Routinely insane or insanely routine?

April 16th, 2019

I don’t know which was the first Masters tournament I watched the final round of. I think it was Bernhard Langer’s win in 1985, because I definitely remember watching Jack Nicklaus’s astonishing win the year after. Thereafter, with one or two minor exceptions, I’ve watched every one.

Within each one, there is a little routine, normally involving far too much red wine (record set during the Faldo/Norman encounter in 1996) and a very late night as the tournament is not over until the final putt, such is the trickiness of the course and the pressure that leading can bring to bear. I vividly remember Tiger Wood’s first win, in 1997, the only time it really was all over bar the shouting at the beginning of the final round. Often the drama is not so much in the thrilling strokeplay as in the mental disintegration – for every Phil Mickelson charge there is a Rory McIlroy or Greg Norman combustion.

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Don’t bet on it

April 9th, 2019

Last weekend saw possibly the biggest betting weekend in the UK calendar, with the Grand National, Boat race and two FA Cup semi-finals taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Ordinarily you would expect it to be a good weekend for the bookies, but with Tiger Roll winning the National, Cambridge the Boat race and Manchester City winning the first semi-final, it was probably a bad weekend for the bookies.

Not that we should shed too many tears for the bookmaking industry; after all, it’s much more rare for them to lose out than cash in. It’s always the stories of a fluke result (Leicester City anyone?) or a lucky accumulator (the punter who won £182,567 from a £2 bet at the Cheltenham festival recently) that grab the headlines rather than the results of the betting companies (bet365 posted turnover growth of 25% and 26% growth in profit for 2018, £2.86bn and £587.6m respectively).

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April Fools!

April 1st, 2019

To mark the fact that today should have been the first day that the UK spent outside the EU since 1973 (really, did nobody spot the irony?), we are pleased to announce a very special competition.

We will be giving away free flights on BA to anywhere in the world (well probably just Edinburgh given their recent track record) to the first ten callers who can give us a concise explanation of exactly what Theresa May is trying to achieve by constantly putting the same Brexit deal in front of Parliament.

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Fantasy (rugby) football

March 18th, 2019

Yesterday witnessed one of the most astonishing games of rugby in the history of the sport, not just the history of the Six (or Five) Nations championship. England scored five tries and a penalty in roughly 40 minutes, Scotland six tries in pretty much the same time.

Rugby is a mathematician’s dream, with the scoring system based around prime numbers (2, 3 and 5 points). It is therefore a game like any other (American football’s system has much more differential between the points) when one team can score more often than the other, and yet still not win. The irony yesterday is that England scored all their kicks, accumulating thirteen ponts in the process, but Scotland missed two of theirs and therefore only accumulated eight points from them.

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Fake news alert

March 12th, 2019

One of my oldest friends called me the other day. So far, so not unusual, but there was a tone in his voice that I couldn’t quite place. After a round of meaningless pleasantries, he suddenly said “So I guess we’re not going skiing this year then?”

He and I haven’t been skiing for 16 years, and haven’t even discussed the possibility for at least ten. Confused, I asked him what he meant. “I saw on Facebook that you were in Austria”.

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Re-balancing act

March 4th, 2019

There is always a danger in sticking your head above the social media parapet, but I am genuinely interested in people’s thoughts on something that has become increasingly obvious to me.

When I first started in recruitment, when Methuselah was a lad, the ecomony was enjoying a period of high employment, and this seemed to place recruitment agencies in charge, allowing them to levy inflated fees because they could get multiple offers for the best candidates and encourage those individuals to take the role that would pay the highest fee.

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Who exactly is in charge?

February 25th, 2019

This week saw yet another entry into the Fashion world’s “What were they thinking?” competition. We’ve had Gucci’s Blackface balaclava jumper (who knew we needed one of them?) which followed hot on the heels of Prada’s blackface items, Katy Perry’s shoes and Holocaust T-shirts. Now we get Burberry hoodies complete with hangman’s noose.

There has been plenty of moral outrage on both social media and traditional print, highlighting a lack of diversity within the industry that allows these products to come through. No-one seems to have questioned the process behind it though, preferring instead to bang on about the higher moral ground.

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Staying grounded

February 11th, 2019

On the opening weekend of the Six Nations, Wayne Barnes refereed the France v Wales game in Paris. The next day he refereed the Premiership Rugby Cup game between Harlequins and Saracens.

On the Saturday, Luke Pearce refereed the Scotland v Italy game in Edinburgh and the day after the game between Bristol and Exeter in the same competition.

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The transfer market

February 6th, 2019

The January transfer window has closed with hardly any headline news and the lowest amount of business for a number of years. The vast majority of business that did take place was between lower divisions or the clubs struggling in the Premier League.

What is typical, particularly with the January window, is the (at best) second rate players that move to apparently bigger clubs, moves that often leave the supporters of that club scratching their heads at why the club has bought that player and what on earth that player is going to bring to the club. Not making light of the situation, but I doubt many Cardiff City fans had heard of Emiliano Sala before his plane crashed into the sea.

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Accountability in the age of the digital press

January 28th, 2019

Carillion, Patisserie Valerie, Bargain Booze, what do they all have in common?

Alongside the fact that they have all gone bust obviously.

I have been doing some housekeeping work on the database recently, and what is striking about reading through old press articles on all of the above is two things – one, the amount of back-patting self congratulatory articles and two, the speed of the decline.

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