11 February 2011

Different Worlds

If a fourteen year old wants to join a rugby club in England he has to register with the RFU There is a form and, being fourteen, he will likely be given the form to fill in himself [when they are seven, their Dad does it]

After the routine of name, address, phone number, date-of-birth, what would you guess is the first thing the RFU want to know?

Did you guess: Have you played rugby before?

Nope, it's : Ethnic Origin (Please tick where appropriate)

These are the options, there are - I am not kidding - sixteen of them 1
  • White: British
  • White: Irish
  • White: Other
  • Chinese
  • Mixed: White & Black Caribbean
  • Mixed: White & Black African
  • Mixed: White & Asian
  • Mixed: Other
  • Asian and Asian British: Indian
  • Asian and Asian British: Pakistan
  • Asian and Asian British: Bangladesh
  • Asian and Asian British: Other
  • Black or Black British: Caribbean
  • Black or Black British: Africa
  • Black or Black British: Other
  • Other Ethnic Group

After evening training last week, one of our new joiners stared at the form, completely baffled.

"What should I put ?" he asked me
"Oh, don't worry about it", I said, "tick whichever you think fits you best"
He thought about it
"I think White-Other... I was born here"

Slightly surprised, I glanced over my shoulder at him, that wasn't the option I had expected to hear, but he was pretty muddy.....I checked the name he had written on his form: Ahmed Mahmood.

"Is that OK?"

Somewhere in the RFU there must be teams of earnest data analysts giving colourful powerpoint to blazered alickadoos, analysing micro trends in the ethnic groups by which they divide their world. Their world comprises sixteen precise and bizarre categories. The the world occupied by a fourteen year rugby players in West London is a different world.

1 - and no option for 'don't want to say'
2 - (obviously no, it wasn't that actual name no)

08 February 2011

Man Down

We have a house, we have a very old house in the country......and the drains are blocked.

Are there really alligators in the sewers of NYC?  [172/365]
This week, I have been mostly in our garden watching the excavation of a deep trench by two cheerful men from Dyno-Rod fortified only with Earl Grey tea laced with organic fruit sugar. ("tastes like washing up liquid")

Dyno-Rod. Dyno-Rod Dyno-Rod. Does the name conjure up for you a national squad of trained and uniformed drain-busters, gradually working their way up the Dyno-ranks?  Dear Reader, if you think that then you, are as mistaken as I was: it's a franchise.  You order Dyno-Rod, you get a couple of blokes from Bexhill who paid £40,000 for a bright red van. And why not?

First off, they prised up the ancient manhole cover on the terrace ("yeah, it is gull-poo, yeah, sorry about that"), and then with the clang of cast iron still ringing in our ears the three of us gathered to looked gravely down into the inspection pit. Professionals to the core all mention of the unpleasant contents within was politely eschewed, as two expert pairs of eyes, and one amateur, carefully sized up the direction of the foul drain.

It ran down the slope directly toward the only obstacle on my lawn: my carefully-level 12 foot trampoline... of course it did.

The trampoline had to be shifted. The three of us grabbed the sides and on Dyno-Rod's smooth count we heaved, manfully. The contraption rose from its moorings and we grinned triumphantly to each other, brute force triumphs over nature..

"OK, let's move it ... which way?"
"Up the slope!  let's go, 1..2...3... keep going.. keep going.. bit further..bit further.. MIND THE MANHOLE!"

05 February 2011

Gull Down

A marital dilemma..

An infrequent evening alone, sans children
Photo 232/365 - Vanquished
Pic - Aerokev
a consequent table-for-two at the poshest restaurant in town, our at-home pre-dinner bottle of Cotes du Rhone quite nicely half empty
Mrs Botogol and I were on the point of leaving, just minutes from our rendez-vous with gastronomy, when the phone rang

 "It's Gull Rescue, Mr Botogol, we can come out to you after all. We're on our way - with you in five"

"It was Gull Rescue, dear",  I explained, "they can come out after all. They are on their way now"
"But Alibert, our table is booked for... three minutes' time"
"I know.  Hmm.. there's only one solution", I said, "One of us must walk down to the George, claim our table, and then settle down to wait in the wing-backed leather chair in the lounge by the roaring fire, with an apple bellini .... while the other stays at home and helps chase an injured gull round the garden in the mud and rain"

I looked at Mrs Botogol, and Mrs Botogol looked at me.. a marital dilemma..
"I think", said she, pausing elaborately, "you'll want to take one for the blog"


"Well there you go", said the man from Hastings Gull Rescue, as we approached the angry, cornered bird, down by the compost heap, under the trampoline "that's one of your Scandinavian gulls".
I wondered how he could tell
"They are completely different!" he told me, astonished; it was something to do with the head. "Now then, don't worry, they can't hurt you, just get a bit closer... move veeerrrryyyy slowly..  don't worry..... FOR GOD'S SAKE KEEP AWAY FROM ITS BEAK"

We caught it quite quickly, and likely saved its life: the town foxes don't miss a gull with a broken wing on a February night. I thanked the brave catcher "I won't shake your hand, if you don't mind - never a good idea to loosen my grip" and Hastings Gull Rescue disappeared into the night, a £20 donation the richer.

I surveyed the gull-poo all over our paving stones..  a job for the morning I reckoned,  and hurried off down the High Street to rescue Mrs Botogol.  I found her quite content, well into her second bellini.