This little video captures some of the flavour of a very special day. The power and sound of the PA is lost but is still worth a view. My band and I, The Blackstars, feature in a few of the photos and the ‘Starman’ clip features us hitting a bum note! But hey, that’s live music!

Featuring Maggi Ronson, Paul Cuddeford, John O’Sullivan, Kevin Franklin, Jona Lewie, Philip Rambow, Clifford Slapper, Funmilayo and more


Jupiter NASA

After a nearly five-year journey, the unmanned, solar-powered Juno spacecraft should be going into orbit around planet Jupiter, a storm-torn ball of poisonous gas, in the afternoon of July 4th. So long as all goes to plan that is. Jupiter is not for the faint-hearted and Juno is wrapped in titanium to protect it’s sensitive instruments from the solar system’s strongest magnetic field and most lethal radiation belts.

Fantastic YouTube video on the JOI (Jupiter Orbit Insertion) adventure here…

A very nice page of graphics and info from New York Times here

A good piece of the subject thanks to Wired right here


Wilshere-Henderson-Roy-Hodgson-Kane-Rooney © Daily Mirror
Photo: Daily Mirror

After England’s defeat to Iceland I couldnt sleep. I wasn’t upset or delusional about losing – I simply couldn’t work out why what I can see on TV is not apparent to those directly involved. This ‘sketch‘ is are my imaginings in the middle of the night after Britain has voted ourselves out of Europe and almost as unimaginably (OK, there’s the delusion) been beaten by footballing ‘minnows’ Iceland. 

It’s Monday, four hours before England take on Iceland in Nice for a place in the quarter finals and Manager Roy Hodgson has a plan…

‘OK squad we’ve had a week off and it’s probably time we looked at tonight’s match. As you will have seen from the referendum we older types have long memories. We don’t need to add any new knowledge when we already know the facts, eh, guys?…

‘I remember that last time we played these chaps, we won 6-1… Quite recently, in 2004, was it Ray? It was a friendly and we took it quite seriously. It was June and it was the first game we’d won that year, so we must have done.

‘For our next game it was the Euros and we lost to France, so this time all we have to do is reverse one of those scores. It’s simple… and I suggest we keep the first score and change the second one, OK. Got that? Win the Iceland game as before and then WIN the next game against France.

‘OK, OK, settle down, I know that’s bit of a surprise. I know we normally only take one game at a time but hey, what can go wrong with that?

‘Now, I think this long rest since the last game has done us all a power of good. They were hard work eh, Slovakia… not letting us go near the goal… Wouldn’t want to be playing them again too soon! Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all been enjoying the banter and playing lots of head tennis and won’t have lost any sharpness or focus in a week, like the French did… until those plucky Irish woke them up, eh, Gary?

‘So, talking of Gary there, he was saying he’s never had afternoon tea at the Negresco here in Nice. Imagine that? We’re certainly going to change that today! And Ray… Ray had never been on a boat trip on the river in Paris so we had to change that didn’t we? Seems we missed going to Iceland’s last game against Austria at the time but not to worry, I asked a few of the backroom boys to pop along and check that they just defend like they did last time in 2004… Gotta respect that, eh?

‘I was just wondering… why aren’t the Dutch at this tournament? Maybe you can look that up on your phone Gary while we’re at the Negresco… Anyway, don’t want to be late for our high tea. Ready Gary?… Ray?… Oh yes, one other thing… I’ve got someone to have a chat with you all, to inspire you for tonight’s game! I’ve only got Boris Johnson on Skype to get you ready for tonight! He knows a thing or two, doesn’t he?! Right I see Boris is on the line so over to you Boris… Will I need a brolly, do you think Ray?’

Boris’ face lights up the room as the squad sit entranced. He’s witty and charming but is surprised to discover that there’s more to this task than he realised…

‘What, you don’t have a gameplan for the match?’ He bellows ‘Not my thing but hey-ho let’s see what we can do… Rooney, our captain, illuminate!…’

‘Well, I’m a bit slow now and have to hang around the centre circle but I can take penalties’

‘OK, that’s decided’ says Boris. ‘Sterling, how about you?’

‘I like running with the ball, I’m right footed but if someone gets in the way I fall down’

‘Right footed eh? So that means you go on the left wing. Do some falling down in the box and Rooney can score a penalty. Yes? great.

‘Hart, our number one keeper, all OK there?’

‘No problem’ says Hart ‘There’s some great keepers at this tournament, if only I could have a few shots at me to prove I’m one of them’

‘Let’s hope so then, good luck with that… Sturridge, what do you make of this?’

‘Well, whatever God tells me is good enough for me’

‘Right then, take the other wing. You’re left footed so that means you should go on the right, no? We can’t have you upfront as Kane will be banging them in from there, so please don’t play like you are out of position or something’

‘Lalana, how about you?’

‘Well if Glenn Hoddle was picking the team I’d be in every position but he isn’t so… dunno’

‘Oh er… right, Kane, you should be up front… and set pieces… you know the kind of service you need so I suggest you take all the free kicks and so on’

‘Vardy, Rashford, you be ready to come on and change the game in an emergency. You should get plenty of time to do that’

‘Jack… oh Jack… Great goal you scored for the team, when was that again?’

‘Only a year ago now’ said Jack ‘I’m back from injury, should be ready for next season and the Manager says I’m ready to make things happen here. Stop laughing guys, it’s not my fault!’

‘OK, OK, whatever the Manager says then, I’m sure he knows something we don’t… Wingers Rose and Walker I’m sure you’re ready after two weeks rest. Must make a nice change from playing twice in a week! Mr Cahill and Mr Smalling, are you ready?

‘As ready as I’ll ever be, haha’ says Cahill

‘I played for the Manager at Fulham and learned so much so I’ll say the same’ replies Smalling

‘Right, right, and that lion thing you guys have been wearing on your backs, your lucky charm I guess. Don’t go losing that as he’s worked so far… yes, no, OK we don’t know. Well trust that furry Lion. He’ll bring you luck against a team that have succeeded playing the same way for two years now.’

‘So, Gentlemen, I’ll leave you with this thought… We may be leaving Europe in the political sense, but there’s no reason we can’t show these Johnny Europeans a thing or two about English work rate, long term planning, leadership and open-minded thinking. About working together etc, etc… And, you know, if the unthinkable happens and we lose then I recommend you just ignore the result and it might just go away. Hey-ho!’

Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one thing is offered. Because a person may refuse to accept what is offered, the two options are taking it or taking nothing. In other words, one may “take it or leave it.”


Keith Houchen
Keith Houchen scores Coventry’s second goal at Wembley – no diving header has been so aesthetic or dramatic. Photograph: PA/PA Archive/Press Association Ima

As we head towards the 2016 FA Cup final between Manchester Untited and Crystal Palace I am packing my bags to head to France and about to be out of the country during the final for the first time ever. But there is one final I watched on TV that I will never forget.

I’ve been living in London for most of my life but apart from a single year of supporting Leicester City, thanks to the influence of a neighbour a year older than me Coventry City have been my ‘home’ team.

Arsenal are my local team and I swear and get frustrated when they reach 2nd place in the Premiership when they should reaaly have wond the damn thing.

But back in 1987 there was only one team. I’d left Islington for cheaper climes south of the Thames and without a fellow Coventry fan to share the glory with settled down to watch in the room above my in-laws pub to watch the Sky Blues take on the mighty Tottenham Hotspurs.

I was naive enough to think that City could win and win they did. 3-2 to be exact. It took ‘extra time’ after Spurs scored first within two minutes of kick off. It took a deflection of Gary Mabutt’s knee to settle the tie but inbetween was Keith Houchen scored an extraordinary goal.

The story is here in The Guardian. The video is here on YouTube

If you read the article or watch the video then you will discover that better goals have been scored and know that many teams have won the FA Cup. But only once has Coventry won a trophy of such standing (They came second when they were promoted to the top division) and as they now languish in the third tier I don’t see that changing anytime soon!