have just guessed that, but having checked he hasn't appeared since 7th December) to add to his 1 goal in 10 appearances since his £6m move.

Goal. The other one, not by Long. 
Then last season, we lost 0-2 in what was a good game (we would have won if we'd scored first, and Fellaini missed a sitter before me-proclaimed Signing Of The Decade Shane Long scored up the other end). Having seen both that match and Liverpool get beat 0-3 there a couple of weeks beforehand, it wasn’t a surprise that they went on to have a decent season. But Steve Clarke's signings this summer seemed to be a pretty unsuccessful random bunch of picks (see above), although getting rid of him before the festive clutch of games seemed unwise.

The Jarg Rorfa? Pepe Mel (apparently)
All of which means we're in a similar situation to last season, when we went to Southampton on a Monday night, with them having just appointed a new snazzy foreign manager. We really struggled there, particularly first half, and were lucky to get a 0-0 out of it, albeit with some missed chances to get a goal later on. I have a slight niggle that we might be a bit off again tonight, and that we might try to be a bit too clever in trying to negotiate three very different away games in eight days. But, given the lack of goals threat from West Brom, I can see us being unconvincingly and tenuously in control throughout: nicking it 1-0, perhaps with a free-kick or penalty by Baines.

Poster everyone must have seen about 100 times already
This is one I did get to see without a family-friendly animation being hastily rescheduled to thwart my cinematic enjoyment and then pretentious review thereof. And enjoy it I most certainly did. And prattle on about I most certainly will.

One of the main things I was had in mind to say as a disclaimer on how much I liked this was that, even whilst finding it one of the best films of maybe the last five years or so, I didnt get overly caught up in the plot. That is because, to be honest, I tend not to: when we watch a box-set, I sometimes forget there is even the elemnt of ‘whodunit’ or possibilities over ‘what will happen next?’. I watch (and fro that matter, read books too) more in a mindset of ‘this is a good character’ and ‘thats a well crafted scene’, and get involved that way – more ‘how will they have x react to that happening?’ than ‘why has that just happened’.

So, it made a lot of sense when I saw this quote from the director David Russell, after Christian Bale warned him that allowing the actors to improvise so much in earlier scenes might cause problems with the story later on:

"Christian, I hate plots. I am all about characters, that's it."
Loves it the big fella
And the characters in American Hustle are exemplary, excellently written and watchable throughout. I found Bale’s Irving absolutely hilarious, although I’m not sure he was intended/written quite as comically In an odd way (as on the face of it there’s nowhere near the depth to the character) I think he put just as much into ‘being’ Irving as he did into his roles in American Psycho, The Mechanist etc.

Everything he does is totally believable (maybe his character, on a basic level, has done well to get into both Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams – although his wardrobe is outstanding, so...), with a highlight for me being when he’s loses himself and ends up artlessly and innocently caught-up in enjoying his unexpected night out and sing-along with the mayor and his mates.

Showing a totally different side, he conveys Irving’s nervousness, caution and sense of being out of his depth and events running out of control in the back-room deal-making scene with Robert De Niro brilliantly (by hardly saying or doing anything other than look sweaty and worried).

Two top suits
And there is a scene near the end that made me howl ‘on me bill’ in the cinema, Bradley Cooper’s Richie character has eventually managed to book out a huge area of a hotel as the sting operation moves towards a climax. In a crucial stage for everyone, in an incredibly tense situation, Richie tells him excitedly “I’ve hired the whole top two floors! Can you believe that, two whole floors to ourselves?!” He replies “Really, two whole floors?” in the most dead-bat, balloon-bursting, ‘not arsed lad’ way.

What the whole movie put me most in mind of above all was a top-end WWE storyline. I’m sure pretty much every director would recoil from that in horror, but I mean it here as a big compliment. Partly that impression might have crystallised in my mind because there’s almost no actual sex scenes or violence in the film, despite both being key components, as was the case really even in the heyday of wrestling. At its most basic level: a couple of heels get caught up in a complicated situation with a babyface who has a good winning run and looks to have won over the girl, then gets screwed over at the end with a ‘they were in cahoots all along king!’ pay-off. Solid gimmick.

There’s also something similar – and hugely enjoyable - in the fact that everyone in this movie is clearly 100% acting – there’s no sense that they’re ‘using personal experience’ or anything- they’re doing quite OTT, bordering on unreal, characters and giving them everything they’ve got.

One scene, where Cooper is on the brink of capitulating fully and having sex with Amy Adams on her table, only to do a deep breath, ‘pull himself together’, think better of it and leave, particularly left that impression on me.

To be clear though, this is in some ways a much more substantial piece of work than I may have implied by that. At 138 mins, I could see why Cat said it was maybe a bit too long, as the storyline does dwindle and stagnate a bit in the middle – but I prefer that to bits being rushed through. If you’ve come up with these characters and got such good actors in to play them so believably, you may as well err on the side of indulgence rather than under-using them, in my opinion.

Again, winning attire
Obviously this is the same director as Silver Linings Playbook, which is another terrific film, and three of the actors are used in both.

It’s long been a watchword of min that I don’t like Bradley Cooper. These being the only two films I’ve seen him in, he is very good in both, playing fairly different personas and putting in interesting and believable performances. That said, I still can’t fully warm to him, and he’ll never be one where I think ‘oh, he’s in that, I’ll give it a go’, but he definitely adds to this one and provides a great counterpoint for Bale to seethe and fume at.

Smashing coat/hat combo
Although he’s only in one scene, it’s another appearance from de Niro in which he adds to instead of diminishing his oeuvre. The director seems to ‘get’ him : I was worried in SLP that he was going to get caught-up in a cringe-worthy last-second, sudden-death, drop-kick mega-score to win his bet – but he didn’t he came out on top in a refreshingly flat, no frills way. And here he brings a calmness and gravitas to the one scene he’s in which is enough to give it a totally different feel to the pop-culture, things going at crazy angles world outside that dingy backroom.

The New Statesman review, the only one I’d read before seeing the film, was a tad grudging and seemed to be saying it was a bit unsure what the actual point/meaning of the film was. It was right though in saying that Jennifer Lawrence’s casting as a crazy, stay at home wife who shakes things up unpredictably and dangerously every time she goes out is ‘inspired’. Apart from the first scene she’s in (saying things like ‘come to mommy’ to Bale, and it not ringing true at all) she’s absolutely dazzlingly brilliant.

In fact I think the NS, in describing parts of it as “delivered from the pages of a cheap pulp novel” and “in part caper comedy” it was on the same lines as I was with my wrestling comparison, but they were a bit less glad to find that overlap and a bit more unsure of whether it was a good thing. They wondered “But how real is American Hustle?” – I decided early on it was not real at all, but entirely the better for that and as pure entertainment thoroughly enjoyable throughout. 4/5

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

How Soon Is Norw?

This letter is fairly typical of the batch I received (LOT, POLB, Merseyside, they'll get through) after the last blog went up  

"Why don't you ever talk about what's been on the television?Its all very well this heady brew of fetishism over old football games laced with some stuff about films and the the odd drop of music - but  a great deal more people watch TV every night than hunt down Sheff Wed goals from the 90s on YouTube. I must inform you that you rather come across as somewhat out of touch. That said, I did like it when you had a go at Danny Alexander. Yours, Mr I.Jenkins, Dundee".
I'm aware that this is the prime-time of the year for sales of DVD box-sets, but I think it would be insulting to the readership to lurch suddenly that way. If a reference to the medium is suitable, then I might include it - but it would be frankly lacking in integrity to try to force the issue by shoe-horning in references to programmes for the sake of it and go zeitgeist-chasing trying to look relevant.

In the most recent episode of Sherlock (BBC 2010-) Benedict Cumberbatch was asked by Martin Freeman "how cant you remember? You remember everything?!" and replied "No, you have to delete some things!". I think that's right: you just cant retain every scrap of information you come across in a lifetime. Where there's a difference is that the implication was that he has developed a system whereby, the majority of the time, he can data-bank important stuff and get rid of the inconsequential.

I'm not sure I've got that filter working fully correctly. The  first thing that came into my mind when I thought about Saturday's opponents was a reference from Fantasy Football League (BBC 1994-96) when David Baddiel quipped that half of Norwich's team at the time sounded like an elaborately long name dreamt up to be the title of a high-end solicitors in a period drama or Radio 4 sketch:

"The firm of Butterworth, Culverhouse, Woodthorpe, Ullathorne & Crook".

Still gold that. As for Sherlock, I thought it was okay: perfectly entertaining, but both episodes have actually copped-out of any real detailed plot. Its nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is when they lunge for pure comedy, although the false-reveal at the start of the first of the two shows in this series was very well pulled off.

But perhaps this as good a time as any to try to work push this particular medium to the fore, as there has been a mini-rash of Everton on the small-screen recently.

Firstly, this bit of graffiti from Eastenders (BBC 1985-), but I didn't see that so cant really comment. 

Rigorous research.

Then we had Roberto Martinez startling a 94 year old in a rather unforeseen (I suppose they all are given the theme) appearance on Surprise Surprise (ITV 1984-). I didn't watch
this either, and although I gather from a rather woolly re-cap from my Gran that there were wide-ranging benefits to the family involved, I'm not sure exactly what went 'down', although I am assured it there was no Cilla Black on hand to throw herself at stylishly smiley Spanish super-sage.
Finally, Big Bill himself rolled up on Pointless (BBC 2009-), and, no, I was not among the viewing audience for that either. His outing did earn the following sour write-up from arch miserabists Toffeweb though: usual (and what we have come to expect), he failed to produce the money, failing to win a £2,000 jackpot for charity... there was a mention of Romelu Lukaku being the only Belgian he knows, quite surprising as we have Mirallas as well.... he failed to mention he was the club Chairman, maybe he is so out of his depth he doesn't know who or what he does. 

For anyone unfamiliar with the pit of negativity that website is, this is not parody, they actually do think he should have gone on bragging about how important he is, held up the show to list all Belgian players Everton have had and deliberately got his questions wrong, such is his ingrained obsession to minimising outlay. 
We are an unabashedly staunch The Chase (ITV 2009-) household though. I don't mind Pointless but it can be overly leisurely at times: the cerebral pace always seems to be dragging out 30 minutes content over twice as long as necessary - tending  to ramble off onto lengthy diversions and tenuously linked conversational gambits which must test the full-time audience's patience. Another odd aspect to the brain, similar to the one mentioned earlier, is that intermittent phenomenon whereby you don't know what a word means, or never hear it - then you do and its suddenly everywhere. 

That happened to me over the festive period, when the precise meaning of the word 'troglodyte' was explained to me. Its someone who lives in a cave, not just a broadly unsophisticated luddite type as I had assumed. On Saturday afternoon there was a repeat of The Chase on, and the question was "Where would a troglodyte traditionally live: a) a cave b) under the sea c) a dessert?".

Knowing which was the answer, I said aloud "cave" and any lasting doubt as to the etymological or historical origins of the description were erased by universal arbiter of fact Bradley Walsh affirming this was the case. 

Bradley Walsh of course was also in Day & Night (ITV 2001-2003). Remember that? I did vaguely and on looking up the details, came to a conclusion I have long suspected to be true -  that people are wrong to single out politicians for speaking in bizarre ways and pathetically trying to put a positive spin, even when such a view is beyond any plausible interpretation. In this case, the decision to remove Day & Night from its tea-time slot and re-schedule it : 
"The series has already established itself as cult viewing for young adults and repositioning it with a first showing in at a later time can only build on its appeal".
So thoroughly repositioned was it that, 'in late 2002, episodes aired at 2am'. That must have made it more cult than David Koresh watching a Scientology documentary wearing a Charles Manson T-Shirt in a hut made entirely from tin foil, with She Sells Sanctuary playing in the background. 
Another irritating aspect of Pointless is that you get people on who end up giving answers that totally refute the premise of the show - 'a film starring Charlie Sheen? Ooo, I'll go Platoon...". 
Same person, if you asked them to "reference a television clip involving a female chairman of an East Anglian football club" would probably go 'um, that time she went on the pitch and was a shrieky mess'. Why not go with 'that time Delia Smith was on Fantasy Football League and got presented with a mounted seed on a velvet plaque and they said it was Caraway Road?'. I bet not many people would say that. 
Even less people would venture a mention for the moment from the same show when, in a skit that posited Matt Le Tissier as a videoshop salesman, a reference is made to the fictional(?) "Skinner-Strachan Antics" home movie - and you can see why it wouldn't be volunteered as an answer, given it has no link whatsoever to even the nonsensical fictitious question I made up. But the above picture is worth shoe-horning anything in to use isn't it? Another inexplicably lodged snippet of useless ephemera I have internalised is a pathos-soaked sob story from a Sunday tabloid magazine interview with Micahela Strachan, about ten years ago, and she was asked something probing and hard-hitting like "so, why are you looking so healthy lately?". She replied:
"I was at a beach last summer, in my bikini, and I overheard two teenage lads talking about me. I was quite flattered until I heard one of them say 'Nah, no way is that Micahela Strachan, she has much better legs and is wayyyy fitter than her!' and I decided I had to get back in shape".
She must have feared the worst for her career then and thought she might have already have had her best years behind her. But here we are in 2014 and she's just come second behind a 6 year old dancer to squeeze through to the next round of celebrity diving and light-entertainment spectacular Splash! (ITV 2013-). And squeeze through she did, as LOT favourite Tom Daley helmed a serviceable return to air on Saturday night, although we said goodbye to some fat tit who used to be in Eastenders, the 'lets put a fit one from Hollyoaks (C4 1995-)  in' candidate, and in a typically tense Splash-Off finale, the massive loudmouth from TOWIE (ITV 2010-) who's feat of falling maladroitly head-first into the pool from an inch above the water twice was deemed inferior to Michaela's efforts by a majority judge's verdict. 
Also a guest on Fantasy Football League was Sue Johnston. She's relatively recently been in a couple of shows which I haven't seen a good word for anywhere, but which I oddly enjoyed. In Being Eileen (BBC 2013) there were two plots that made me genuinely titter (going to see Rihanna, and a cheeky dig at the proliferation of weird fitness classes). 
In Jam & Jerusalem (BBC 2006-08), although the whole programme was a bit of a struggle it fitted in a storyline where David Mitchell was being lured into running as a rural MP that was brilliantly pitched and some of the best work he's ever done. 
Apparently, Bill Kenwright also regaled viewers on his recent cameo with his tale of when Everton won the FA Cup in 1966. I first heard this anecdote ("I Got Wet!")  in 1993 on a short-lived Sky Sports show where each week they focused on a different club 'behind the scenes' (The Club Show(?) Sky, 1992(?)-93(?)). He jumped in a fountain by the way. 

Our episode honed-in on the fevered build-up to a January home game against Norwich. Which, you have to admit, is quite convenient. 
How the show pads itself out is beyond even my memory, but it does show lots of pointless footage of 'the lads' chattering in the dressing room, reading the programme and Billy Kenny getting a calf-massage. At some juncture it cuts to the peripheral figures in the ground, and there is a scene where a smart-ass, wise-cracking, thinks-he's-great Kopite Head Steward briefs his underlings by telling them how Norwich are doing so well and are so far ahead of Everton (they came 3rd to our 13th), and follows some snarky repartee about there not being much of a crowd to cause trouble (20,000) by caustically quipping "and lets not forget .... even Everton aren't looking too bad right now, by their standards......" (we'd won three in a row). 

Needless to say....
....we didn't have the last laugh. There was precious little humour on show at all as  a maybe offside Chris Sutton goal and an incredible save by Bryan Gunn off Tony Cottee in injury time consigned us to a 0-1 defeat. Nine months later, this fixture remained staunchly chuckle free from an Everton perspective as Paul Rideout's early goal was erased, then scribbled over in big fuck-off marker pen by Efan Ekoku who ludicrously plundered four goals as Mike Walker's confident Canaries fluttered to a 5-1 rout in my first game after reaching double figures. 
And that much-sought giggle & grim remained elusive in our rivalry even after Everton incurred the wrath of international football and conservation caucuses by poaching The Norfolk Silver Fox and installing him in the Bellefield hen-house to shake things up - one of his first games was a return to his old trotting ground, resulting in an ignominious thrashing by Gary Megson's until-then winless side (3-0 and it should have been more) which was oddly taken without much fuss at the time as far as I can recall. 
Fast-forward another 9 months to November 1994 and Goodison under Walker's gormless reign continued to raise about as many smiles as The Wright Way (BBC 2013-) Vs The Life Of Riley (BBC 2009-) Live Comic Relief Wacky-Dance-Off, his last game being a dire 0-0 back at Norwich. After he was sacked, lo-and-behold, things improved rapidly and after an innocuous if important 2-1 win in February 1995 under Joe Royle (Stuart & Rideout) both were to find the net again later in the month in a 5-0 monstering (Limpar, Ferguson & Parkinson getting the others) that propelled us towards our last trophy success and safety - whilst sending Norwich careering into despair, a disastrous run and relegation from which they weren't to recover for over a decade.
Where was that steward then eh? 
Not much of note has really happened in Goodison league games between the teams since really. In 2005, a scrappy 1-0 as we inched towards 4th could have been good - until an anonymous jaundiced kill-joy carpet-bombed the FA with a letter writing campaign inveigling them to review secret footage he shot on a home video-recorded from a concrete pedestal near St Luke's church proving that the last touch was by all-time Premier-era worst XI contender Gary Doherty and not all-time Everton fan idol Duncan Ferguson. So that was good....
Since then, two pretty drab 1-1 draws (although I enjoyed Osman's late poke to equalise in the first, during a spell we were really struggling) . I expect a comfortable 2-0 win on Saturday. If Norwich come to just sit back - and has there been a more passive, unmemorable top-flight team over the course of this 3 year run they're on? - they're going to be at the mercy of how well we finish/play the final ball. With no reason to not field our strongest available line-up as well as Jelavic, Oviedo and Osman all pushing hard for a start, if we 'click' we could actually bloody murder them. 
Bloody Murder (ITV 2002) was a six part series in which Lee Boardman/Jez Quigley hammed it up gloriously to narrate murder mysteries of the 20th century, and simultaneously created beta/meta/3rd wall television. When you think that seven years later Larry David got rave reviews (from me at least) for playing a role in Whatever Works that was a rip-off of both himself and his most famous character, but officially billed as 'Boris', its a scandal that Boardman/Quigley is overlooked for going further, earlier, harder. 
His narration of this was done entirely in his massive  Corrie heel role, and the only fathomable reason for him to be linked with this subject matter was by dint of the underworld, fiendish, bad-boy character he was playing. Remember, officially, this was the actor doing a totally unconnected show, free from any shackles. In taking a persona created in fiction for a soap opera, extracting it from those confines , transposing it to a 'real life' show, and reading out historical accounts in a hysterically over-menacing manner he challenged the audience in a forward-thinking audacious leap, and this blog for one salutes him wholeheartedly for that.