All entries for September 2005
September 25, 2005
10pts Fernando Alonso: Well it had to be, didn't it? What can you say about him that ITV haven't already repeated three million times before? I'm going to gazump F1 Racing with their tendency to hail drivers as giga-stars, Alonso is a tera-star! And surely one of the best icons in the sports. Not wild like Raikkonen, cool and aloof like Schumacher, shifty like Button, sulky like Montoya, Barrichello, Ralf, Villeneuve, Webber and Coulthard etc… Just an out and out hero. As F1 drivers go he's a great role model. If I were to be any of the current grid I'd want to be Alonso. I'm not sure what the best superlative is so here's a list of them:
Good? Oh yes, Ron Dennis's response to Alonso's drive. He seemed about to say "Alonso had a great drive", but he paused and we were left with "good". A touch of sour grapes. I'm not sure Dennis has any other kind.
The most incredible thing about his season is how difficult it is to pick out his best drive. Monaco, Canada and Hungary excluded he's been absolutely fantastic (ha! There it is). Overall I'd go for Australia because it was so gutsy and aggressive, but it seems rude to ignore his wins. France stands out because McLaren were really tightening the screws, personally I think he'd have beaten Raikkonen even without the Finn's engine penalty.
So what's the best description for him? How about "World Champion". It says it all.
8pts Christian Klien: A great qualifying performance and what must have been a great drive, even if we only saw all of ten seconds of it. I do hope James Allen is talking nonsense with his suggestion that Klien will end up in the Red Bullardi team because of his great performances this year.
6pts Juan Pablo Montoya: Hurray! All year long I've been half concealing my support for the driver at last I can rave about him without feeling (too) silly. It's an even better performance if his shoulder still gives him problems (though I doubt it. Old injuries are supposed to be worse in the cold, yet he won in Britain. Strange.) He didn't seem to suffer from going anti-clockwise, not like that wuss Raikkonen. That wuss Raikkonen who's fastest lap was four tenths quciker than Montoya's. hmmm.
5pts Tiago Monteiro: How incredible was that for a result in qualifying? Though given that he started from the pitlane (ie. a convenient chance to stop for some 4 star) you have to wonder how many fumes he actually qualified with. My best guess is two and half. An F1 team using qualifying as a chance to gain some publicity at the expense of race perfromance? Surely not!
4pts Michael Schumacher: Thinking back, this is only the second race Schumacher's managed to improve upon his 2004 result. It says more about the rest fo his year but he broke the dominance of the "big-two", which is no mean feat. And his battle with Fisichella was the best of the race. Talk about an aggressive first lap. He may only be a matter of months away from announcing his retirement but he ain't giving no quarter.
3pts Jacques Villeneuve: Say what you will about his driving (usually a negative thing) but his interviews make for great reading. In the latest F1 Racing he lays into Patrick Head (lots) F1 Racing itself (lots) David Richards (lots and lots and lots) and anyone else who happens to get in his way.
2pts Rubens Barrichello: A nice move on Button, even if maybe it took too long. He might not have had a great year, but at least Rubens hasn't forgotten hwo to overtake.
1pt Takuma Sato: A good drive, I think. As in "I think you need to take the A1 at some point to get to Newcastle" Rather than "I think Newcastle is a dive." The distinction comes from having seen nothing of him all weekend after he didn't set a time in qualifying. Given Sato's usual antics perhaps it's better we don't see what he gets up to.
-1pt Kimi Raikkonen: You sort of felt sorry for him, losing the race and the title all in one go. But his sulky demeanour on the podium was an abject display of how not to accept defeat. He should take a few tips from Mika Hakkinen and ask him about surrendering his crown to Schumacher in 2000. I suppose you can't reallly blame him but it wasn't a great display of sporting behaviour, and I'd rate it at the worst effort of champagne spraying for years.
-2pts Jarno Trulli: Even by Trulli's standards this was a poor race. It was almost as if he was trying to slip down the order without realising he was starting from the back anyway.
-3pts Jenson Button: Finally The issue of where Button drives has been resolved, with the driver dipping into his own pocket to buy out his contract. Except for the fact that it would appear that BAR have upped his wage, presumably by the same amount. On the issue of contracts there are rumours of Steve Ryder moving to ITV in spite of being contracted to the BBC. It's exciting stuff, what next? Fleetwood Mac being brought back for the theme music?
-4pts Mark Webber: For a driver who has achieved so little in a season and whinged so much he's very high up the order in my championship. This is a little bit of compensation
46pts Fernando Alonso
36pts Mark Webber
35pts Nick Heidfeld
34pts Christian Klien
33pts Kimi Raikkonen
32pts David Coulthard
31pts Giancarlo Fisichella
24pts Juan Pablo Montoya
22pts Jarno Trulli
22pts Christijan Albers
22pts Michael Schumacher
14pts Robert Doornbos
12pts Jenson Button
10pts Narain Karthikeyan
9pts Felipe Massa
9pts Pedro de la Rosa
6pts Patrick Friesacher
5pts Antonio Pizzonia
4pts Tiago Monteiro
2pts Vitantonio Liuzzi
-2pts Takuma Sato
-4pts Rubens Barrichello
-6pts Ralf Schumacher
-29pts Jacques Villeneuve
September 22, 2005
We've all been there merrily walking down the street, we come up behind someone walking slower, we try to go past them, but lo! Suddenly they veer right into your path causing you to stop abruptly, bump into them or swerve out of the way into the path of a double decker bus, causing your own death (or at least severe injury) and delaying the traffic resulting in a backlog of congestion in our already overcrowded cities. Many people don't get to work on time having a disasterous effect on the economy, causing hyper inflation giving rise to a hotbed of political extremity and before you know it we have World War 3 on our hands. If only there were some way of avoiding all this unpleasantness.
Well now there is. Mad scientists have invented human indicators. They attach to the back of people through bionics and are wired up to the brain. They sense when a person is about to deviate from their current path and start flashing. The government is highly in favour of the scheme and have moved valuable resources away from pointless things like education and health to fund the project.
There were some initial teething problems. For instance, when male subjects were testing the device issues occured when they walked past lingerie stores. The indicators would start flashing insanely confusing the male's natural urges with a desire to go into the shop. This was very embarrassing so scientists had to fit a "bra-detector" (invented in 1978 in Luxembourg as a way of finding women after the entire female population pretended to be men for a bit of a laugh) to the indicators. If a man with the lights goes past an area densely packed with bras then the indicators will not flash.
Whilst many are delighted with the new invention some sections have raised concerns about mixing human beings with technology. The We're Really paranoid about Killer Robots and Stuff Society (Now with a club at Sheffield Hallam as well as Warwick) fear similar consequences to those produced by Otto Octavious' experiments in Spiderman. "People think that Spiderman 2 was just a film" begins Pru McTractor, president of WRPAKRASS's Hallam branch, "but it could happen. You start fitting indicators to people and who knows where it could end up? The indicators might take over their bodies and drive them to Conservative Party headquarters forcing them to join up. And can you imagine if this indicator rebellion spreads to cars? You'd have people going left at roundabouts but indicating right! Can you imagine?!"
However the financial carrot on offer for perfecting these devices in massive. And since physicists proved in 1836 that money makes the world go round, their presence is inevitable.
September 16, 2005
The University of Warwick was founded in 1965. A common misconception is that the university takes it name from the town of Warwick whose district council put forward funds for the institution at its birth. This a myth put about by those pompous people who like Warwick to sound grand and impressive.
In actual fact the university was founded by four militant candle makers from Coventry with the proximity to Warwick town being a mere coincidence. They invented a special candle wick which when lit reacted with the candle wax and exploded, these wicks were known as War-Wicks and became common place. It was on the back of this success that they founded the university, giving it the name of their invention. The hyphen was dropped and the second "w" made silent to confuse Americans.
Notable moments in Warwick History
When the university was first built it was upside down due to a clerical error. Someone mistakedly ticked the "build upside down" box on the plans. This issue was corrected by getting a few thousand people to stand at one of the far edges of the university and jump up and down, thus causing it to flip over. This caused a big mess at what became the top (previously the bottom) of the university. This mess was named Canley.
Officially no UFOs have ever crashed at the University, however unofficially the story goes like this:
In 1972 a spaceship crashed in the heart of the campus. Rather than attempting the cover up the crash, denying the the incident ever occured in the face of the crashed spaceship clearly being outside the Arts Centre, the powers that be in a rare move of genius unveiled the craft as a piece of modern art known as the Koan – more commonly known as the cone by clever scientists or that bloody weird thing with lights that makes a noise by foolish artists.
Supposedly the Cryfield residences are haunted by the ghosts of people hanged at Gibbet Hill, however more recently a much larger and more sinister spectre has appeared: the ridiculously pointedly mentioned ghost of the British Higher Education system. An entity brutally slaughtered using the money gained from tuition fees.
Also the Union is supposedly inhabited by ghosts. From time to time they possess students on nights out and make them behviour strangely, such as pulling odd people, dancing like a twat and in extreme cases losing the ability to walk.
10pts Jenson Button: Anyone who overtakes is okay in my book. A dubious performance in qualifying – not that I saw it, I sat in a café in the Peak District at the time. If anything interesting happened like a herd of wilderbeast invading the track please let me know. But it meant he had to race hard and that was good for us the viewer.
8pts Mark Webber: It must have been a brave decision to go on to grooves when previous attempts by drivers to do so had resulted in pirouetting of the sort that would make a ballet dancer look on with envy of such abilities. It was odd how the track refused to dry. My best guess was that it was suffering from the same curse that my clothes have after being to the laundrette when I desperately want them to dry for the following day. I don’t suppose ironing a racing track to speed up the process would be much help.
6pts Jacques Villeneuve: I had’t realised how old Jacques Villeneuve was looking these days until he was offering his comments on Alonso. So credit (Suisse) where credit (Suisse) is due, the reputation of elderly drivers is not the best, Jacques may not seem as quick as he was but he’s still a damn sight quicker than the OAPs you follow at thirty miles an hour along country roads.
5pts Tiago Monteiro: F1s most improved rookie of the year showed again some real skill. Remember how utterly bad he seemed at the start of the year? Jordan would have been better off with Chanoch Nissany. Yet he’s now scored some real points, you can’t help but be impressed.
4pts Giancarlo Fisichella: After his qualifying third and then making great progress in the race after an engine change, you couldn’t help but wonder if the old “fisi” was back, alas for Eau Rouge, though I blame Renault for making him have to push harder to make his way up to somewhere useful.
3pts Michael Schumacher: He was making Rubens Barrichello look like a clown, unfortunately Sato showed us that there’s only one real clown (okay, two real clowns – I was forgetting Montoya) in F1. I’d like to know why there was such a huge gap in front of Schumacher after the safety car went in, there was another after the first six or so cars too. It’s the sort of bug that ruins otherwise good computer games, maybe it’s a case of real life imitating (electronic) arts.
2pts Fernando Alonso: He’s making the most of a points system that differentiates so little between finishing first and second. As early as seven rounds into the championship he could have finished second from then on and still been assured of the title. Though if you do the maths his lead at this stage would still be a commanding twenty points.
1pt Ralf Schumacher: For a while it looked like we were going to be treated to a show of brilliance by fast-Ralf (as opposed to sulky-let-his-teammate-do-all-the-work-Ralf). But then came that silly decision to put on slicks. Naturally if it had worked it would have been pure genius.
-1pt Christian Klien: I’ve been saying throughout the year how under-rated he is but then he puts in a performance every bit as damp as the Spa weather. On the plus side it proves my theory about his improved driving being related to the threat of losing his drive on account that he’s surely got a drive at one of the Red Bull teams.
-3pts Rubens Barrichello: Rubens seems to have entered the zone of “got a drive for next year, can’t be arsed with Ferrari anymore”.
-5pts Antonio Pizzonia: What was he thinking? You have to wonder if there’s some sort of pact between the drivers to punt Montoya off when they’re being lapped by him. Pizzonia and Monteiro would do well to top Verstappen’s effort in Brazil 2001 – that sort of idiocy takes some beating. To Pizzonia’s credit he did at least have the decency to say sorry.
-6pts Kimi Raikkonen: Not content with messing around with inflatable toys during the off season he was found half naked (I don’t know which half, the left?) in a garden near Monza and received a written warning from Ron Dennis. Rumours that this garden belonged to a taylor specialising in red racing overalls have yet to be confirmed. I had to laugh when on the ITV pre-race show there was a feature going through Raikkonen’s diet, they missed out the beer! I bet he has cheeky fry ups when Ron’s not looking too. In all fairness a “wild” lifestyle doesn’t seem to slow him down.
_-10pts Takuma Sato: It just gets worse and worse for Sato. The phrase “it ain’t happening” springs to mind, along with “here’s your P45”.
With just three rounds to go the alternative championship is much, much closer than the real one. The fact that Kimi Raikkonen, who looked likely to storm the title, had six points taken off for dubious reasons is of course not related to trying to fix the scores so the title is decided as late as possible, another difference from the real championship. And while we’re on the topic, is anyone else concerned about Bernie Ecclestone? What was that about him wanting the title to go as far as Japan? Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m not by the way, it’s just a turn of phrase) but isn’t the last round in China? Poor bloke doesn’t even know which race to go to next, I do hope he doesn’t end up in Adelaide in the middle of October.
40pts Mark Webber
36pts Fernando Alonso
35pts Nick Heidfeld
34pts Kimi Raikkonen
32pts David Coulthard
31pts Giancarlo Fisichella
26pts Christian Klien
24pts Jarno Trulli
22pts Christijan Albers
18pts Juan Pablo Montoya
18pts Michael Schumacher
15pts Jenson Button
14pts Robert Doornbos
10pts Narain Kathrikeyan
9pts Felipe Massa
9pts Pedro de la Rosa
6pts Patrick Friesacher
5pts Antonio Pizzonia
2pts Vitantonio Liuzzi
-1pt Tiago Monteiro
-3pts Takuma Sato
-6pts Rubens Barrichello
-6pts Ralf Schumacher
-32pts Jacques Villeneuve
10pts Toyota: I walked past a panasonic shop and in the window was a TV with a Toyota F1 car going round a track, finally this is a good thing, rather than an "Oh my God! Panasonic are associated with Toyota, bugger this I'm buying a Sony" type thing
8pts Diet Red Bull (aka Minardi): Oh come on, it was too easy a joke to leave out. It’s a sad day for Formula 1 with the last vestige of true independence leaving the sport, though with Dieter Mateschitz seemingly hell bent on buying the whole grid what chance did they have? I’m surprised the manufacturers haven’t cottoned onto this yet, though apparently McLaren are considering running a “B-team” in 2007, Maccy Bs perhaps? What next, the prancing ponies? Oh, I’m on fire today!
6pts Red Bull: There are rumours that Minardi will become Red Bull Team USA. Which is quite exciting if your name is Scott.
5pts McLaren: McLaren and their sponsors have a carefully thought out image they want to convey, they don’t need Raikkonen spoiling it by exposing more flesh than is absolutely necessary. That’s not what companies like Mercedes, Johnnie Walker and Hilton hotels are about. Hmm, the name Hilton and nudity? Nope, can’t think of any jokes there.
_4pts Sauber:_If it weren't for putting slicks on Massa's car they could have been on the podium, or at least maybe in fourth, which is Sauber's favourite best-result-of-the-year position.
3pts Williams: They might be very qucikly running out of sponsors but at least the on track performance is improving.
_2pts Jordan:_The team's first genuine points since Monaco last year at their "favourite" track. Maybe it's got something to do with chips. Belgians like chips. Chips are yellow, Jordans are yellow. I'm not sure where I'm going with this.
1pt BAR: Disappointing in qualifying, much better in the race. Given McLaren's performances in the first three races of the season this might bode very well, or it might mean bugger all. I know which I'm going for.
-2pts Ferrari: Before the Belgian Grand Prix you’d have thought Ferrari’s best chance of winning a real race would be if it were rain affected, preferably with as much as possible being run on intermediate tyres. Well, that appears to be nonsense, though without out Sato’s assault on Schumacher’s gearbox then maybe it could have been a bit better.
58pts Red Bull
September 14, 2005
This week has seen a surge in the use of petrol stations after the Supermarkets ran out of Milk Chocolate Hob-Nobs. This is because there are fears that the supply of Hob-Nobs may be cut off completely if plans for a bloackade of Hobs goes ahead. There are no fears of a shortage of Nobs, as anyone who goes in HMV will tell you there is an abundance of people buying James Blunt CDs. Indeed the amount of Nobs in this country alone would be enough to theoretically last until 2:34pm January 6th 3512 (approx.)
Mass queues have formed outside petrol stations across the country with the media fueling the situation out of all proportion. Queues as long as ten miles, or 160,000 Hob-Nob tubes stacked in a line, have formed as people are worried that they might run out of Hob-Nobs before the end of the week.
The proposed blockade of Hobs is because of spiraling Hob-tax and a general rising trend in the price of Hobs. Over the summer the poor weather and enthralling Ashes Series have resulted in lots of people staying inside and drinking tea and eating Hob-Nobs, resulting in a Hob crisis as suppliers bumped up prices to match the demand. Tautologically students, slackers and fat people are furious that their number one pastime now costs so much and are wanting to "sit around and be lazy."
One worried customer had this to say: "I'm worried because next week it's my turn to host the Wooly Hat Wearing Club Afternoon Tea, without out a good supply of Hob-Nobs I'll be a laughing stock. I know that it's still a week away but you have to be sure." One Hob-Nob buyer claimed to have enough Hob-Nobs to last until the next time England win the Ashes Series.
Consumer groups are angry with the government, claiming the high tax on Hobs is an attempt to force people to be more healthy. The reasoning is that many people may have to resort to eating horrible fruit if they can no longer afford Hob-Nobs.
On a happier note the heroic England cricket team has deservedly been able to sort out a supply of Hob-Nobs for their celebrations over the coming weeks. This month was Kevin Pieterson's turn to get the shopping in and after struggling to find anywhere selling Hob-Nobs he made the most of other shoppers' inability to hold on to Hob-Nob tubes: "There's been a lot of pressure on me, I've copped a bit of stick this week. Fortunately a few catches went down and I took full advantage."
Other Hob-Nob lovers may not be so fortunate but are urged not to buy unecessary supplies as the government is certain a fuel scale crisis can be averted if everyone stays sensible.
September 13, 2005
As previously reported in this blog, squirrels are evil. Here is a chart showing the top ten most evil entities ever:
1. Lord Sauron 100% Evil
2. Adolf Hitler 99% Evil
= The Emperor 99% Evil
4. Joseph Stalin 97% Evil
5. Lord Voldemort 96% Evil
6. Squirrels 94% Evil
7. Manchester United Fans 93% Evil
= Bambi 93% Evil
9. Broccoli 92% Evil
10. Stiffler from American Pie 91% Evil
In the previous blog entry I drew attention to squirrels pretending to be rabbits in order to get into people's homes. Now they've taken on grander designs. Here is a picture of the University of Warwick Students Union taken with a normal camera. Try to spot any disguised squirrels. I'll give you a clue, there are four of them.
Can you see them? Here's some help: this is the same shot, but taken with a special camera that conveniently put's circles around any disguised squirrels.
How many did you manage to get? Not many? Without the special camera it's very difficult indeed, but not impossible. I'll give you some tips.
- Look at the fiesta, do you notice how it's parked next to another similar car? This a typical squirrel trick: imitation. If you see two things together that look the same, the chances are that one of them is a squirrel in disguise. The same rule applies to the light bollard.
- Squirrels like to disguise as signs. Think about it for a minute. The best place to hide is the last place someone would think to look. People always look at signs in order to see where they are going. So only a fool would hide as a sign because so many people would see it, right? Wrong. Because of this signs are the best things to disguise as. No one expects it. It's a classic case of missing what's right under your nose. This is why in the picture the signs for the Union and Xananananananas are in fact squirrels.
If you bear these in mind then you'll have a much better chance of fighting the squirrels. It's gotten to the point where squirrels could be anywhere, before they only appeared in isolated areas. You have been warned.
September 08, 2005
10pts Antonio Pizzonia: He hadn’t driven a Formula 1 car in three months, and by the looks of it hadn’t had a hair cut in that time either. Yet he finished in his usual seventh place. I believe the nickname pizzaman is a little out-dated, sure when he had to pop down to Dominoes’ to pick up Montoya’s meat feast in his Williams days it would have been okay, but with “super-fit” (teehee) Mark Webber driving perhaps lentil man would be more appropriate.
8pts Juan Pablo Montoya: His first pole position for McLaren (sort of) and a well driven win. Though the most notable thing about montoya in Italy is that he didn't mess up somewhere. For a whole weekened. Astonishing.
6pts Jarno Trulli: The Jarno Trulli school of racing: qualify well, make a good start, hold everyone up. He looked like he was going to adhere to this, but after dropping back to sixth he actually managed to gain places during the pit stops. Very odd.
5pts Giancarlo Fisichella: On the podium again at last. It was a sign of how desparate things had gotten for Fisichella when he almost got lost on the way to the rostrum. Well, it had been a while.
4pts Jacques Villeneuve: Kimi Raikkonen's "nemisis". Okay, so it was Villeneuve who caused Kimi to lock up at the Nurburgring but I doubt very much that he registers on the Finn's radar much, except for when he's getting lapped. It was a better performance at Monza, even if he still ended up behind Massa.
3pts Fernando Alonso: When he becomes champion he'll make history. That's right, the first Champion to do card tricks.
2pts Takuma Sato: Compared with some of Sato's other performances this season Monza was a big improvement. If only BAR hadn't put enough fuel in his car to get it back to Brackley.
1pt Kimi Raikkonen: Why on earth would he want to go to Ferrari? Supposedly he's signed something, but what exactly? An autograph for Jean Todt on a napkin, which the Ferrari boss had sneakily folded over so Kimi couldn't see the words above saying "I promise to drive for Ferrari"?
-1pt Christijan Albers: If he has a contract for 2006 in his briefcase (do F1 drivers have briefcases? I'd imagine the luggage capacity fo the Minardi is somewhat limited) he'd better sign it quickly before Doornbos starts showing him up.
-2pts Mark Webber: He didn't impress much, his efforts to overtake Coulthard were pretty pathetic. Added to that a "loser" who "couldn't do as well in races [as in testing]" was Williams' star driver in Italy.
-10pts Jenson Button: I'm completely bored of Button-gate II. You want some embellishment on that? I told you. I'm bored of it.
10pts Toyota: The most improved team of the year and aren't they getting close to Ferrari? If they beat them then maybe, just maybe, Toyota aren't the absolute most over-funded team in the pit lane.
8pts Williams: Where did that come from? They only came away with seventh place, but throughout the weekend (except unfortunately for qualifying) they were right on the pace. Given that they're using an engine that's fundamentally a year older than everyone elses it's nto bad going.
6pts McLaren: That car is fast. It's only taken three years of development from the MP4_18A to make one that works okay. Now for the reliability.
5pts Renault: If the McLaren wasn't so unreliable Kimi would be leading the championship. That's all well and good but if the Minardi was quicker than the rest then they'd be winning. Let's not get silly with Ifs and Buts, the F1 championship (these days) is for teams to build fast cars to last all weekend, er two weekends, not just for a couple of practise sessions. Renault have done this.
2pts Sauber: They beat their primary competition, which is, er, Red Bull and…
1pt Red Bull: I'm a (the?) fan of Christian Klien, but it's a bit curious that he's been given the nod ahead of Liuzzi for Spa. Only I'm not sure what it tells us: are they trying to beat BAR to sixth in the constructors championship? Are they going to drop Klien but want to be nice and give him a few more drives? (yeah right!) Does Liuzzi not know the way to Belgium? But then Red Bull are the people who brought you such ideas on driver selection as "No Peter don't sign that rubbish Finn who's only driven in Formula Renault, take Enrique Bernoldi on, oh go on!"
-1pt Minardi: A bunch of Russian business men represented by Eddie Irvine want to buy Minardi. Red Bull want to buy part of Minardi. Flavio Briatore used to co-own Minardi, Bernie Ecclestone "invested" in Minardi to save their butts. Wait for the "Schumacher to buy Minardi" rumours next year when the seven times champion announces his retirement next year.
-2pts Jordan: They did at least get the better of the Minardis, but what difference did the new car make? Bugger all by the looks of things. Following reports that Anthony Davidson might be on his way to the team next year Jordan relationship counciller (or whatever) Johnny Herbert made an interesting quote regarding Karthikeyan's and Monteiro's chances of driving next year: "I guess they are in the picture but of course we've got to look at what is out there at the same time." Roughly translated it sounds like they have next to no chance.
-3pts Ferrari: At the rate things are going Rossi might be better off adding stabilisers to his Yamaha and going F1 racing on that rather than signing for Ferrari.
-4pts BAR: For the aformentioned over-fill of Sato's car and generally not being good enough.
September 01, 2005
At festivals you get plied with freebies – evidently they’ve done a bit of research into the sort of things students like: free things is of course the top answer. Amongst this is lots of condoms – what on earth am I going to use them for? I might be over crediting a condom’s emotive capacity but they must despair once they get handed to me because the chances of them getting used plummets to somewhere between zero and nil. The extent to which this is true is easy to seen in the fact that I now have a sizeable collection of condoms in a draw that have been handed out at festivals and around university by well meaning types trying to protect the well being of festival goers and students, but unwittingly wasting the earth’s rubber supplies.
With the onset of the last day comes a desperation to watch as many bands as possible in order to get your money’s worth. This meant spending a little time watching the Unsigned Bands Stage. We saw The Last People On Earth, or at least they claimed to be. They’re from Hull. Cue the inevitable jokes about how if the last people on earth are from Hull then we’re all screwed. More to the point I wonder how we’d end up with such a scenario. My best guess would be that anyone hell bent on destroying the planet would take one look at the place and reckon somebody else had gotten there first.
We took a quick trip to the Carling Stage where we caught Youth Group, who apparently feature the bassist from the Vines. Any hopes that Youth Group might have more in common with them than a member were short lived as they very nearly put me to sleep.
Another stage and another band as we went to watch The Cribs in the NME tent. I’d seen them play last year and they were brilliantly energetic, so I had high hopes of a repeat performance. And again they managed to put on a good show. Next on the bill was Nine Black Alps – supposedly the new Nirvana. Seeing as how I can’t stand Nirvana I’m not really sure that there was much point in me checking them out. The comparison was fairly accurate, which meant I didn’t enjoy it all. However for fans of depressing, moaning music they’re probably very good.
I chose the moments after Nine Black Alps had finished to demonstrate my incredible abilities of getting lost and separated from my friends. After a ping-pong match of text messages we were reunited and went to the Carling Stage to watch Mystery Jets, I can’t say I was particularly bothered about seeing them play – the main reason for watching them was in order to get into the tent for the Arctic Monkeys who were on after.
The NME in their infinite wisdom had put them in their list of fifty-one reasons to go the Leeds/Reading weekend. Given that Leeds is just up the M1 from Sheffield the impending crush and lack of oxygen that came with the band’s presence on stage hardly came as a shock. My friends moaned that most of the people there were just trying to be part of the scene and that the music isn’t even that good. Which is all very well, except why were we there? It was the second time I’d seen the band play inside a month and I enjoyed it. At least I would have done if I hadn’t had someone’s elbows in my back. And ribs. And stomach. And my own elbows. And pretty much any part of the human anatomy you’d care to mention.
Our trip to the comedy tent for the day was to see Ed Byrne. He raised a few laughs but his whole act seemed to rely upon his: being Irish, being skinny, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. His best moment was:
Ed Byrne: “I was at the Reading Festival yesterday”
Ed Byrne: “You do realise it’s the same festival just in a different place?”
Which is fundamentally true, but Leeds is much better.
It was a short hop from the comedy tent to the Carling Stage after Ed Byrne had finished to watch the end of Yeti’s set. They’re the band fronted by the Libertines bassist. I was told not to expect anything like the Libertines, but I’d dispute that. They did have a similar sound, except – and you’ll find this a bizarre statement – with a bit of a country vibe in there. Whatever it was it worked okay.
I must take a few moments to pay tribute to the great freebie my friend Chris got from the V festival: an inflatable beer holder. You know how it is. You're drinking a can of (warm) beer and you want to pick something else up. You put the beer down on the ground but gravity's having none of it. Before you know it half your beer is on your jeans and everyone's pointing and laughing.
The evening run was kicked off by Arcade Fire in the NME tent. They were most notable for the fact that they seemed to have enough drummers for all the bands at the festival. I counted at least three. Perhaps Oasis ought to get in touch – they get through drummers at a similar rate to most people get through milk cartons. It was an interesting performance largely because it was so different from anything else I saw all weekend.
Due after Arcade Fire was Babyshambles, would they or wouldn't they turn up? Would they be any good? Does anyone really care anymore? As it happens they did manage to make it onto the stage, albeit ten minutes late. You could argue that they were fashionably late, but everyone else managed to get there on time. What's so special about a band who have only managed to release two singles? We didn't stick around for long as we wanted to get in position for the Foo Fighters in good time but what we saw wasn't exactly spectacular.
However the Foo Fighters more than made up for any inadequacies of the other bands. There's something extra special about the last night of a festival especially when it's to see a band as uttely brilliant as the Foo Fighters.
Dave Grohl really knows how to play to the crowd, unfortunately when I've seen them play in the past there's been a little too much chat, when all you want them to do is get on with rocking. On this occasion though he managed to keep the talking to a minimum and stuck to blasting out great song after great song. Up in Arms and The One were particular highlights.
The one criticism would be the sucking up to the crowd. "I gotta tell you guys something," someone stod behind us figured out what was coming and pre-emptively shouted out "bullshit!" Dave Grohl then proceeded to tell us that he loves Reading (crowd boos) but people in the north are more "f*ked up" and that he likes f*ked up. I think it was a compliment though I'm not entirely sure.
For the encore we were treated to Grohl taking up the sticks behind the drums and Taylor Hawkins singing on one the tracks from the acoustic album – I'll be damned if I know which one.
Back at the tents and the campsite nazis, or security as they call themselves, were out in force stamping out fires. We saw one instance of a festival goer being brutally thrown to the floor and handcuffed, all because of a fire. Cue us stamping frantically upon our own, though thankfully much smaller fire. I got the impression that the person in question had given the security guards a bit of lip but the response was slightly over the top.
The only trouble with festivals – except for the massive crowds trying to get everywhere at once, the over priced food, the idiots parping klaxons at 4am, the litter created by over a hundred thousand people, all the bands you don't want to see hogging the bill, occasionally poor sound quality on the main stage, mud, getting there, not showering, getting back and, of course, the terrible smell from the toilets – is the people running them.
Traditionally you're allowed to take in empty bottles as you can fill them up at taps inside. On the first day I was stopped trying to take an such a bottle in to the arena. The pea brain at the gates stops me and tells me that:
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"What?" I failed to see the point he was trying to make.
"You can't take in opened drinks."
"It's empty" (At this point I took the top off and turned the bottle upside down – just to display the moron what empty meant)
"Is it open?" (How else would it be empty?)
"Well technically, yes."
"You. Can't. Take. In. Opened. Drinks."
I really had no idea if he was saying this for information or whether he wanted me to bin the bottle. Okay, okay, you can't take in opened drinks, but I didn't have an open drink. I had an opened bottle, it ceased to become a drink when the last remaining drops of liquid were poured out.
"So you want me to bin it?"
There's very little you can do to argue in these kinds of situations so resignedly I chucked the "opened drink" into the bins. I wonder which asylum they get their staff from.
We left early in the morning, around half seven, in order to beat the traffic queues on the way out. It worked and we were soon blasting down the M1. The first thing I did upon getting home was to take a shower, if only you could accumulate cleanliness from consecutive showers. I'd take five or six before for good measure. After that there's only one thing you want to do. Sleep.