June 4th, 2003


'Tis another cygnusfap-style ten-pointer

1. Interesting footnote to be announced at 8:10am in Britain tomorrow, the city to be named European Capital of Culture for 2008. The idea is that between 2005 and 2019, each country of the EU (...so quite possibly between 2005 and 2029 in practice, or maybe longer) in turn will nominate one of its cities to be European Capital of Culture for that year; the UK gets its year in 2008 and names the lucky city tomorrow. There's no actual money involved for winning, but pots of publicity and a big tourism boost for 2008. We're down to the last six cities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, Oxford and Newcastle-Gateshead. The last of these is 40 miles north of here, the others are all 100+ miles away, so I'm hoping for a (relatively) home win.

The local branch of the BBC claim that Independent research has shown that European Capital of Culture 2008 would boost tourism to the North East and bring in four million additional overnight visitors, a £1.2 billion income boost to the region creating 24,000 jobs. I reckon there's a few misplaced zeroes there, but it'd still be nice. Blue Square closed their book a few days back but made Newcastle-Gateshead 6/5 favourite, with Liverpool 11/4, Birmingham 4/1, Cardiff 7s and both Bristol and Oxford 10s against. (Mmm... a 123% book. Nice, nice.) How'way the lads!

2. Talking of betting, you can get 8/1 against New York hosting the 2012 Olympics with Billy Hill. (Paris 5/2, London 7/4 - though Laddies put London 3/1 against and agree with the consensus of Paris' favouritism.) Can't find any odds quoted against Vancouver winning the Winter Olympics in 2010, but I'd be very surprised if North America got neither 2010 nor 2012. (There's always Toronto 2012, though...)

3. The European Chess Championships are in progress now. England have sent three Grandmaster representatives, Luke McShane (once a prodigy, now making steady progress towards the world top 100, will be at university with cygnusfap next year - Cyg, there's a drink in it if you can get him onto LJ), Stuart Conquest and Peter Wells. McShane has gone D-W-D-W so far, which isn't so bad, and Conquest did get a draw against 2700+ Vassily Ivanchuk in round one before crashing and burning. Wells started by castling queenside (not actually starting with that as his first move, which would be illegal; he scored 0-0-0 in his first three games) and has much to do. McShane will also be playing in the Greenland Open 2003, which I only mention because it's in the town of Qaqortoq. That's not a town name, it's a "splodge your fingers on the keyboard to generate an alien name" name.

4. Still no results from the World Puzzle Championship qualifying test. Keep plugging away, lads.

5. Uncle Roy is only around you Londoners until Saturday. Haste ye down to the Institute of Contemporary Arts for the mixed-reality game of your life, maybe.

6. There was a Scavenger hunt in West Bromwich last weekend which I helpfully didn't tell you about because I'm saving the story up so I can tell you about the one in Coventry next weekend instead. The West Brom one was won by the team of bloggin' Labour MP Tom Watson, who writes about the experience in his blog. He also writes about being guest of honour at the opening of a new Indian restaurant. Who was compere for the evening's entertainments? One David St. John, last seen irritating the good parishoners of ukgameshows. Bad luck, Tom. I regard it as karma coming round for slagging off the Liberal Democrats and Proportional Representation so much.

7. Collapse )

7b. dancingrain demonstrates 110% good taste in Flash animations, as well as compatibility, by pointing to Tom Lehrer's The Elements: the movie. Best Flash fun for months.

7c. I tend not to do many LJ questionnaires, but dancingrain also points to this very interesting initiative: add the question of your choice to the next questionnaire to do the rounds. Some very interesting ones lined up already.

8. Two days before the launch of Order of the Phoenix, the BBC will broadcast cruiserweight interviewer Jeremy Paxman grilling J. K. Rowling. Fingers crossed he will ask "Did you threaten to overrule the publisher by writing Harry/Draco?" fourteen times in a row.

Actually, I dare say that I'll tape the interview but not watch it until after I've read the book. Paxo sez "As well as dropping some clues about what will happen in the Order of the Phoenix...", so here's another occasion for the spoilerphiles to annoy the spoilerphobes. The usual threats apply.

9. I have observed an interesting trend in Middlesbrough pertaining to cherished car number plates recently. There's a tendency in Middlesbrough whereby if you want a particular plate but find it's unavailable, taken or way too expensive, just add a few to the number and hope people work out the reference. Examples: B 18 GUN, clearly numbered 2 too high, plus K 5 NKY, which is 4 out.

10. Lastly, I'll be in Oxford from Thursday 12th June to Sunday 15th June. Would any of you fine burghers be kind enough to offer me accommodation on the night of Thursday 12th to Friday 13th in return for food? *realises significance of date, hears thunder rumble, watches lightning flash* Floor space alone would be perfectly lovely.
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