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Heineken Cup

What the hell happened yesterday?  An amazing comeback from a tem that have made a habit of it.  I watched the highlights again this morning and the chage at half time is remarkable.  It looks as if Northamptom blew themselves out in the first half, but even tht does not explain the complete turnarund.

Part of it, at least, comes down to learning to play to the referee.  I've noticed over the last few months that different leagues seem to have real differences in refareeing standards.  Not in terms of quality, but in how certain areas of the game are dealt with.  During the anglo-welsh cup there were many compliants about Ashton from the welsh sides.  He stands up in every scrum, its an area where in the Magners he would be penalised every time, but in the Aviva everyone does it.  Its a different intrepretion of the rules.  There are real diffeences in the way in which the breakdown are refareed as well.  Rucks and mauls tend to be shorter in the Magners as the refs are more liberal in some ways and less so in others.  Strangely enough you can do more on your side of the ruck and less on the other side.  Some teams in the Aviva - hello Leicester - are almost playing amrican football at times, so much 'clearing out' takes place.

Its become part of the game, finding out the particular foibles of refs and playing to them.  I don't think think is the full story as to what happened yesterday, Leinster are masters of pacing a game they almost never run out of steam (an old weakness of Irish sides that Munster and Ulster have also dealt with) and they did play some inspired rugby in the second half.  But I would be almost certain that somebody on the sidelines noted the Ashton thing and instructed the Leinster front row that it wasn't going to be penalised and how to deal with it.  The counter is simple, but would be penalised in the Magners so isn't usually done.  But a ref that allows the standing up is going to allow the counter as well.

Both clubs had to deal with this, the ref was consistant and he came from another league, the french, which I watch much less often but is obviously slightly diffeent again.  In the end Leinster were smarter, paced their effort better and had 20 minutes of totally inspired rugby.
 to prove themselves the best team in europe.

Recommended Reading

A reprint of a british comic strip from Look and Learn weekly in 1971-72, this is the first of three volumes.  The tale of WW1 fighter pilots in the western front, it was, along with the excellent Trigan Empire, the highight of the comic when I read it as an 11 year old.  It was the first time I'd seen a comic where characters died, sometimes  It arrived in the post today and I've almost finished it already. 

Available from Steve Holland's Bear Alley Books its well worth a look.  Cover image borrowed from the site, hope Steve does not mind.....

Still Here....

Just in case there is anyone in Livejournal land who remembers me, HI folks.  Still here.  I really must get back to checking out Livejournal.

Back at work now for six months and almost back to a normal life.

Martyn44, happy birthday

And people don't understand te appeal of Rugby?


How about a psychotic looking Kirby Kharacter to look at on the morning of your birthday

More Holiday Fun

Seeing as how I'm off work at the moment I've had time to see a lot of movies.  My friend Seedy bOb and I have a tradition of not seeing good movies, so it came as a huge surprise how much we enjoyed the A-Team.  Mindless, plot holes to drive trucks through, character development replaced by big guns, car chases and explosions.  Just the sort of movie I hate.

Loved it.  Smiled from the moment it started.  They can make as many shit movies like this as they want and I'll go see them. 

Or maybe it was just the beta blockers.....

What I did on my Holidays Part two

....so there I was in the observation ward of the cardiac ward.  Oddly enough I felt well, better than I had for a few months.  Apart, that is, from the two needles left in my arms to allow for drugs to be injected.  The sensors stuck to me body to monitor my heart and the wee clip on my finger which measured the oxygen levels in my blood.  I had a blood pressure cuff on my left arm which, without human interference, would inflate and tighten every half hour - quite a feeling at 3am when you have just dropped off to sleep.

Beside me was a monitor which showed my heart rate, the oxygen saturation of my blood and my most recent blood pressure reading.  After about an hour, I moved a little, my heart rate went up and a nurse appeared as if from nowhere to see if I was all right.  When an hour later the same thing happened, she wandered over slowly and later called from her desk, "You OK, Mr Duncan we're not so worrried about you now".

I was kept in a small ward with three other beds.  One was occupied by an old man waiting for a pacemaker to be fitted, another by a bloke who had the lowest blood pressure known to man and kept falling overwithout warning  and the third by a forty year old woman who cried from the moment she arrived until the moment she left.  The bloke with the low blood pressure was moved after a few hours and replace by a guy from one of the local estates.

He was almost entirely round, the first spherical person I have ever seen, and spoke with an accent so thick that nobody could understand a single word he said.  It was comical, nurses would ask him his name and repeat back what they thought they had heard only to see him shake his head in frustration.  He would then turn to one of us and say something that sounded like mmmmm, neme, nenene, and we would nod as if had we understood every word.  The poor  Malaysian nurse had no chance. 

Eventually the staff gave up and decided to wait until his family came in.  When the family arrived they were instantly recognisable.  They were all spherical, obviously mother, sister and brother.  The nurse took the mother aside and I could hear her apologise that they hadn't been able to understand what the son was saying, but they needed his full name and address.  She replied quickly, "mmm, nenum, nenenene".   A short time later a tall thin man in cowboy boots and hat with long grey hair appeared,  He was another relative, we guessed brother-in-law, and as it turned out had quite a refined english accent so they finally got their answers. 

The staff were calm and pleasant throughout, and I'm afraid I saw them put up with a lot of abuse from patients or relatives who were "the worse for drink". 

We may complain about the NHS, we may even complain about it a lot, but when I needed it , it was there and was excellent. 

What I did on my holidays...Part One

I wasn't sure what I was going to say about my illness, but what the hell it isn't a secret and I'm feeling good at the moment, with a decent chance to make a full recovery.   On the 27th April, less than a week after my fiftieth birthday I went to the gym at 6:30am.  I hadn't been feeling great and wanted to clear my head.  I had a good work-out lasting 40 minutes and got ready to go to work.  A couple of minutes after I left the gym carpark, I felt as if someone had suddenly hit me in the chest with a sledgehammer.   I started to double over in the car, but since the local hospital was in sight I steeled my and managed to keep going.  

I made it through two sets of lights, at one stage thinkming I was going to pass out, and abandoned my car in the wee bay outside A&E.  The one marked "No Parking" is huge white letters.  I managed to struggle out the words "chest pains" to the receptionist and was taken through to the treatment area by a couple of nurses.  One, a friendly blonde woman in her forties took charge instantly and had me wired up to an ECG in seconds.  She guided the other guy, a younger man, through reading the printout, skillfully and very quickly as they picked up a couple of early signs of a heart attack. 

Next I was presented to a young doctor, who flapped completely.  She looked confused and scared and appeared to have very little idea what to do next.  Within seconds she was gently eased out of the way by the senior nurse's elbows and a replacement summonded from another bay.  The nurse then went on to tell the new doctor exactly what he had to do next through the medium of very leading questions or requests for confirmation.  "Should we...?" or  "did you want the ...... done now".   Everything moved reallty quickly and efficiently under the control of this one nurse.

I was lucky, within ten minutes of the pain starting I had been given two doses of morphine and was on my third ECG.  My wife was called and fifteen minutes later was standing beside me.  ECG's were been taken at regular intervals, confirming the type of Heart Attack I was having, the signs were not distinct enough.  After about twenty minutes I was asked about bleeding, they wanted to give me a drug which dissolved the blood clot which was blocking one of my arteries, but which carried with it the risk of stroke or internal bleeding.  

I said yes and saw the bigest syrynge I have ever seen moving towards the tap they had fitted to my right arm.  I had one injection of the drug and felt the pain subside, the reaction was instant, before the injection was over the oain had all but gone and I felt better. 

I was then wheeled up to the cardiac ward where I had three more gallons of liquid (thats what it felt like) pumped into me.  Two of water and one more of the 'clotbuster drug'. 

Treatment had been very quick, so the amount of damage to the heart had been minimised.  My cholestoral reading was 3.95 the day I arrived in hospital and I'd lost about two stone in the year previous.  But my family have a history of heart disease, with my father's brothers suffering heart attacks at arround my age.  In those days the clot buster drugs were not available and the treatment I receved a few days later was also not available.  Only my Dad and his eldest brother, both of whom had the treatment I've had, are still alive and going strong.

It was probably the morphine and the beta blockers they gave me in hospital, but I wasn't depressed or worried while I was in the ward, rather I was more calm and relaxed than i've been for years.   

I do remember hearing one term that I didn't quite understand.  By the time the consultant arrived in A&E everything had been done but I did hear him say to the doctor who faffed when I first arrived that I'd had a barndoor infarction.  I later discovered that this wasn't a particular type of attack, but rather his way of pointing out to this doctor that it was obvious  what was happening to me and that faffing was not aceptable.


In Case I forget

I still like comics, this reminded me why.

I really should have known...

When you get advice on music from someone called Seedy bOb, you shouldn't expect too much.  So for the past couple of days I've ben listening to some dreadful Metal Music.  In some cases albums I had owned as a 13/14 year old before a brief dalliance with prog rock was replaced by a kind of joint punk/motown/stax period.

Many of the bands recommended to me are from a later period and were new to me but others were familier, take Uriah Heep....

I find it hard to believe now, but I quite liked this band in 1972.  A sort of missing link between the prog rock bands and out and out metal they were total shit.  A t the time I liked a few tracks, The Wizard from their Demon's and Wizards album is a sort of poor man's "Stairway to Heaven"  but without any real high points, but at the time I loved it.

Lyrical highpoints are few and far between, but the opening stanza of Stealin' from Sweet Freedom is memorable.

"Take me across the water
Cause I need some place to hide
I done the rancher's daughter
And I shur did hurt his pride"

And thats about as good as it gets for the Heep.  To be fair, they did have a better than average bass player for a heavy metal band in Gary Thaine but that was more than made up for by the inane guitar solos by Mick Box and the less than inventive keyboards of Ken Hensley. 

The only album by Anthrax I could bear to listen to in totallity was a collection of covers.  Some of the songs I knew, most I did not.  Their version of Cowboy Song, the old Thin Lizzy track was just about passable and they did a decent job on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath but the only track I think I'll actully listen to again was a cover of the Temptations Ball of Confusion.  A great song to start with an it survived the fuzz pedal guitar and the rock vocals surprisingly well.  As for the bands own material, I just didn't get it, is this a how fast can you play contest?  Not for me.

I loved the next album, it made me laugh out loud.  Part of a genre I am assured by my nephew is called Pirate Metal.  I know nothing about Alestorm, but their album is out and out funny.    This cover is from an EP, but Captain Morgan's Revenge has tracks like "Over the Seas", "Death before the Mast" and "Wenches and Mead" and a stonking version of Flower of Scotland.   I hope they are not being serious, because this is badddd, but great fun.

I watched the BBC Storytime on Anvil, so had to listen to at least one of their albums.  I'm told they were the first band of their type and that Anthrax, Metallica etc copied their style and managed to meet with sucess.  I listened to Metal to Metal which is supposed to b their best album.  The drums andbass sounded just like all the other bands to me, but the vocals and lyrics sounded cliched to me, a cartoon parody of Heavy Metal - althought how you can be cliche when you 'invent' a genre I'm not sure..  The guitar solos were naff and just sounded bad.

Metallica were next, in the shape of the Black Album.  I couldn't say I liked them, but there was a difference between them and the othr bands.  There were a couple of songs that sounded like songs and a couple I even quite enjoyed.  Enter Sandman was a decent rock track and I realy enjoyed Nothing Else Matters, thats a decent song that is.  I was forced to watch part of  DVD of the band and found myself impressed by Jason Newstead, the Bassest at the time.   I was going to say that much of the bands music washed over me, but rather it hits me in the face like a rather unpleasant wet fish attack.  I can a difference in class between this lot and the other bands of their type, but with the exception of one or two songs don't want to spend much time listening to them.

Slayer and Megadeth were next.  I tried, honestly I tried to listen to them.  But it was more than I could bear to listen to a whole album.  Of the two they were both the worst, not for me, not for me.  I had to clean my pallet with a quick blast of the first Led Zeppelin album and a Grateful Dead show from 1982.  Now i'm ready to grab a box of my old singles and have a quick rummage.