Sunday, August 08, 2021

Nine Million Rainy Days In A Lonely Place

Welcome you are, dearest bloggerisationisms reader, to the latest From The North bloggerisationisms update. Which comes to you, as usual, from the virry heart of The North itself, the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House (near Waalsend). Where it is currently raining.
Let us, therefore, kick-off our latest bloggerisationisms missive with a - somewhat - significant moment in the history of this virry blog. One which, as it happens, came and went so fast this blogger missed it and didn't spot it until a few moments after it occurred.
So, The Olympics, dear blog reader. It's been going on for the last fortnight - you might, just have noticed. As mentioned in the previous From The North bloggerisationisms update this blogger has been really enjoying it. Anyway, now it is over and the final result was that Great Britain's team matched their medal total from London 2012 on the final day of the Tokyo games. Track cyclist Jason Kenny's historic gold medal moved Great Britain up to sixty four medals on Sunday, hours before boxer Lauren Price won another gold in the Middleweight final. That put Britain on a total of sixty five medals - equalling their performance as hosts nine years ago and making Tokyo their second-most successful overseas Olympics after Rio 2016. It all, they claimed twenty two golds, twenty one silvers and twenty two bronze medals in Japan.
Britain won sixty seven medals at the Rio Games - finishing second in the overall medal table - and UK Sport had set a medal target range of between forty five and seventy medals for these much-delayed Olympics. Simon Gleave, the head of sports analysis at Nielsen Gracenote (whoever they are), said: 'At Rio 2016, Great Britain became the first country to improve on its medal tally in the Olympics after being the host - and Team GB have now become the first to equal or win more medals at each of the next two games.' Although, as noted on this blog five years ago, after the same Simon Gleave made a complete and utter fool of himself and Nielsen Gravenote when declaring, boldly and to every national newspaper thatwould quote him that the British team was 'underperforming' during the early days of the Rio games, Simon's actual title at the company should, perhaps, be 'head of guessing ... and taking shite'.
The British team's overall performance in Tokyo has exceeded pre-games predictions of fifty two medals and fourteen golds - despite some high-profile setbacks including a shock first-round taekwondo defeat for Jade Jones, injury issues for Dina Asher-Smith, Adam Gemili and Katarina Johnson-Thompson and the withdrawal of potential gold medal shooter Amber Hill with Covid before the games started. Plus the abject failure of the entire British rowing squad to justify the massive amounts of lottery-based funding spent on them. For which they should all be thoroughly ashamed and someone, somewhere in a position of authority should probably be getting the tin-tack right about now. Britain's medal aspirations were revised down by the governing body to take account of the 'extraordinary circumstances' presented to athletes and staff in the build-up to these particular games. UK Sport claimed that success would also be measured in 'a broader and more holistic way' than just medals. But, you can guarantee that they'll now be bigging-up matching their London total and getting within two of the numbers in Rio. And, you can't really blame them for that, to be fair. The British team's chef de mission, Mark England, hailed the medal haul in Tokyo as 'the greatest achievement in British Olympic history.' Which it isnt, quite, but it's not far off. He said: 'Not only has the team made history but it has probably made history on the back of the most complex and most challenging and difficult environment that we will face certainly in my lifetime. It has been against all the odds. It has been the miracle of Tokyo.' England believes the team is 'in great shape' before the 2024 Games in Paris. 'The Bryony Pages of this team, winning another bronze after her silver medal in Rio and the women's artistic gymnastics team winning a bronze with two sixten-year-old twins - these kept the scoreboard ticking over and gave everybody the confidence that the team is in great shape,' he said. 'We've had sixteen fourth places. This is a very, very young team and a very talented team and a team I'm absolutely confident that will go to Paris in less than three years and do exceptionally well.' Six-time Olympic cycling gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy - Chris on a Bike - told BBC Sport that the British team 'should be incredibly proud' of their achievements in Tokyo. He added: 'Expectations were mixed going into it. Certain sports didn't perform as expected, others overachieved. You get payment in kind for a gold. We have a limited pot of money and you have to use that as best you can. It's about intelligent use of money, thinking outside the box and being inventive. They have done us all proud - a great performance.' Britain won medals in twenty five sports in Tokyo - more than any other country.
A German coach was extremely thrown out of the Olympics for appearing to punch a horse who was refusing to jump or trot during the modern pentathlon competition. Kim Raisner, herself a former Olympian, was heard on German TV urging the tearful pentathlete, Annika Schleu, to 'really hit' the horse with her whip whenSchleu struggled to control the horse, Saint Boy, during the showjumping round of Friday's women's event. Schleu had been leading the competition before the equestrian stage, where athletes are given just twenty minutes to bond with a horse they have never ridden previously. Most of them manage the best they can. Schleu never even came close. Modern pentathlon's governing body, the UIPM, said that it had reviewed video footage which appeared to show Raisner - who competed at the 2004 Olympics in the modern pentathlon - striking the horse with her fist. Really hard. 'Her actions were deemed to be in violation of the UIPM competition rules, which are applied to all recognised modern pentathlon competitions including the Olympic Games,' the governing body said in a statement. 'The UIPM Executive Board has given a black card to the Germany team coach Kim Raisner, disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. The EB decision was made today at the Tokyo Stadium before the resumption of the men's modern pentathlon competition.' The horse cleared just four fences before crashing into the fifth and then repeatedly refused to jump, eliminating Schleu with zero points as it had done earlier to another competitor, Gulnaz Gubaydullina. The German Modern Pentathlon Union claimed that Saint Boy had been 'traumatised by the previous rider' even before Schleu's round, during which he bucked and refused to trot around the course level Schleu in floods of snivelling tears and, apparently, feeling very sorry for herself. Which was, frankly, the single funniest moment of the entire Olympic fortnight. If you missed it, dear blog reader, trust this blogger it was a sight to see. The horse's refusal to cooperate cost Schlau dearly. After scoring zero points she fell from first position in the competition to thirty first out of thirty six competitors. Britain's Kim French subsequently claimed a dramatic gold with a superb and thrilling performance in the final run-and-shoot. As to what became of Saint Boy - surely the most misnamed horse in equine history - he was nowhere to be seen during Saturday's men's competition. Rumours that his next gig was in a can of Pedigree Chum®™™ cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.
Miserable auld scrote Sir Van Morrison has reportedly dropped a legal challenge against the 'blanket ban' on live music in licensed venues in Northern Ireland. Which, presumably, cost him loads in legal fees. It follows the Stormont Executive's decision to allow live music to resume as it eased Covid-19 restrictions. The singer and well-known misanthrope 'welcomed' that decision but said he was 'disappointed' he had to cancel concerts in the Ulster Hall in Belfast from 29 July. Mozza has been vocal in his criticism of Covid restrictions. At the end of 2020 he released three lockdown protest songs. In September, the musician - who was last vaguely interesting sometime in the early 1990s - performed at the London Palladium at a time when restrictions were in place in Northern Ireland. He whinged: 'For some reason, completely unknown to me, [the ban] remained in force in Northern Ireland with catastrophic consequences for many artists, venues and the economy as a whole. As we look to the future, we need to understand the plan and strategy to support the arts and live music sector going forward as ultimately this helps support society as a whole. It's concerning that such considerations appear to have been forgotten.' His solicitor, Joe Rice, claimed his client had 'sought to engage constructively with government' on the issue. One or two people even believed him. No, hang on ... run that one by this blogger again. Van Morrison? 'Engage constructively'? In the same sentence ...? 'Surely some mistake? 'I know that Mister Morrison was disappointed by the failure on the part of the NI Executive to engage with him and that he was ultimately compelled to bring legal proceedings in order to achieve the lifting of the ban on live music for the benefit of fellow musicians, performers the live music sector as a whole,' continued Rice. 'He also believes that had the NI Executive engaged meaningfully with both Mister Morrison and the industry from the outset, more pre-planned events, such as his Europa Hotel and Ulster Hall concerts, could have proceeded as planned.' When legal proceedings were launched in January, a spokesman for the Department of Health said in response: 'It is an accepted scientific fact that Covid-19 can spread when people are brought together in enclosed indoor locations. Stopping the spread of the virus is a priority for governments across the world - to save lives and stop health services being overwhelmed.' When Mozza - seen below during his long and memorable 'Mister Happy-Fun-Guy' period - released his anti-lockdown songs in September, Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann wrote a scathing opinion piece for Rolling Stain magazine in response. Swann said the songs were 'dangerous', challenging Mozza to 'present his own scientific facts.' The ban on live music was lifted in Northern Ireland as of 5 July. However there were limits placed on sound levels for indoor venues. Mozza said he was 'made aware' of the decision to reopen venues without sound limits from 27 July when it was 'too late' and the Ulster Hall concerts had been cancelled.
And now, dear blog reader, the semi-regular From The North Headline of The Week award. Which goes to the BBC News website for the utterly awesome Drug Dealers Jailed After Getting Car Stuck In Trolley Bay.
A recent episode of ITV's wretched horrorshow Love Island prompted four thousand three hundred and thirty whinges to the regulator Ofcom (a politically appointed quango, elected by no one), a record for the current series. Most of those viewers said a postcard sent to female contestants during Casa Amor week, which appeared to show partners cheating, was misleading and 'caused unnecessary distress.' The week places male and female contestants in separate villas with the chance to be unfaithful. Ofcom said it was assessing whether to launch an investigation. The whinges were about the episode on 28 July. A staple of the ITV2 show, the card twist promises 'high drama' as islanders 'receive evidence of supposed transgressions' involving new recruits from the other villa. But the images frequently lack context and, received days before their original island partners return, can prompt contestants to 'act rashly under false pretences' by cheating in response. The 28 July episode attracted four times the previous highest number of complaints about a single episode this series, which started in late June. The following day, there were one hundred and three further complaints, including fifty six about the 'ongoing fallout' from the Casa Amor fiasco. This included Faye Winter (no, me neither) being 'duped' into believing her partner, Teddy Soares (likewise), had been persistently unfaithful, leading her to hook up with new Casa Amor entrant Sam Jackson in retaliation. As you do. There were six hundred and ninety nine further complaints about the 30 July episode, of which six hundred and eighty two cited the 'manipulation' of the couple, who have since got back together. Presumably, the other seventeen were from people who felt that their intelligence had been insulted by having this horseshit beamed into their living rooms. There were one hundred and seventeen complaints about the 1 August episode, of which ninety five related to the treatment of Millie Court after her split from Liam Reardon. The postcard also led Kaz Kamwi to separate from Tyler Cruickshank. Apparently. The impact of fame on the mental health of Love Island contestants and the aftercare offered to them has come under increased scrutiny in recent years. ITV introduced 'revised duty of care protocols' this year, including training islanders on how to handle the 'potential negativity' of social media. And, of the withering scorn of 'normal' people.
The Rolling Stones drummer, the Godlike genius that is Charlie Watts, is expected to miss the band's forthcoming US tour dates as he recovers from an unspecified medical procedure. 'For once my timing has been a little off,' the eighty-year-old said in a statement, revealing he had been told it would 'take a while' for him to 'get fully fit.' Sir Mick Jagger said the band looked forward to welcoming Watts back 'as soon as he is fully recovered.' Steve Jordan will fill in when The Stones resume their No Filter Tour in September. The musician has worked with Stones guitarist Saint Keith Richards on his side project X-Pensive Winos and is also a member of The John Mayer Trio. Watts' spokesman said that while his procedure had been 'completely successful', the drummer had been told by doctors he needs 'proper rest and recuperation.' He said it was 'very disappointing' that Watts was unlikely to be able to go back on the road at present, adding that 'no-one saw this coming.' Watts said: 'I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while. After all the fans' suffering caused by Covid I really do not want the many [Rolling Stones] fans who have been holding tickets for this tour to be disappointed by another postponement or cancellation.' The Stones' first concert will be in St Louis on 26 September. They will be the legendary band's first performances since the virtual rendition of 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' during the One World: Together At Home concert in April 2020. Jordan said it was an 'absolute honour and privilege' to be Watts' understudy. 'No-one will be happier than me to give up my seat on the drum-riser as soon as Charlie tells me he is good to go,' the sixty four-year-old added. Watts was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004. He has been a member of the Stones since January 1963, when he joined Jagger, Richards and Brian Jones in their fledgling group.
UK adults spent nearly a third of their waking hours watching TV and online video content in 2020, according to a report from regulator Ofcom. A politically appointed quango, elected by no-one. Screen time, spurred on by pandemic lockdowns, was a daily average of five hours and forty minutes, up forty seven minutes on the previous year. Which, if true, means this blogger is doing at least two people's jobs, daily. Possibly three. For the first time, more households had a Netflix subscription than a paid TV account such as cable or satellite. And nearly eighty per cent of households now have their TVs connected to the Internet. The Media Nations Report, which Ofcom compiles annually, found that Covid-19 restrictions were the main drivers for the increase in screen time, especially for on-demand content. It helped the UK's public service broadcasters secure some of their highest TV viewing figures for five years. But the highest growth was seen in video-on-demand, with time spent on services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video almost doubling in 2020 to an estimated one hour and five minutes per person per day. Such services were used by sixty per cent of all UK households by the third quarter of 2020, up from forty nine per cent a year earlier. YouTube remained the most popular user-generated online video service, with people spending an estimated forty one minutes per day watching videos on its channels. But Chinese-owned video app TikTok is also gaining in popularity and was being used by thirty one per cent of adult Internet users by March 2021. Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom's group director of research, said: 'TV and online video have proved an important antidote to lockdown life, with people spending a third of their waking hours last year glued to screens for news and entertainment. The pandemic undoubtedly turbo-charged viewing to streaming services, with three-in-five UK homes now signed up.' Some twenty nine of the thirty most watched titles on subscription services were on Netflix, including Bridgerton, The Dig, Behind Her Eyes and Fate: The Winx Saga. And, during the UK's winter lockdowns, people sought to cheer themselves up by spending almost an hour a day watching comedy programmes. The average time spent watching traditional broadcast TV each day was just over three hours, but this was mostly driven by people aged forty five and over. Younger age groups spent far less time on linear TV, with those aged sixteen to twenty four only spending just over an hour watching broadcast content, slightly down from the figures in 2019.