ok, I can't wait any longer for tips on how to paste pictures, so I've acquired some free webspace. You can't stop me no matter how hard you try!
Anyway. Here goes....
The bar has moved
So they said at the press conference yesterday. It definitely looked to me as if it were in the same place as usual but no, it’s different. It’s higher, apparantly. So to drink at London Irish you need to increase your height by 3 inches or you won’t get served. Oh no, hang on, that’s the Madejski Hotel Bar. Silly me.
As mentioned on the MB yesterday, I found this a rather uninspiring conference compared to other years. For a start, it was uber fast. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. Ian Taylor spoke first, mentioned business several times, investors several more, and then handed over to Brian. He looked as if he wanted to go home. Maybe he did, or maybe it’s just me, and maybe Robin will disagree with my appraisal, and maybe the moon is made of cheese. I didn’t take notes, as Robin rightly pointed out, because I never do. What is said will appear on the official site. How it feels to be there is slightly different.
So how did it feel? Difficult to judge in isolation, but in comparison to the previous 6 conferences I’ve attended over the years, it was like a cure for insomnia. This may well be a very good thing, though. There have been occasions in the past where rockets have gone off and performing llamas have been paraded through the top bar. The team have promptly finished in the bottom four, missed relegation by a whisker and bored everyone senseless on the pitch. Maybe this more detached face of LI says they’re now concentrating on other things, and the llamas can go back to Peru. They’ve already done what they’re supposed to do (the team, not the llamas), so all they need to do now is exactly the same thing, but better. Raising the bar, round 2. In which case, perversely, perhaps one should feel encouraged by this. So I’ll take it as a positive.
The Catt was certainly his usual amiable self, but he must get a bit fed up of people pointing out the fact that he’s 134 and very, very old. When he first joined we had Sir Julian of the EasterBrook asking him if he was grateful that someone had signed him, even LI. Yesterday it was “why do you bother? You’ve won everything already, why not just get your slippers and pipe?”. He takes it very well, though. He still has unfulfilled ambitions, mainly to make sure that the people he’s worked with over the past few years do the very best that they possibly can, rather in the same way that Sheasby flapped his protective wing over the LI youngsters during his tenure. I would also like to think that another of Catt’s ambitions is to let off a stink bomb next to a major gathering of journalists and then run away. But he seems far too nice to do that.
I was scheduled to interview Riki Flutey, an interview which ultimately lasted less than 30 seconds because he’d been tied up previously doing some photographic work and probably wanted to go home and lie down after that. He was one of the last players on the pitch, and I was the last person with a Dictaphone left standing – standing for over half an hour whilst I watched a truly impressive catwalk performance.
Riki was apparently being photographed for a brochure. Not sure what the brochure was, but watching him at work was a revelation. He had to pout, point, parade and pirouette like Kate Moss. “This way, Riki, ok, now, just turn to the side and hold that pose, ooooooooh, lovely, marvellous”. Hands on hips looking moody, balanced in a crouching “I’m about to run into someone and hit them really hard” stylee, gazing into the distance like a romantic lead.
He was good at it though. Three youngsters lined up with him and he was as patient as it’s possible to be, doing the same move over and over and over again. “The photographer is a bit of a perfectionist” said one of the people involved, “he got a brilliant close up shot of the ball in the umpire’s hand in the England/Pakistan game at the weekend.” I began to worry and hoped Riki wasn’t liable to be disqualified in some future match for doing untoward things with a Gilbert. And the demands kept coming. “Watch Riki. Watch him, don’t take your eyes off him”, the three youngsters were told as Riki showed them how to do a double back flip and still kick a ball through the uprights. “Now, copy him, do what he just did”. Not asking much, then.
Riki was finally placed in front of a kind of inflatable blue blancmange with a logo. “Stand to one side so we can see the words”. So he did. The photographer clicked away. “Brilliant” he said, reviewing his work. “Oh, sorry. Can we do it again, your eye looks a bit odd”. Riki swivelled his eyes wildly at the camera like Mad Eye Moody on a drunken night out. But then posed patiently while the cameraman did his work. They're nothing if not professional, these fellas.
Meanwhile, here's Big Bad Bob making the acquaintance of a small fan.......