Shutes Shorts - Bumper edition!!

Group Therapy

A survey has just been published that is mainly quite dull. However, in order to promote it they have come up with the idea of reading some improbable results from the data. The research looked at peoples’ preferences from pop music to politicians to rock stars and linked it all to what they eat – okay so far, you might think. But then they decided to relate what people said, to come up with things that are total non sequiturs. Stuff like - if you like Marmite you are likely to be killed in a freak hamster accident and vote Tory (before the hamster incident, obviously). You’ll find a report on the findings here - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11236289/Quiz-Can-your-stomach-predict-how-you-will-vote.html it’s even got a quiz you can take to help you decide who to vote for based on your choice of crisps. Presumably if you like Monster Munch it’s the Raving Loonies (for the benefit of my readers in Ukraine and Nepal, this is actually a real party). Those who are ‘don’t knows’ prefer Quavers.

It is, of course, total bollocks – so before you worry that you’re going to go bald if you like pork scratchings and play in a Jackson 5 tribute band, let me explain. It’s called grouping and is complete rubbish. I should know, ad agencies in the 90s did it all the time – and KWS was no exception and we were rather good at it too. It was done long before we started – I was a client for much of the 70s and 80s and it was done to me – regularly. For all I know agencies are still doing it, although I suspect they are a lot more sophisticated about it now.

This is how it works in adland – you get a brief from a client who expects you to come up with something amazing that will help him shift a shedload of his quite ordinary product. This brief is usually about only two lines long and more often than not includes the phrase “Right you bastards, I expect this to sell squillions and make us brand leader”. Again, I know – I used to write similar drivel when I was a client.

This, of course, is of fuck all help to the agency. However, being only interested in getting the job (and getting paid) they greet the tripe as if it was the Gettysburg Address. The account guy is likely to say stuff like “this is the most insightful and interesting brief we’ve ever had” – whilst praying that the creative team in the corner don’t start guffawing out loud.

The client then fucks off to lunch with the account bloke and the rest of the agency go into panic mode.

The creatives are locked back in their boxes and told to come up with something very clever whilst the blokes they call planners are supposed to come up with something that will help more than simply saying shift more jars. The planner is supposed to give the creative johnnies a bit more of a steer in terms of the competition, the market and consumers. This would definitely help if the creative actually took any fucking notice – which they rarely do. Everyone in the agency wants work that makes them rich or famous – and preferably both. This means an ad has to stand out from all the other rubbish in the breaks so anything which is edgy, euphemistic or border line offensive is exactly what the agency wants to make – if it sells more product that’s just a bonus. And this is where grouping comes in – in order to get the client to buy the ad you have to have a story that makes the script look like it might actually work. The key is to convince them (it’s always a team of clients- they are too scared to go out on their own or take a decision without approval) that this will be a winner.

Let’s say it is an aftershave in a boring box. The planners will have a quick shufti at the market stuff and then group consumers together – usually four groups is more than enough for this to work.

You make group 1 the blokes who buy the big brands ‘The Bores’– you say they are older, have moustaches (unless you’re pitching in Movember), drive Ford Fiestas and only beat their wives on Sundays. You make Group 2 very small and say they are bankers, free masons and premiership footballers who have so much dosh that they buy the stupidly expensive designer brands supposedly knocked out exclusively by Justin Bieber and David Beckham in their basement– these are ‘The Twats’ and are not the group to target (much too few in numbers). Group 3 are the ‘Don’t give a stuffs’ – as long as it doesn’t smell like drain cleaner they’ll buy anything that’s cheap – own label mostly – they like football, beer and knock their wives about whenever they feel like it. This brings us to the group we are after – ‘The Discontents’. We make these the biggest group numerically – they are not brand loyal but are looking for a brand that fits their personality (fuck knows what that means). They go clubbing, wear designer clothes bought at the sales, drink trendy beer and have important jobs (like marketing executives who sell after shave). They are aged 20 – 59 but we describe them as ‘young at heart’. We say they are searching desperately for an after shave that is modern, sexy and exciting (it helps if you can hint that this will also get them laid more frequently).

This exercise should take about half a day and is then given in diagram form to the creative teams (they are not good with anything more than a paragraph of words). You then pray that what they come up with looks a bit like they based it on what you’ve drawn. Not that it matters too much.

The whole point of this grouping is to sell the ad – no matter what it is – to the client.

The pitch itself is important – first you worry the fuck out of them. You say that their product is anonymous in the marketplace and doesn’t appeal strongly to any consumers. It’s good to have a bit of popular film to underline this – we often used a video clip from Blackadder –

 

Melchett: Field Marshal Haig has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.
Blackadder: Ah. Would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy?
Captain Darling: How could you possibly know that, Blackadder? It's classified information!
Blackadder: It's the same plan that we used last time and the seventeen times before that.
Melchett: Exactly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard! Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time! There is, however, one small problem.
Blackadder: That everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds.
Melchett: That's right. And Field Marshal Haig is worried this may be depressing the men a tad. So he's looking for a way to cheer them up.
Blackadder: Well, his resignation and suicide seems the obvious choice.
Melchett: Hmm, interesting thought. Make a note of it, Darling.

 

When the clip finishes you say the moral is - “you can’t go on doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result” This is a brilliant put down for all the ads made by their previous agency (it doesn’t work so well if it was you, obviously).

Having scared them you quickly say you have the solution - ideally before they can fuck off to another agency.

You explain that you have done in-depth research and studied the market and the brand virtually non-stop since they gave you their wonderfully focussed brief – remember it is important to make sure that this doesn’t sound patronising or a piss take.

Then you reveal the groups and identify the ‘Discontents’ as the target who will propel the brand to fame and fortune (hopefully yours – and maybe theirs too, although this is less of a concern). Always show them a chart that demonstrates where the growth will come from – they love pictures.

The key is to get them nodding enthusiastically at this rational proposal – we always reckoned that if we’d depressed them enough with Blackadder and then excited them with  the market opportunity

we’d simply made up, then the ad itself didn’t matter too much. We called it ‘Toy Town’ as a tribute to Noddy.

You then show them the ad whilst the euphoria of finding a plausible market gap is still there – all the time with fingers crossed that they might believe it will appeal to the ‘Discontents’ (who you are now actually starting to believe really exist)

Nearly always, the creative will have disregarded anything the planners have said and virtually all scripts begin with the line “we open on a beach, the sea gently laps on the hot golden sand….’

This tends not to be too hard a sell as the client is instantly imagining himself at the film shoot in his budgie smugglers and with an exotic cocktail in his mitt.

Of course not all clients are gullible enough to fall for this stuff – certainly DFS (Lord Kirkham), Fisherman’s Friends (Mrs Lofthouse) and two others never did. I haven’t mentioned the other two just in case any former clients are mad enough to find themselves here – in which case they can all imagine that it’s them I’m talking about!

Grouping was, and maybe still is, a great tool for ad peeps – as for working out voting intentions – well you might as well make it all up.

If any of the political parties are interested I can be contacted here (reasonable rates apply).

 

If you came here expecting some rugby stuff I apologise for this nonsense – as a reward for sticking with me here’s a clip of James Haskell boshing Census Johnston – no mean feat! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2D4fKeAVr8 let’s hope he can start doing the same now he’s back in an England shirt – I mean Haskell,obviously.

e’s taking the piss

My inbox continues to be inundated with attractive offers. Not just instant fortunes, debt solutions (which I won’t need thanks to mates in Burkina Faso), willy extensions and helpful dementia booklet offers either. I am now getting daily updates from a site called Jobungo (which is, surprisingly, not in West Africa) with a list of great job opportunities in Turnip Town. Again, surprisingly, not all of these are for veg pulling or pig herding!

Also PG Tips keep sending me 50p vouchers off a ‘tasty alcohol free alternative to mulled wine’ – their words not mine, obviously). I mean what the fuck is the pint of a mulled wine type drink if it doesn’t get you pissed? It’s a bit like the bloke who said he’d invented a non-alcoholic cider – yeah, we know mate, it’s called bleeding apple juice.

Those of us who worked at the outfit who marketed PG (Airdy, Jock and the Kell to name three) will be right teed off. We worked hard to introduce cooking wine and heavy booze promotions which were inappropriate to the company policy, but were much more fun than looking for stuff for anyone who had signed the pledge (not the Lib Dem sort, obviously).

But it gets worse - some time ago I was bullied into signing up to a ‘business’ site called ‘Linked –In’. Now I get a constant stream of helpful suggestions indicating that I might want to ‘congratulate’ people I have never heard of on their super new job or promotion at work. This is usually accompanied with a photo of said person looking very smug – presumably because they’ve just seen their new salary packet. In addition, I am encouraged to endorse the same smug bastards for a list of skills that make them look more competent than a combination of Richard Branson, Alan Sugar, Mozart and Roy of the fucking Rovers.

I also notice that no one has congratulated me on not having this blog shut down by the expletive police or for my exemplary ability to ‘take the piss’

Communication Problems (or a guide to talking bollocks)

A couple of days ago Terry pointed out that whilst she understood much of what I write here (understood not approved, notice) she wasn’t sure that anyone who hadn’t played for Askeans would know what the fuck I was on about (although I don’t think they were her exact words).

In her role as the reluctant grammar and punctuation police she often tries to get me to remove expletives and anything offensive – in practice, I tend to resist this sort of interference, as you may have noticed.  I do concede however, that she may have a point regarding the potential for readers to not have a bleeding clue as to what I mean – capeesh? No, of course you fucking don’t! This misinterpretation is especially true now though, since this stuff has reached a total of 83 countries around the globe (I know – me either).

I have therefore decided to produce a sort of glossary for some of the expressions that I tend to use here and that may not be fully understood in places like Nepal and Burundi (or indeed Knightsbridge or Birmingham)

 

Village Idiots – having an IQ the same as Stephen Hawkin (his hat size, anyway). This applies to the majority of inhabitants in Turnip Town (including myself but not Terry, obviously)

Tractors – the mode of high performance transport that is coveted in Turnipshire. Many are pimped to feature stickers of designer wellies and particularly good looking porkers (some of whom are actually pigs)

Porkers – bacon in its formative years

Porkies – telling something that may not be quite 100% accurate i.e. “I didn’t have sex with that porker last night”

Pork – used as a verb this describes the act of having sex (not necessarily with a porker)

Porky – as an adjective it means to be carrying slightly more timber or beef than is healthy

Beef – ‘carrying excessive beef’ means you’re a fat bastard

Timber – see beef and porky – although carrying a bit of timber is a marginally less derogatory description of a fat bastard

Chubs – someone carrying a bit of pork (as in beef not a swine herd)

Reality TV – crap television, especially where it involves talentless twats who have the IQ of a dead porker (i.e. almost all of it)

Twats - anyone on reality television – including the presenters, judges, producers and media commentators.

Total fucking twats – reality TV idiots who are estate agents, chavs, posh twats, benefit cheats, people on sofas watching TV and apprentice twats. Also an encompassing term for all bankers and MPs

To fuck up – to make a horlicks of something. In this context horlicks means to drop a bollock not a hot soporific milk drink.

Fuck all – the level of intelligence required to be in a reality TV programme.

What the fuck? (also sometimes shorthanded as the mnemonic - wtf?) – to express some considerable surprise e.g. that anyone could make a TV show about grannies on the game

Fucking – see the definition of Pork (as a verb, obviously)

Fucking – as an adjective to underline a positive i.e. ‘a complete fucking twat’

For fuck’s sake – literally translates to ‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding me’

To give a fuck – actually a negative as in ‘don’t give a fuck’, which means you can’t be arsed.

Can’t be arsed – as in I can’t be arsed to explain this one

To kid – to not be entirely serious – not to be confused with sheep worrying across the Severn bridge

Turnip – a luxury food item indigenous to Turnipshire. An incredibly versatile vegetable with literally two possible recipes (three if you count throwing them at village idiots)

Swede – a vegetable that is only one recipe short of being as gifted a the turnip

Swede – a slang term for the noggin – “ he got a good shoeing on his swede”

Shoeing – the act of using another player (usually, but not always, one of the opposition) to clean your boots during the game.

Stamp – an alternative method for cleaning the mud off your studs – a rather more sophisticated wheeze than shoeing

Wheeze – a jolly jape and a spiffing way to take the piss

Hooker – a lady much favoured on tour – also the thorn between two props. This double meaning is in no way confusing unless you are a prop or reality TV twat

Prop – two big bastards who share a hooker (of either persuasion, which they don’t need – persuasion not hooker type that is)

Prop – an inanimate object – so, anyone in a reality TV show then

Sleb – a celebrity with absolutely no talent except to be a complete fucking moron.

Reality TV star – a perfect example of an oxymoron

On the piss – to partake of an excessive quantity of alcoholic beverages

Take the piss – to josh someone who you like (e.g. team mates) or to ridicule twats in a derogatory manner e.g. reality TV (obviously), politicians and anyone who played for Sidcup

Knock out – to prevent one of the opposition from taking further part in the match, especially

if you are playing Sidcup

Knock out – to produce or sell something e.g. ‘they are knocking out knock off gear in the market’

Knock off – a product that looks exactly like one that costs more than my first house e.g. a dodgy Gucci handbag.

Knocked up – an unfortunate by product of being on the piss and not having a coin for the condom machine

Fat bastard – what I see when I look in the mirror

Pony – a term for half a grand

Pony – used to describe something as being less than useful i.e. ‘that Graham Norton show is a load of old pony’

Bubble – someone who knocks out moussaka

Butchers – purveyors of pork – i. e. knocking out sausages, pasties and pies that put a bit of pork on you

Butchers – to take a closer perspective on something as in ‘have a good butchers at the lunch on that’ where lunch describes the rather nice décolletage of a nubile Doris

Doris – an appreciative and complimentary term for a member of the fairer sex (and who wouldn’t want some fairer sex?)

Glasgow handshake – a greeting that involves the meeting of foreheads – slightly more vigorous than the equivalent eskimo ‘hello’

Gaff – where you kip after a good night out – e.g.’ the queen knocks about in a nice gaff’

Try Tracker – a particularly stupid and pointless computer programme for predicting who will win a rugby match – an expensive alternative to saying ‘the team who scores the most points’

Spam – e-mails from Burkina Faso informing that you are to get several million quid for nothing

Spam – the bit between your eyebrows and hairline e.g. Farralley and Jimmy have a big spam

Tackle – the act of preventing some big bastard from running past (or over) you

Tackle – the stuff down the front of your shorts

Tyrone the troll – founder of my fan club who astutely commented “your blog is shit” – hard to argue to be honest

Chunky Special – a unique and innovative fund raising scheme involving loads of raffle tickets but a dearth of prizes

Boat Race – an alternative 7 a side game involving 28 pints of beer and a stopwatch

Glass Munching – an Askean invention that is a superior and advanced ‘fast pint’ contest

Plod – the maximum speed achieved on one of my morning runs

Plod – the old bill

Zygomatic arch – the bit on the side of your swede that gets dented badly when you get a good shoeing

Poncy – one of the many words to describe reality TV twats

Bosh – a good alternative when shoeing is not appropriate because he is upright - involves use of shoulder, fists and, if you are in the front row, application of the head (see Glasgow handshake)

Pasty - a particular food delicacy in Turnip Town (don’t for fuck’s sake put turnips in it)

 

There seem to be several meanings for the same or similar expressions here so I am not sure that it will be of much help, but then again I actually don’t give a fuck (see above).

Terry suggested that I group the glossary into stuff to do with rugby, drinking, reality TV and other headings – but as you can see, I couldn’t be arsed!

Best Defence

It's been a tough week for the England camp, there has been lots of media criticism and advice for Stuart Lancaster from all over the place (I bet he’s right chuffed).

He’s responded with reasons for why he thinks the team have underperformed and explaining his decision to move Owen Farrell to number 12.

Seems that everyone has a view (including me if you’ve read earlier posts here) and much of the ideas suggested to him don’t seem to have coincided with his own and subsequent team selection for this evening’s game against Samoa.

That’s okay, of course, he’s the guy in charge and will take the plaudits or brickbats at the end of the day. His best (and only) defence is to win – this week and next and then to deliver the 6 Nations next year – preferably with a Grand Slam. He might have his hands full with this ambition, not least with Ireland, Wales, France and even possibly the Jocks. The Wallabies next week will not be a walkabout and I dread to think what the reaction will be if we don’t get a result today.

If we continue to underperform less than a year out from a home based World Cup the criticism will become ever more intense not least with continued refusal to even consider Armitage and Cipriani. There is also the problem at Bath where Sam is apparently to be played in the back row. Had the RFU helped out with his transfer fee (and indeed for Armitage too) then they could have pressured the club to play Burgess in the centre. The RFU are not short of a few bob and the argument that it sets a precedent is fatuous – there are no major England stars (except Steffon) playing abroad currently. Even if they did make an ‘exception’ for him it won’t make an iota of difference to who goes abroad after the World Cup. What will incentivise England players to go to France (apart from the money) is if England have a miserable time next year.

Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team have been given an unprecedented 6 year contract – the NZ Union are only now thinking about extending Steve Hansen’s deal beyond 2015 and he’s in charge of the best team on the planet. The RFU obviously believe in Lancaster, now he has to prove them right to the rest of us.

The important thing is the here and now, not RFU dictats  - Stuart Lancaster and his team have to start winning – if they do, then all the criticism will prove unfounded – and that has to start tonight – and go on until October 31st 2015 – about that there can be no argument

Hello Dolly

For some time the economy in China has apparently been outperforming the rest of the world. I thought this was because of their industrious nature and the growth in high technology expertise. Turns out I’m wrong – no big surprise there I know.

They have one business that is seriously booming – making sex dolls! They are knocking out (pun intended) thousands of these attractive (?) Doris’ I understand.

The town of Ningbo (seriously – although it does sound like something from the Mikado) has the highest number of sex doll factories in the whole of China. Their mayor must be very proud!

The details are here - http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/inside-bizarre-blow-up-sex-doll-4616175 and you’ll see from the photos that the dolls are about as realistic as FIFA’s suggestion that the Qatar bid was totally straight (which at least the dolls appear to be anyway).

Still I’m sure the boobs feel as real as a lot that you see in the tabloids and on those American TV shows – you know - the ones where the girls in bikinis run along the beach and nothing wobbles!

They have ten different models, including a ‘premium high end brand’ – I’m scared to ask.

More worryingly there is a video of an interview on ITV with a couple who have threesomes with dolls! They have to be taking the piss surely, don’t they? Although thinking about it, maybe I’ll have a word with Terry – she does look somewhat bored with me these days. Do you think perhaps it’s the Alan Carr onesy and night cap?

And there’s even a bloke who has a complete fucking (ha ha) collection of these things - http://www.dailystar.co.uk/real-life/410360/Sex-doll-collector - he’s lobbed out for 240 of them – must be quite exhausting I should think – presumably the dolls (and his Mrs) are not the jealous type.

There was a very funny ‘Only Fools’ episode that featured these ‘creature comforts’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IG8dw5qwXQ and it is hard (sic) to take this business very seriously. I can’t think of even any props who would fork out for one! And yes I did mean fork!

Nice One Harro

Blokes of my age and anyone who watches UK Gold might remember an episode of the ‘Likely Lads’, where Bob and Terry spend a day trying not to find out the score of an England game so that it doesn’t spoil it for them when it’s shown later on TV. Inevitably it doesn’t work out.

I know how they feel – it’s happened to me twice now. The first time was in the Rugby World Cup in 1991 – Rich was playing in a football tournament for the cubs and it coincided with England playing France in the quarter final. We both wanted to watch the recording when we got home and so we didn’t turn on the radio or talk to anyone until we were sat in front of the TV watching the anthems at Twickenham. Terry very kindly came in with tea and buns for the pair of us and then was about to wander back to the kitchen when she commented “So, who do we play in the semi then?”

I suppose it could have been worse – we might have lost, but it did somewhat bugger up the excitement of watching the match.

Normally this isn’t a problem as I only tend to watch England rugby games live and can’t be caught out. That is until last night – like a twat I’d forgotten it was an evening kick off and didn’t object when Terry said she’d booked to go for a meal with Frank and Petula who are down for the weekend.

After sulking a bit Frank and I graciously said it was okay we’d watch it when we got back.

It was pretty easy to avoid knowing the England score and I deliberately didn’t take my phone to the restaurant. Back home once again, we settled down to watch the recording when I stupidly picked up my phone. This thing cleverly shows text messages on the screen even before you unlock the bastard and I couldn’t help seeing quite clearly a text from Harro “Don’t think Aus will be shitting themselves! Rather be watching Strictly!” Thanks very much Steve bleeding Jobs!

To be fair, Harro hadn’t given the actual score but it did sort of spoil the anticipation of England running riot. He also didn’t realise that I wouldn’t be watching as we normally bounce idiot comments to and fro during the games. I didn’t say anything to Frank – no point in us both getting bloody depressed.

The one good thing to come out of this is finding out that Harro might actually ‘Strictly’ or at least knows when the mincing about is on – Twat!

Just Stuff

Some bits and pieces from the weekend -

I had a pretty bad day predicting the Premiership results – ending up with 3.5 out of 6 (the half being the draw between Tigers and Saracens).

Because of the international player commitments I played safe and called Gloucester and Saints as home wins – Quins and the Chiefs proved me wrong and underlined how little I know about rugby (or much else for that matter). Fortunately I managed to do better with the other 4 matches!

So my running total after 7 rounds has dropped to 72.6% and I will need to study form, coaches’ strategies and team selections carefully for this weekend’s games. Alternatively, I could just stick to my usual method of taking a stab in the dark after a few beers. Don’t scoff, I find being pissed is a real help – mainly because it takes far less time than buggering about with statistics.

 

I had decided to leave off sharing the e-mails from idiots for a while, but then this one arrived yesterday and I would take the piss but I haven’t a fucking clue what it’s about. I think maybe it’s some sort of conundrum for me to solve as the heading says it’s a ‘test’ –

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Mario [mailto:Jenna.87@iol.cz]
Sent: 16 November 2014 17:13
To: davidshute@lineone.net
Subject: Test 057504A

 

test message.

 

August 12, 1992, and received her commission on August 17, 1992. Also in 1950, Oldsmobile stopped naming the 98 series and so from then through 1996 it was simply known as the Oldsmobile 98.

On 11 January that year, he married Margaret, with whom he had two children. Biesbosch's direct connection with the sea.

 

I promise you that is the whole of the text – Mario didn’t even sign it! I think it might be like that puzzle with a bloke who’s been hanged in a locked room with a pool of water by a polar bear wearing sunglasses and dancing to Abba – although, thinking about it, I might have got that a bit mixed up.

 

Finally a gun story I saw from the States (where else) about a ‘killing contest’ involving children as young as 10 - http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0IX2QD20141113?irpc=932 You might think that this is somewhat distasteful, but It’s really okay because they give out cash prizes for those who kill the most wildlife. Steve Adler, head of Idaho for Wildlife, could not immediately be reached for comment but has previously said that critics were seeking to restrict gun rights spelled out in the U.S. constitution and tarnish a decades-old hunting tradition in the American West. "We're stereotyped as a bunch of Idaho rednecks out to kill as many animals as we can," he told Reuters last month.

I wonder why on earth he should think that?

The RFU get the Christmas Spirit

I’m not sure just how much the RFU will make out of the autumn internationals but I imagine it will be a good few bob.

But don’t let anyone say that they aren’t generous – I received an e-mail from RFU Direct this morning offering me the chance to get a free gift –

 

From: RFU Direct [mailto:therugbystore@replies.rfu.com]
Sent: 20 November 2014 09:10
To: davidshute@lineone.net
Subject: FREE Key Ring On Orders Over £75** | Available Whilst Stocks Last

 

 

 

Wow – don’t go mad guys – a free key ring as long as I spend £75? Brilliant!

With England shirts costing over £50 it won’t take long to get to my free prize If I do spend the required amount I get the key ring – or I could just buy one for £3.99 – which in itself looks exceptional value for something that most places give away as a cheap promotional item!

. In fact if I splash out for three shirts I’ll qualify for 2 key rings – a real case of the more you spend the more you save! But you’d better hurry guys – it states clearly that this whizzo offer is only available while stocks last – so if there’s an unexpected run on key rings as super Chrissie Presents you’ll be out of luck (or possibility in it)

Still I’m being cynical – it represents a discount of 5% so is not to be sniffed at. ‘Every Little Helps’ as that other organisation says – let’s hope the RFU shop doesn’t go the same way eh?

What on earth was I thinking?

When I played rugby, many ‘over the moons’ ago, I picked up my fair share of injuries (see ‘Getting Hurt’ if you want a good laugh). These included some exotic complaints  like a broken zygomatic arch, smashed jaw, dislocated ankle and a detached sense of humour (obviously I made the last one up – it may be a bit odd but it’s still functioning somewhat, albeit weird). I lost count of the stitches – but my constant falling over kept my team mates in loads of them.

In the game in which my jaw was separated, I also broke my leg – actually in separate incidents! Unbelievably, I finished the match – although I was then out for a few months afterwards (what a nance!). This and other hilarious incidents are detailed earlier in the blog.

Anyway, after I stopped playing I didn’t seem to get anywhere near as many injuries – maybe there is some sort of correlation there, who knows? Obviously I still fell over a lot when pissed – but not having some fat bastard prop dropping his knee into my back afterwards was a distinct advantage. So, I’ve been pretty lucky, however over the last few years a number of my mates have had a number of problems. These range from arthritis, hip and knee replacements, heart by-passes and back problems through to having to take regular medication. Obviously this is not just one bloke – seriously, nobody could have so much bad luck all at once (well apart from Ed Milliband anyway!) For some strange (i.e. stupid) reason it never occurred to me that I’d have any of these things happen to me (ailments, not being Ed, obviously). Why the fuck I imagined I was some sort of Peter Pan (even without the tights, poncy hat and ridiculous shoes) I have no bleeding idea.

Up until a couple of months ago I was still going to the gym 4 days a week and running on Saturday or Sunday – sometimes both. Admittedly I was down to only 3 or 4 miles and it was becoming more of a plod than a jog but I the only real pain was the bloody rain and people taking the piss when they passed me on a zimmer frame. It’s actually less than five years since I managed a half marathon in aid of Terry’s chemo clinic – it took two hours but was worth it for all the generous donations from friends and Askeans (cheers guys). My finishing position (on my knees) in the over 60s section wasn’t anything to write home about either (especially as I was too shagged to hold a pen).

The point of all this is that from feeling invincible (alright – about half okay) I suddenly find myself falling apart. The knees are shot and my shoulder is completely buggered. Insanely I had started to try and run faster on the treadmill – mainly so I could impress any Doris’ I encountered on the road runs (and to stick two fingers up to the Nazis on zimmers). After three of these speed sessions I got shooting pains in both my knees – consequently I not only can’t run anymore – it fucking hurts walking up and down stairs. So much for all that bollocks from the medical profession about the benefits of keeping fit – twats! The shoulder is manageable as long as I take the anti-inflammatory tabs – although I’m buggered if I can work out why the doc thinks it’s likely to burst into flames.

I still manage three days in the gym a week, but it’s all a bit poncy – no impact stuff and the size of the weights I can now chuck about are going down in around the same proportion as my own beef is going up. Fuck knows how bad a shape I’ll be in when I have to stop altogether! The emphasis being on shape!

As a mate down the gym so astutely pointed out “It’s shit getting old!”

Handbag Workout

I’ve included a number of clips in the past featuring some good examples of handbags at dawn. Here’s a link to three more – one in France includes the ref dishing out 4 red cards when the forwards (and several backs) stopped slapping each other. To be honest he might as easily sent the whole lot off.

There is also a good video from an ARL game - http://www.joe.ie/sport/video-serious-amount-of-slaps-thrown-during-massive-amateur-rugby-brawl-in-france/476520

Here’s another link to some ‘legal’ hits from last weekend - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2277795-biggest-hits-in-world-rugby-for-weekend-of-november-21-23

Legal yes - but nowhere near as much fun!

Wanted: Turnip Slicer Operative

A couple of days ago I mentioned that I am now receiving e-mail offers to find me an attractive job down here in Carrot Country. Well things are now hotting up – there are two employment agencies competing  to place me in gainful employment – Candidate Point has joined Jobungo in trying to get me working again! These head hunters are so keen that one of them actually phoned me yesterday – seriously!

The conversation went like this – obviously there was a ‘ring’ ‘ring’ sound first

Me: “Hello” (I always was a tad verbose)

Him: “Is that David Shute?”

Me:” Yeah”

Him: “My name’s Matt and I work for an employment agency (he didn’t say who – that was a clue wasn’t it?). We have your details on computer”

Me: “Okay”

Matt:” You work with machinery, is that right?”

Me: “Er.. Well I can use a lawn mower”

Matt:” But you’ve worked in a factory”

Me: “Well, not for a long time”

Matt:” So what is your job?”

Me:” Advertising”

Matt:” You work in advertising?”

Me:” Well I did. But that….”

Matt: (cutting off my reply) ”Right” – at which point he hung up on me, which I thought a trifle rude as we seemed to be getting on so well and I don’t get many phone calls.

I’m not making this up – if I were I’d have made my replies a lot wittier!

I appreciate that I rather fucked up this telephone interview and am now working on my answers and presentation so I’ll be ready next time and can make a better impression.

I have started preparing an updated CV so that I don’t miss out on the next one.

 

Name: Shutey

 

Born: Just before middle of last century

 

Address: Dingly Dell, By Magic Pineapple, Turnipshire

 

Married: Yep (43+ years); 2 x kids and 2 x grandkids

 

Education:  Would have been nice

 

Work: Labourer (Blackwall Tunnel, Mersey Tunnel and Victoria line extension – several months; Marketing/ Advertising: 41 years

 

Experience: Pretty good with a Dyson, not so hot with electric drill or kettle

 

Ambition: To work with heavy machinery (bit of a porky, but is important in view of previous conversation)

 

Significant Achievements: Fast pint and member of unbeaten boat race team

 

Interests: Family, Rugby and mindless reality TV (obviously last one is to demonstrate my keen sense of humour and just in case the factory is in line for a documentary)

 

Referees: Any except that bastard who sent me off against Sidcup

 

What do you think – bet the head hunters will get a little hard on when they cop a load of my impressive creds!

Are we really getting there?

I had a good idea for taking the piss today but after watching yesterday’s game I sort of lost my sense of humour.

On several occasions over the last couple of weeks I have expressed doubts here and on web sites I write for over claims by media experts and pundits regarding England being second favourites for the 2015 World Cup. Many have gone on record as saying the final will be England v New Zealand and many have us repeating the 2003 triumph. They obviously know something I don’t, which I accept puts them with the majority.

However, it gives me no pleasure that my concerns have been underlined by our performances so far in the autumn internationals. No one will be fooled by thinking that the three point losses against the two top sides on the planet mean we are close to them in terms of preparation. Both score lines flatter us massively. In both games we narrowed the gap with less than a minute on the clock and then proceeded to finish them by dropping the ball – both literally and figuratively.

On the plus side we have discovered that we have more than one set of front fives who can mix it with anyone, although our line out was not perfect and we lost the ball twice in strong attacking positions. But there are few teams that can live with us up front. After that we don’t look anything like world beaters. Chris Robshaw is honest, industrious and never stops running, but when your opposite number in both games picks up the ‘man of the match’ it is fair to ask questions. I have no idea if Steffon Armitage is the answer – but then neither do the England coaches or the RFU either since they appear to have no interest in finding out. In just a few weeks Michael Cheika has shown the ARU that he is in sole charge of Wallaby rugby matters. He wanted Kurtley Beale so he got him on a plane to re-join the squad, despite the Union wanting to sack him. If we are serious about wanting to win next year I think we should at least find out if the European player of the year can bring anything to the party. I don’t care if he plays in Toulon or Timbuctoo – he might be better than someone playing in Tooting, so let’s just see, shall we? The stated argument is that someone playing abroad isn’t available for all the training sessions – it may have escaped their notice but it’s not exactly working out with those who are always there! If you want to find out Stuart, tell the RFU to FO and pick him for the 6 Nations. With a 6 year contract you can afford to be a bit cavalier. I mean home advantage on its own isn’t looking all that useful after the last fortnight.

Billy is a strong’ combative runner in the Premiership but, to me, he doesn’t look fit enough to compete with the likes of Read, Vermeulen, Faletau or Heaslip. I think we need to see Ben Morgan start with Billy as impact after 60.

Outside, at half back and midfield, our attacking game from kicks, in hand and counter looks weak, especially from a team who are supposed to be in contention next year. Again we need to look for alternative options. From what Stuart Lancaster said after the game there will be changes against Samoa, but, with respect, will that tell us enough and will he simply revert to the side he selected against the All Blacks and Springboks when we face the Wallabies?

A year out from a once in a life-time home based opportunity we still don’t know our best side.

You can’t hide behind the injury list either, although, to be fair Lancaster doesn’t. All international teams have injury concerns and whilst ours are among the worst at present, the problem is cyclical and others are likely to have similar difficulties in and around November next year. It is knowing how you’ll cope and having experienced replacements that will count.

Yesterday we looked hesitant on the ball, lacking penetration and direction. If we are going to persist with trying to simply bash our way through the opposition then we should try a midfield that is, at least capable of making a decent fist of it. A Manu and Sam combination may not be subtle, but it would scare the fuck out of most opposition teams.

Excuses like “we showed plenty of endeavour” and “we lacked execution” ring hollow after 5 successive defeats – I’d like to hear a bit of fire and anger from the coaches, not simple platitudes or being calm and reasonable. This is a professional cauldron not a mentoring programme.

I really do hope that I am wrong and there is a higher plan I can’t see. But I am a bit sceptical when all I hear is “we are nearly there”. Maybe, but is it where we need to be?

 

More Shute originals can be found here - www.rugbyoldbloke.wordpress.com

 

Or follow him on Twitter here – @rugbyoldbloke!