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February 5th 2011
I type this while watching one of the best Matches of the Day you will ever see. While it's not been much of an advert for defending - or, indeed, refereeing - I believe it's broken the Premier League record for goals, and there can rarely have been as many twists and turns on a single Saturday. Newcastle coming back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal was the pick of the bunch, but there was also Everton 5-3 Blackpool; Man City 3-0 West Brom; Wigan 4-3 Blackburn; Stoke 3-2 Sunderland... and other games with fewer goals (though all had at least three) still had plenty going on. In fact, the game that has stolen the headlines - in my house, at least - is Wolves 2-1 Manchester United. Yes, that's right. Man Utd, who hadn't lost a single Premier League game this season before today, got beaten by the mighty Wolves, and we deserved it too. A great day to be a Wolves fan (even if we are still bottom of the table!), and I was delighted to watch it all on the telly.
Maybe it's just me, but isn't it rather rude to tweet - or update Facebook - while you're with company? Rest assured, by the way, that I am writing this alone. I mean, I don't like Apple much and so am biased against iphones, but I don't like seeing people tap away on the things when you're trying to hold a conversation with them. What I find even stranger is what I've witnessed tonight: two people who I happen to know are currently in the same room, both twittering their thoughts about MotD. We live in curious times indeed.
Which reminds me. This stuff is called 'netiquette', a neologism that reflects the current trend of scrunching together words in a hideous manner to produce wordplay that is both unamusing and impossible to take seriously (cf 'staycation'). Anyway, I was surprised to come across 'netiquette' as the answer to a clue in the Times crossword the other week. If that weren't enough to make it official, it is also apparently in frequent usage on Radio 4. We live in curious times indeed [You did this bit - Ed.]

On this day in 2008... I get the fact that Harry Potter is a series of books for kids, and that the protagonist is just 11 or so when the first book begins, but the idea that a grown man would have such a vendetta against a little kid is just ridiculous.

February 9th 2011
Ross: I... I guess I just never think of money as an issue.
Rachel: That's 'cos you have it.

Money is not something I think about a great deal. This is partly because, like Ross, I have it (I don't have to worry about where the next weekly shop is coming from, for example), but I reckon there's more to it than that. Money has never captivated me; I am not in thrall to it, nor have I ever really aimed for it, though I've usually been fairly careful with it when I have it. I am always surprised when my fellow actuarial students (both in and out of Friends Provident) talk about exam passes in terms of the pay rises that come with them, as if the money were more important than the success, or perhaps even the reason for trying. The third time I failed CA3, my mentor (an AXA term, not a spiritual guide) tried to comfort me by pointing out that CA1 - which I did pass - carried with it a higher pay rise; that, to me, was pretty much irrelevant.
I'm not trying to demonstrate some kind of holiness, here. I'm well aware that my general lack of concern about money is heavily influenced - as I said at the start - by the fact that I have always had enough to be comfortable. It's also influenced by the fact that pretty much everything I want is inexpensive - CDs and DVDs, which probably make up the bulk of my 'luxury' purchases, are usually only a few pounds each. If I had ten times the amount of money I have now, I can't think of anything much I'd be particularly eager to buy. All of this means I don't really understand those people who are desperate to make a bumper salary, or win the lottery. That, for me, has nothing to do with happiness.
You see, I think you've forgotten what an unusual situation you two have. To find someone you actually love, who'll love you - I mean, the chances are always miniscule - William Thacker (Notting Hill)
So, what is happiness? Well, it's love, isn't it? I tend to believe that any and all problems will be solved - or at least pale into insignificance - if and when I find someone I love, who'll love me. Naive, of course. But what does money matter, if you're happily married? What does a tough day at work matter, or a failed exam? They are minor inconveniences by comparison.
I can't really leave it there, though, because I'm a Christian. Because I know that the greatest love is not between man and woman; it is between God and man. I may believe (erroneously or not) that marriage is the key to my happiness; I know - 'with my head', as the phrase goes - that a relationship with God is key to my identity, to my being. It transcends the rest. Too often, I forget that.

On this day in 2006... Next Tuesday, so I understand, is Valentine's Day (and possibly Shrove Tuesday, although I may be a week out). What, exactly, is the point of this day?

February 11th 2011
I think it only fit to kick off with some celebratory (you can't spell 'celebratory' without 'tory', y'know) news - I've passed CA3! People who have been paying attention over the last few years will have noticed that I have had some considerable trouble with this exam, and so I am over the moon having at last passed it. Happy times indeed. Without wishing to sound bitter about past experience, I think the difference this time was that the written question was done as a Word doc, rather than being handwritten, which meant that after every sentence I wrote, I could go back and dumb it down a little. And then, perhaps, dumb it down a bit more, just to make absolutely sure. Well, anyways, that's what I did, and it paid off - I am hugely pleased to say that CA3 is now just a memory.
In less successful news, I am part of a quiz team that competes at the Shakespeare pub on Monday nights, and we usually acquit ourselves well: we win a few, and generally come in the top 3. But alongside the quiz there is always a more creative activity, such as modelling something out of playdough, drawing a picture or creating something out of newspaper. And we have never, ever won this. Never even come close. Most weeks, we persuade ourselves that we have created a sure-fire winner, only to glance over to another table to see a team who have done essentially the same thing as us, but done it much, much better. Anyways, last week we were given newspaper and a superhero theme, and came up with what you see below. The judges didn't even seem to realise we'd entered.

Holy half-heartedness, Batman!

In other news, I feel an apology is seven years overdue for what is possibly the worst book review ever (see below). What can I say? I'm sorry.

On this day in 2004... Just finished Animal Farm... it's kind of depressing, although not too much. 1984 was worse, since it involved real people and was more scary.

February 18th 2011
For the first time ever, I am 'listening again' to Radio 4 of my own volition (usually I am guided there by either or both of my parents). Angus Deayton's latest attempt at a career comeback is 'It's Your Round', which goes out at 11pm on Thursdays, an amusing panel show in which the conceit is that the contestants prepare and bring the rounds themselves. It's not bad, as it goes, with Angus seeming a lot less depressed about his job than when he was on, say, Bognor or Bust (remember that? No, I barely do, either).
In other news, you may have noticed that this Sunday sees the first time Wolves have played West Brom in the top flight in my lifetime. And, to show what friendship is (there may have been another reason too, but I forget it), I'm going to spending most of the day with the latest Mr & Mrs Clohesy. Good times will almost certainly abound, especially if whatever activities we get up to (if past experience is anything to go by, we will either be going to a Christmas fayre, Seattle airport, or a wedding) are supplemented by a Wolves win.
In anti-monarchy news, most of you will probably know that I am a republican, but that's only because I've told you: until recently, I've had no means of letting the world know in a non-verbal manner. But all that has changed with the purchase of an umbrella bearing the slogan "Stop the Reign". I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again - does it get any better than this?

On this day in 2006... I am very much a fan of Simon Barnes' sports writing in the Times, since it is well-informed, sensible and poetic. Normally. Last week I made an exception, however, with a ludicrous article he wrote in support of figure skating, claiming that people say it isn't a sport merely because of the frilly dresses and (inanely) because women participate.

February 23rd 2011
We all have our favourite puns (run with me, here, guys) and this week I had a stellar chance to use mine. I took this chance gleefully. Allow me to explain: Robbie from work had recently bought a couple of sofas, and explained how he was having a great deal of difficulty manoeuvring them into his sitting room. After listening to his troubles, I was able to respond that it was a tale of two settees. It's a pun I try to shoe-horn into as many situations as possible, so to have it served up on a plate like that gave me a great deal of pleasure.
The sequel to this story is that Dave and I went with Robbie to his place this lunchtime, to try our hands at moving the sofas for him. Obviously the fact that he and Martin had failed was not going to stop us believing it was possible - even probable - that we would succeed. After plenty of tipping, rotating and pushing, we'd failed completely, and one of the sofas would have struggled to come under the 'good as new' category. What made our failure even more distressing - particularly to Dave - was that we didn't get the KFC bucket Robbie had promised to buy us had we been succcessful.
In other news, I had a very pleasant couple of days with Ant and Becca, which involved being beaten at chess, poker, Black Pig and Fluxx, and winning at Sequence, Heads and Feet and Taboo. It might be the first game of poker that I've taken (mostly) seriously, rather than going all-in at a very early stage, which meant that we were playing for several hours before Ant took all the chips. Fortunately we were playing for nothing more than (or less than, or equal to) pride, so I won't have to cut anybody a cheque or sell my organs for cash. Which reminds me, maybe I should start playing Boggle for cash... I spy a new career in the offing...

On this day in 2004... Today, children, I hope to cover the subjects of homosexuality, love and The Darkness. And, before I hear the rustling sound of lawsuits being filed, I'd like to make it clear that the three are not in connection with each other.

what was I listening to?
Across a Wire - Counting Crows
what was I reading?
Halfway to Hollywood - Michael Palin
what was I watching?
Wonderful Life
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