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Monday October 31 2011

I have been neglecting Transport Blog.  We all have.  So here are a clutch of transport-related pictures, which I can link to from there.  Maybe that will get me going again.  Click on the photos to get the bigger pictures.

Photo 1:  I saw her in a shop window, in Oxford Street.  No I don’t understand that headgear either.  It’s definitely London bus.  But why?  Art, I suppose.

Photo 2: A helicopter, parked outside the Department of Trade and Whatnot, inside the huge new front door of the place that probably cost more than a house.

Photo 3: The police still use horses, mostly for riots I presume, and perhaps for public events.  But when there are no riots or events, the horses still need to get out and keep busy.  These two look like they’re escorting some buses along Victoria Street, but they aren’t really.

Photo 4: Lorry for transporting plant, not plants, and certainly not tomato plants.  It’s a joke.  But why all the lights?


Photo 5: The Police again. Police vehicles never used to be this garish.  Click and you also see a bike shop.  But it doesn’t seem to bother with a website.

Photo 6: Seats on some London buses have been replaced by vertical leaning surfaces, so that more can stand in a bus than could have sat on it.

Photo 7:  Advertising on the move.  The trick is to have a weird vehicle that attracts attention.  If there is a website, I can’t find it in my photo.

Photo 8 Again, two kinds of transport in one snap. The Goodyear Blimp hovers over the former Eurostar Station at Waterloo.  Is that going be doing anything, any time soon?  Or is it going to be empty for ever?  All I could find on the internet was a reference to it being turned into a theatre:

The Railway Children was first produced by York Theatre Royal at the National Railway Museum before transferring to a newly built theatre at the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo.

What a waste.  Still, I suppose anything is better than absolutely nothing.

Friday October 28 2011

I’m busy concocting a big Samizdata posting about the NFL.  (When this link turns purple, that will be the link from here to that.) But the Samizdata posting is getting really big, and I want to link to these photos from there, so as not to clutter up that posting any more than I have already.  So:


A Real Photographer would probably have used a filter, or some such contrivance, to deal with the light being so bright, either making the sky white (mostly that) or things in the shade black. One day I will learn all these things, and become a perfect photographer.  Then, only hours later, I will die.

Is this for real?:

Swallowable Perfume Makes Your Sweat Smell Nice

Netherlands-based artist Lucy McCrae teamed up with a synthetic biologist to create a perfume pill that actually turns your sweat into a fragrance.

Sweat has never been known for its nice odour, but that’s all going to change as soon as “Swallowable Parfum” becomes a reality.  Australian artist Lucy McCrae is currently working on a revolutionary pill designed to deliver perfume directly into the body, turning the skin into an atomiser.  ‘Swallowable Parfum is a digestible scented capsule that emits a unique odor through your own perspiration,’ McCrae writes on her website. The pill will essentially turn sweat into a fragrance that will have its own characteristic for every person, because we are genetically unique.

Personally I doubt if this is for real, my first reaction being to check that the date of the postings wasn’t April 1st.  She’s an “artist”, and all she is doing is “working on” this thing. By the sound of it, all that this artist has done so far is she’s said to someone that she would like this.  But, inventions have to start somewhere.  And maybe publishing a mere wish on the internet will hurry things along a bit.

And what about that “its own characteristic for every person” bit?  I smell unintended consequences.  I bet, if this ever does work, that it won’t work equally well for everybody.  There will be evil-smelling disasters as well as sweet sweat.  But, what the hell, you could say the same kind of thing about life itself.

Thursday October 27 2011

London never used to look like this:


Click to get the bigger picture.  Which I found while having a rootle through my photo-archives.  Sometimes I love my hopeless memory, because I come across photos I took myself but which I later encounter as pleasing strangers.

It makes me think more of somewhere like Miami.  What we’re doing is looking back towards central London past the Thames Barrier, to the Docklands Towers and then beyond.  Spot the Shard, somewhat more under construction than it is now.

When I took this photo in early February of this year, all that I considered worth exhibiting here of the photos I took on that day were these, of signs.

Wednesday October 26 2011

I mentioned the difficulties I had last Saturday, at the Liberty League Conference, with indoor photography.  The least unsuccessful indoor photos I took were of some of the speakers.

Part of movement building is telling each other what we all look like, so here are these snaps.  Click to get bigger pictures, exactly as they emerged from my camera.  If anyone uses any of these snaps elsewhere (as they are most welcome to do) they are also welcome to do whatever editing they consider might improve them.

The good gentlemen pictured below are, in the order in which they spoke at the Conference, James Stanfield (top left), Mark Pennington (top centre), Brendon O’Neill (top right), Kristian Niemietz (bottom left), Andrew Lilico (bottom centre), Mustafa Akyol (bottom left):


James Stanfield.  Stanfield is a colleague of James Tooley, and was a late replacement for Tooley, who had been struck down by a travel-related bug.  It seems that school spotting in far away places has its dangers.  Having heard Tooley speak a number of times over the years, most recently last Wednesday, and not ever having heard James Stanfield before, I personally was not that distressed by this swap, although I’m guessing others present may have been.

Everyone, definitely including me, regretted the no-show by Toby Young, who got stuck in traffic and then failed to find anywhere to park and went back home.  Bizarre.  But at least Young phoned in to explain all this.  The titles of two of his books, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People and The Sound of No Hands Clapping, provoked laughter when mentioned by conference supremo Anton Howes as he passed on these travel updates.

Stanfield’s talk was distinguished by his assertion of the value of liberty, as a principle.  Stanfield didn’t justify a total free market in education merely because it would, in the opinion of onlookers, have better educational results.  People should, he said, be allowed to choose whatever education they want for their children, because that is an inherently good idea, along with such ideas as it being good for people to be allowed to say what they want and go where they want.

The other of the above speakers who particularly impressed me was Mustafa Akyol.  I am no admirer of Islam.  Akyol is the first person (Muslim or otherwise) I have ever heard to have got me thinking that I might be mistaken about just how inherently evil Islam is.  He is the author of a book entitled Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case For Liberty, a copy of which I purchased after he gave his talk.  I probably still won’t be convinced, mind, but I am looking forward to reading this.

That a particular speaker may not have impressed me as much as the above two says little about him and quite a lot about me.  I have reached the nodding off stage in life.  If I nod off while you are speaking at an event I am attending, you shouldn’t take it personally.  Could this be why so many people - people other than me - prefer not to sit at the front of the audience at events like this?

Tuesday October 25 2011

Thame Gazette:

A ONE man show is coming to Thame.

Devised, written and starring professional actor Clive Woodward, You, Me, Colin and Helen will be on show at The Players Theatre in Thame on Saturday for one night only.

The show is based upon Clive’s experience as an actor who has worked on major feature films such as The Kings Speech, A Bunch of Amateurs starring Burt Reynolds and Brighton Rock, starring Dame Helen Mirren, TV programmes such as Spooks, Midsommer Murders and Lewis as well as theatre productions, a TV commercial, BBC Radio plays and corporate acting work in role play, films and live events.

Poor chap, having a famous name (which as an actor it would be most inconvenient for him to change), but not being the one who is famous for it.

It reminds me of the guy in Office Space whose name is Michael Bolton.  His friends urge him to call himself “Mike” instead, but he refuses.

“Clive” can’t be shortened, or really changed at all.  Clivey?  I don’t think so.

I get emails every time Clive Woodward gets an internet mention, which is how I heard about this.

Patrick Crozier has just dropped by and says maybe most acting people don’t know who Clive Woodward is.  Apart from being Clive Woodward the actor.  Maybe so.  Thank you Patrick.  You just destroyed the point of this posting.

Monday October 24 2011

Last Saturday I attended the Liberty League Conference 2011 at the National Liberal Club, and took lots of photos, most of which were hopelessly blurry, because of the indoorness of the light and the general incompetence of my indoor photography.  A few snaps came out okay, but most didn’t.  Further bloggage concerning this conference may, I hope (but do not promise), follow, but meanwhile let me tell you about something else that was happening at the same time as the Conference, just a walk away, in Trafalgar Square.

This was the NFL Fan Rally, happening a day ahead of the game between the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at Wembley, yesterday.  Yes, really.  The NFL exports one of its games to London every year, to fly the flag for their sport, in a foreign part.

So, on Saturday afternoon, I snuck out of the Conference, to take a look at this Fan Rally, with my camera, of course.

By the time I got there, the event was winding down as far as the official entertainment on offer was concerned, but there were still large numbers of fans milling about amiably, chatting, drinking beer, purchasing memorabilia, and enjoying the bright autumn sunshine.

Generic shots - of the same thing over and over again but different every time - are my favourite sort.  And I quickly realised that the thing that there were a great many of here, the same every time but different every time, was shirts with the names of NFL stars on the back, each with a big number.  So that was what I hoovered up with my little camera.

Here are all the name-and-number snaps I took (click to get some context), arranged in numerical order:


Most of the “big pictures” are pretty close up, and give little idea of what the event as a whole was like, other than there being lots of fat blokes in numbered shirts present.  Try Rice 80, Polomalu 43, or Urlacher 54, if you want to see something of the thing as a whole.  Or hope that I will post more pictures of the event up at Samizdata, Real Soon Now.

Having watched American Football on Brit TV over the years, I recognise most of those names.  I don’t know if the shirts are chosen because you adore the Name in question and could bear to wear no other, or if you just pick a shirt that’s cheap and comfortable and still in stock.  Even so, quite dramatic evidence of Brit NFL-ism, I think.

Chicago won the game on Sunday 24-18.  By all accounts a good time was had by all - i.e. by a near sell-out crowd of over seventy thousand, apart from the Bucks, and apart from the Glazers, who also own Manchester United.

Thursday October 20 2011

Indeed.  For a report on the actual lecture, go here.

Right, seen that?  Maybe while there, you also saw the little clump of glasses and bottles to the left as we look at Tooley.  For quite a while I photoed them, instead of Tooley or his introducer, because, well, they just looked so much better, and were so much better lit:


I can’t remember what that quote there, on the right, actually signifies.  Something bad about state education.

So now here’s the man himself:


Next up, on the left, the audience, who struck me as being really quite numerous, and not entirely by any means consisting only of old people whom I already knew.  In fact, I hardly recognised anyone, which is good.


And on the right, Mark Pennington Littlewood of the IEA squints into the light of the slide show machine, trying to make out who is trying to ask a question.

If you think these pictures are bit blurry, I can only say that I agree with you.  One of the reasons I now want a new camera is that I want a new camera that will work better in bad light, for occasions like this.

Monday October 17 2011

Indeed.  Rootling through my photo-archives, I came across this from June of this year:


It’s the addition of vegetation that I particularly like.  Neither the scaffolding nor the vegetation is trying to look good.  Both do, I think.

Sunday October 16 2011

Late this afternoon I went by tube to London Bridge station, where the Shard is to be found, and then walked back along the river until I reached Embankment tube station, which was as far as the District Line was going today.  Here are two snaps of the Shard that I took.


And here’s a view of it more like how most Londoners are now seeing the Shard, taken a bit later:


The bizarre thing is, I still can’t tell whether I’m going to like this Thing.  With architecture, you just never know, until they’ve finished it.  Will it be “iconic”, like the Gherkin?  Or will it be just a boring heep?  Much depends on the lighting.  Earlier in the month, I saw it from a distance, and I thought it just looked like the usual pile of flat floors, with only a very slightly different shape than usual, but otherwise just a Brand X tower.  This evening, it looked better than that, because this evening the glass surface of the building seemed to be asserting itself a lot more, emphasising the unusual shape rather than the banality of the horizontal stuff behind the glass.

The above snap is very blurry, and won’t please any photography buffs who chance upon it.  But moments later I took a shot of the Strata Tower, the one with the three propellers in its top, which came out rather better, or so I think.


Something tells me London won’t be seeing many more such new buildings for about the next decade or so.  It already feels like the end of an era, and I find myself less interested in photo-ing London these days, because it feels like it’s changing less now than it was five years ago, or will be five years hence.

But perhaps it will start changing in other ways than big buildings appearing.

Tuesday October 11 2011

Sport is fascinating not only because of the fascinating games on offer, but because of all the politics.

The R(ugby) F(ootball) U(nion), i.e. the bunch of guys who run the English game, is in a state of great confusion just now.  From what I can tell, the essence of the problem is that nobody has sufficient authority to gather everyone else around in a big pow-wow, to sort everything out.  Instead, power struggle reigns, to establish who, if anyone, has, or might in the near future have, such authority.

While England’s players were preparing for their flights, the battle for control of the RFU was intensifying, with a growing number of clubs demanding major changes, and the Government demanding an explanation over what steps the governing body will take to restore faith in its handling of the sport.

The Government.  Please no, not the Government.  Don’t they have enough to fret about already?

Rob Andrew (a former England fly half), who is currently the Director of Something Or Other for the RFU, has said that he is going to conduct a review.  But he conducted an earlier review in 2007, and in any case, half of English rugby seems to be saying: Who the hell are you to conduct a review?  You’re one of the things that ought to be reviewed?  You are going to get together with Johnson to decide if Johnson should pack it in.  How about you packing it in, you pillock.  Or words to that effect.

I don’t mean to pick on poor old Rob Andrew.  Everyone else with any pretensions to authority in English rugby seems now to be in the same position, and enduring similar abuse.

It all rather reminds me of what Kumar Sangakarra said about Sri Lankan cricket, after they’d won the cricket world cup, and after all that TV money and “professionalism” squirted into their game, turning a bunch of amiable amateurs, both players and admin guys, into a shark tank of politico-financial frenzy.

I recently read a biography of Clive Woodward, and what came over very strongly was that whereas Woodward professionalised the running of the England team, the people running English rugby as a whole remained in a state of confusion.  Woodward hoped they’d sort themselves out after England had won the World Cup, but they just wanted to relax and enjoy it.  Woodward didn’t resign the England job immediately after winning the World Cup.  He resigned somewhat later than that, because he didn’t like the continuing muddled state of the RFU.  He thought the confusion might be temporary, and that maybe he’d provoked a cure for it.  When he realised it was endemic, he then gave up.

I agree with (regular commenter here) Antoine Clarke that Martin Johnson had insufficient experience as a coach to be the coach of England.  My understanding being: none, when he got the job.  In contrast, when Clive Woodward was appointed, he not only, like Johnson, had experience as a England player, but had already coached Henley, and then London Irish, both with considerable success.  And did he not also do some coaching for Leicester?  Plus, he had studied at Loughborough, which gave him an insight into all kinds of coaching philosophies and techniques.  He also had quite a bit of business experience under his belt, having started his own company, again with considerable success.  Basically, Woodward was ready for the job.  When he had a disappointing World Cup in 1999, it was rightly decided that he was on the right lines and deserved another go.  Johnson, on the other hand, having had a comparably disappointing World Cup in 2011, is not now believed capable of doing any better, and I am inclined to agree.

If I was Johnson, I’d jack in the England job, decide if I really wanted to be a rugby coach at all, and if I decided I did, go and coach the Twiddleborough Academicals for a few years, and get them promoted from Division 7 to Division 4 (or whatever they have down there), while making a living on the rugby public speaking circuit.  Then become coach of Reading or Coventry or some such place.  Then Harlequins or Leicester.  If that doesn’t appeal, get a normal job and have a normal life.  Plus the public speaking engagements, on the basis of him at least having captained a successful World Cup team.

Trouble is, Johnson has the same problem Woodward now has whenever he tries to do anything not totally boring, which is keeping himself out of the newspapers.

As for the larger problems of the RFU, of who should run the thing, and how, I have no idea, but am very interested.  So if you think you know about that and feel inclined to tell me what I should think about it, feel free.

Sunday October 09 2011

There’s an excellent piece up at Cricinfo by Jarrod Kimber, until now known to me only as the Aussie one of the Two Chucks (whom I much enjoy), about biased cricket commentary.

Some of it:

If commentators have financial interests that may influence their opinions, shouldn’t we be told of those allegiances to players, or boards, when they are discussing them?

It’s not easy to do.  Alec Stewart does it as well as any person in cricket I’ve seen. Stewart is Matt Prior’s agent. At a press day back in 2009 he was asked whether Prior was the right man for England, and he said that as his agent it was hard to answer. He then took off his Matt Prior hat (his words, not mine) and went on to discuss why he believed, as a neutral observer and former England wicketkeeper, that Prior was the best option. Stewart clearly wasn’t wrong - Prior is now as good as any keeper-batsman in Test cricket. And Stewart, when discussing Prior, especially his limited-overs omission, is still at pains to state that he is Prior’s agent. He can’t, however, do it in every sentence. When he is working for the BBC he will have to mention Craig Kieswetter during ODIs, but it would be obscene if every time he mentioned Prior or any other keeper, he has to shoehorn into the conversation that he is Prior’s agent.

Mark Taylor is another who regularly mentions his role on Cricket Australia’s board of directors whilst speaking on Channel Nine, although mostly it is mentioned as a punchline by the other commentators.

Others don’t seem to try anywhere near as much. Throughout the whole summer of listening to Ian Botham talk about Kevin Pietersen, I can’t remember a single time when he mentioned he’s the chairman of the agency that represents Pietersen. ...

I recommend all of it.

The comments (31 so far) seem to be mostly as admiring of this piece as I am.

My bias is that being a Surrey supporter, I am pleased to learn that Alec Stewart behaves honourably in this matter, and choose the bit where it says that to put here.

I wonder what bias Jarrod Kimber has as a result of being a Chuck.

Saturday October 08 2011

Watching this video of Gary Johnson spelling out his policies more than ever convinces me that I’m going to be backing Gary Johnson for President of the USA absolutely until he stops being a candidate, and becomes either a private citizen or President of the USA.

Nor do I totally rule out him becoming President of the USA.  You think I’m mad?  So are the times we now live in.  In normal times, no chance.  No chance at all.  Absolutely none whatsoever.  But Johnson is the only one now talking about radical and immediate government spending cuts in the face of possible currency catastrophe, which he is not frightened to describe, very vividly.  All the others are frightened of being too frightening.  What if a lot of people suddenly decide that Johnson is right, or worse, suddenly discover that he’s right.  He could be the only one left standing.

Herman Cain looks better than the rest of the rest, and if Johnson does fail to get the nomination, as all well-informed observers who read this may soon be telling me he definitely will (will fail, to get the nomination, that is), I may then switch to Cain.  But only when I have to.

The intriguing thing, for me, about Cain is that he used to work at the Federal Reserve and then worked for a bank.  He knows how the evil government/bank machine at the heart of all our woes actually ticks over, or presumably he does.  That makes him far better placed to put a stop to it and set up a different and better system on the ruins of the old one.  That’s if he wants to.

But, only Johnson is talking now about the possibility of such ruins, although maybe other candidates have said such things and I missed it.

Well, I’m watching England go out of the World Cup to France.  At present it’s 16-0 to France, and who saw that coming?  Not me.  The French team seem to have decided that it’s time they started playing, and they have.

Earlier, Wales beat Ireland.  Who saw that coming?  Again, not me.

Earlier in the week, Michael Jennings recorded a conversation between him, me, Patrick Crozier and Antoine Clarke.  Antoine, like everyone, was pretty unimpressed by France, and in particular by Marc Lievremont.  But if France win this, as they look like doing, and if they then beat Wales (as they are also entirely capable of doing) and if they then upset the All Blacks in the final (ditto), will the Lievremont method be enthroned in rugby fan esteem?  Coaches everywhere will play totally different teams from one match to the next, and make a point of playing non-fly-halfs at fly-half, trying it first in a World Cup game against the All Blacks.

England have just scored a try.  I was just about to put that England are attacking, but look laboured.  This conversion has to go over.  It does.  In the first half, France scored two tries, but only kicked two kicks out of quite a few more than that.  Will this return to bite them?  Probably not.

In that recorded conversation, the most eloquent points were made by Antoine, not about the actual games in this tournament, but concerning the process of qualification.  He said something like: “The Christmas Islands had to play about thirty games over four years to qualify.  Wales had to play no games at all.  This is obscene.” He didn’t use the word “cartel”, but he easily might have.  Good that the most important thing that got said will outlast any silly guesses we made about who would win the actual World Cup.  I guessed Ireland to win it all, and said Wales would be the most surprising winners other than Argentina.  We all agreed that NZ were looking unbeatable, but would find a way to be beaten.

France, stung by that England try, are looking to finish this off.  Less than twenty minutes to go.

Tuilagi - is that how he’s spelt? (it certainly isn’t how he’s pronounced) - has looked good all tournament.

France scrum looks well on top.  Shots of insanely dressed French fans celebrating.  Well, they deserve to be happy, after all the misery Lievremont has put them through.  France attacking again, with just ten minutes to go.  If England can’t scamper to the other end and score this will soon be over.  Oh.  France seem to have scored another three points, some way or another, and now lead 19-7.  A drop goal by Frenchman number 20.  That means England have to get two tries.  No chance.  England bashing away but it’s too much.  Or is it?  Have England scored?  I think yes.  Video refs confer.  Try.  This also has to go over.  No.  19-12.  “What a come back it would be”, says a commentator.  Indeed.

I’ve spent most of the game resigned to England losing, and still am resigned, so am not now suffering that much.  I still think it’s all done.  Seconds left.  But, I fancy Wales to beat France.  England retreating.  80 minutes up.  Penalty France, and they win.  Final twist of the dagger.  It hit the post and bounced out, but might have bounced into an England hand, at which point England would have tried to score a converted try at the other end.  Only a bounce off the post could have had that outcome.

Thursday October 06 2011

Michael Jennings just sent me a link to a piece by Joss Voorhees Farhad Manjoo about the recently deceased Man Who Invented Our World.  No prize for knowing who that is.

Opening paragraph:

I saw the news of Steve Jobs’ death on a device that he invented - the iPhone - and I’m writing on another machine that he willed into being: the graphical interface computer. I happen to be using a PC running Windows, with generic hardware I put together myself; technically, only my keyboard was made by Apple. But none of that matters. Just like the touch-screen smartphone and, now, the tablet computer, the PC that you and I use every day became ubiquitous thanks mainly to this one man. I’ll go further: Whether you’re yearning for a Kindle Fire or a BlackBerry PlayBook, whether you play Angry Birds on an iPod Touch or Google’s Nexus Prime, whether you’re a Mac or a PC, you’ve succumbed to Steve Jobs’ master plan.

“Willed into being”.  That sums up the man’s achievement and way of working beautifully.  As I understand him, Jobs was essentially the spokesman for us consumers amongst the great Community of Geeks, which is why he was so loved by so many of us consumers.  He was the one saying: “It’s not good enough that you can make it work.  It has to be easy for humans as well.  It has to be nice.  It has to be cool.  Do it again.”

Michael sent me the link because, like me, Voorhees Manjoo uses a Mac keyboard attached to a PC.  In fact, I think my Apple Mac keyboard is the only piece of Apple kit I have ever owned.  But I enthusiastically endorse what Voorhees Manjoo says, and here record my profound thanks to Steve Jobs for the profound influence he has had, not just on Apple and its products, but upon the entire world.  I didn’t “succumb” to the Steve Jobs master plan.  I accepted it with enthusiasm.

The Samizdata commentariat is saying what it has to say about Jobs here.  I particularly liked this, from Rob Fisher:

Yes, this is terrible news.

It bothers me that even with the resources at his disposal, Jobs could not keep himself alive. I’m attending a conference on Saturday at which life extension technology will be discussed. If the optimists there are correct, one day we’ll all be much richer than Steve Jobs.

Detlev Schlichter also just sent out an emailshot recommending this.  Haven’t yet watched it, but will.

Saturday October 01 2011

Well here I am watching England v Scotland in the Rugby World Cup, and so far it’s been almost all Scotland, maybe because it’s raining and they love that.  Only after about half an hour have England started to do anything.  Parks has landed two tricky penalties into the wind, with the second one being adjudicated with the help of television.  A first, apparently.  And until just now, Wilkinson was on 0 and 3.  0 and 3.  Wilkinson.  It’s now 1 and 4, with Scotland leading 6-3, but if England can’t rely on Wilkinson, then as all their enemies (i.e. the rest of the world) say, what do they have?

The scrum seems to be a perpetual bore, with all this “touch” pause “pause” pause “engage” nonsense from the ref, which (a) seems to go on for ever, and which (b) still falls to pieces.  However, this time, it is only the England scrum that is falling to pieces.

Drop goal from Dan Parks, and at half time it’s England 3 Scotland 9.  Where was Parks and his drop goaling when Scotland were playing Argentina?  Can England pull themselves together and win this?  My understanding is that if they don’t win, they’ll be in the strong, otherwise Northern Hemisphere half of the draw, and after losing to Scotland won’t frighten anyone there, except themselves.

If Scotland win, but without the bonus point from winning by eight points (or whatever it is) or more, they won’t go through at all.  So at least England might take Scotland with them into nowhere land.

They’re showing the England scrum giving away penalties.  Not pretty.  It’s all looking very much like Rugby is Only A Game.

There’s just been a great tackle by Tui … langi?  Followed by some England attacking down the left.  Better.  But Scotland are doing well at the line-out.  England back on the attack.  If they can keep hold of the ball they look a threat.

Another scrum, more grief for England.

When the weather is wet, rugby is more of a lottery.  Here in England we are having a first burst of truly hot (as well as cloudless) weather of the entire year so far.  Hot weather is left wing.  Have you noticed that?

England have just won a Scotland scrum!  England attack.  England knock-on.  Too many England errors.  But, another England turn over at the scrum.  Better.  Wilkinson misses a drop goal.  He’s the weak link.  I’ll say it again.  Wilkinson is the weak link.  Is this his last England game?  Nevertheless, England as a whole look stronger.  If they could just score a try.  Not this time, England give it away and Scotland attack.  Scotland nearly score!  Scotland penalty, it’s good.  Scotland need to win by “8 points or more” and now lead by 9.

Until today I was happy with England’s progress, and may yet be, if they can win this.  Hey, Wilkinson puts over a drop goal!  Scotland back needing more points.  As I was saying, I was happy with England.  Everyone moaned about their early wins, but at least they were wins.  Argentina are hellishly difficult to beat, and England beat them.

Lots of displacement activity from me, rearranging CDs in CD shelves.  Another penalty success from Wilkinson!  England look threatening now.  England 9 Scotland 12.  If England can just scramble a win here, I’ll be back defending them.

What happens if it ends in a draw?

Another Wilkinson penalty attempt.  Just short.

The England scrum seems to be working better now.  The reason I’m unclear about the details of this game is that another of my displacement activities just now is listening to CD Review, where they’re comparing all the Bruckner 8s. 

Penalty to England.  If this goes over, it becomes 12 all, with minutes left.  If it stays like that, then, according to my calculations, England will win the group.  But, England go to the corner.

Ashton scores on the right!  England ahead!  “You can only feel sympathy for Scotland!” Well, I can think of a few other feelings I can feel.  Hah!!!  Toby Flood gave the scoring pass, a big miss-out looper.  He seems to have made a difference.

No swallow diving by Ashton this time.  Flood nails the conversion.  Flood is looking very good.  16-12.  That conversion means Scotland have to score a try, and, well, until now, Scotland haven’t done tries.  We’re past the 80 minutes mark, the next stoppage does it.  England win!

I have lots of recordings of Bruckner 8, but none of three the BBC has just recommended.  Bugger.

So, it’s official.  England are now the Germany of the rugby World Cup.  They look rubbish in early games.  But then the prettier teams knock each other out, and hey presto, a month later England are still in it.  That’s what happened last time.  I hope that happens again.

Apparently Tonga beat France.  Hah!!  (All the pool results so far are to be found here.) Looks like if Tonga could only have beaten Canada also, that would have meant France being out of it.  I think.  Antoine Clarke (pronounced Claire for the duration) won’t be happy.