Danger Signs

I’d like to thank Sean B, aka The Great Bucko, for his excellent post and all of you who contributed to the discussion. Sean even got some old faces back! Really pleased it went down so well. I’m not sure a post coming up linking events of yesterday together is going to work, but that’s the joy of this. More importantly, anyone noticing the new photos on the Header?

I write this blog, in conjunction with my co-editor and guest posters, as a personal record of both my attitudes to the sport and also to the developments within the game. It is also here to reflect a little on what is going on with me (other writers can feel free to do the same) and events related to the blog that I experience.

Yesterday there came news that Giles Clarke would have to resign his role at the ECB in order to complete the end game of his master plan for world domination. I was reading an old edition of The Wisden Cricketer which contained the news of Clarke’s appointment. It was not without rancour. He went up against Surrey’s Michael Soper and the initial election finished 9 votes each. When it was re-run, Soper was bitter that three people who said they would vote for him turned and voted for Clarke. I wonder if those three would want those votes back right now! Of course, within a year of this election we’d be going through Sanford and all that and Teflon Giles was born.

Reading yesterday’s news was interesting. India are clearly changing the rules of the game just as the prize is at hand. The machinations that came about from the so-called stepping down from the head of the ECB last year look to be in jeopardy. A view from a source I speak to said that Clarke knew he would lose, Graves knew he would win, but both knew it would be a bloodbath to get to that spot. The messy compromise was that Graves knew next to nothing about the international organisational foibles, and that if he stepped down he would take that part of the job on – unpaid of course – while Graves could be the new man at the helm. This was, of course, very true. Clarke knew the then head honcho of Indian cricket extremely well. He was there to be Srini’s partner, and a new man might not have the chops to take the situation as it was. We should be grateful for the man’s foresight and equanimity.

Of course, this means some interesting organisation watching coming up. Clarke is going to gauge if he is going to win. If he thinks it is hopeless, then he’ll not put himself forward and keep his nice position at the ECB. If he does think he’ll win, he’ll resign (but probably as late in the piece as he can) but one thinks he needs India on side first and foremost and I don’t think many people know which way things are going. There are promising noises about ending the big three stitch up, but I’ll believe that when I see it. The U19 World Cup is proving, in a small way, the nonsense of the World Cup carve up.

The fact is though, with poor ticket sales on first viewing, for this year’s test cricket in England, the need for the big three revenue (we include South Africa who have been a big attraction over here) remains. In their own annual report they talk of the four year cycle. That revenue from tests is almost taken for granted by our authorities. The support of the England paying public will provide the revenue for the national game, and our prominence world wide should be rewarded on the global stage.

Sean’s piece on Friday night, and as I mentioned in Schism last weekend, emphasises that despite our despair at the ECB we still love the sport. But is that love taken for granted and would people walk away from the game if it became too much. Maybe yesterday for me proved that you can. DeNiro’s character in Heat comes up with that line about never getting involved in something/someone you couldn’t leave in 30 seconds. It’s not quite like that, but when the split is made, it’s hard to get back.

I was a football fan. Absolutely besotted by it for over three decades of my life. As soon as I got on a payroll, it was used to watch football. I went home and away. I’ve been to most grounds in the country, many of them no longer with us, including my team’s old home ground in 1993. I had the same seat in the new stadium from its opening until 2013. There were great highs – seeing my team run out against the great Liverpool team of the mid-to-late 80s and take the lead at Anfield would be one – and awful lows (Stern John, riot) but it was a story of life. We produced top talent and it was sold on, as the laws of economics dictate. But it was fun. It was really brilliant. It didn’t matter if we were on the up, or on the way down, I went. During that time I could never envisage packing it in.

I packed in my season ticket for a number of reasons. The traffic getting to the game was a nightmare. My brother, who went with me, had four kids and it took a fair bit of cash out of his pocket (and although he wouldn’t want me to use that as an excuse, it was a part of the decision). It wasn’t expensive but what we weren’t getting was entertainment at all. It was defensive, boring crap, played with a large coterie of transient footballers getting an end of career payday or loanees, and without that one thing any club needs. Hope. We were defeatists. Not for us Bournemouth… we didn’t have the nous for that. And no, I don’t quit on clubs not playing well, I quit because it was becoming an ordeal. I didn’t enjoy it.

I went to my team’s home game yesterday. Since I gave up my season ticket in 2013, I’ve returned to the ground once. My mate had a ticket for £5 and so, for reasons I still can’t quite fathom, I went (well, good to see some old mates was the best one). I found it sad. It’s the same old sport. Same old team walk-out of the tunnel. Same ground. Same turgid football, but I found it bereft of hope. 90 minutes dragged. I’d lost the connection to the team and it was never going to return. I still follow all their results, but it’s not got my emotional investment any more. I don’t think it ever could. Ironically, as I’m writing this Cristiano Ronaldo has just scored an amazing goal for Real Madrid, and they are hammering one of the cannon fodder in that league. It’s fine if you like these teams, the top ones, but the rest exist just to provide the entertainment for the show. If the understudies get too good, the big ones just nick their top players. There is no connection with clubs.

So could that happen to me with cricket? Well, I’ve taken an initial step and stopped getting test tickets for England matches at the Oval. We’ve been down that road before. The county game is still great fun if you get the right day. I can’t be arsed with T20s. But there’s the international game, and this blog, that keep me going. I have a Sky subscription for the cricket and NFL – I can take or leave the football – and now they have all the Majors, the golf. BTSport cover my baseball and basketball fandom. I can take or leave tennis, and darts and pretty much all else. International football perhaps would be an influence if it wasn’t on terrestrial.

But let’s face it. There’s no Brian Laras out there. Not really. While there is a lot of pomp and circumstance over the Big 4 batting titans (Kohli, Smith, Williamson and Root), there’s massive appreciation but for many reasons, not that certain something that gets you out of your seat. Well, my seat. Like it or not, KP had it. AB has it when he’s on form. I was checking some old photos yesterday and came across loads of a Hashim Amla masterclass against Middlesex on a rampant bunsen, and that resonates. It may be the blog, it may be the ECB, it is probably me. That connection, while still strong, isn’t unbreakable.

I’ve tried to steer away from the debates we’ve had this week on here, and reflect what yesterday meant to me – that’s what blogs are for, and I don’t pretend that I represent anyone other than me. But I do believe that an all consuming passion can burn out if care is not taken to preserve what creates that passion. There are still great things I love about this game, and just how much I do will be tested to the utmost in the not too distant future. Cricket is at the crossroads internationally and utmost care needs to be taken. We may see one of the main sores cured if Clarke doesn’t get to his dream job and the ECB is free from his influence. I don’t think it will happen. For the world game, and the future of many us who support cricketers from everywhere, this might be the best thing. It might.

Have a great week, and we’ll be in touch!

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43 thoughts on “Danger Signs

  1. man in a barrel Jan 31, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    I left cricket when Gooch got rid of Gower. I did not connect again until about 1997. Then I worked abroad and coverage was difficult but at least England put up a fight against Australia, until 2003, when they reverted to picking crocks. I have been through ups and downs.

    I do not appreciate bring told that a match win redeems the losing characteristics of the worst captain I have ever seen. Look up The Hon Lionel Jackson’s stats in the 1905 Ashes. Top of the bowling and batting averages.

    Like

  2. man in a barrel Jan 31, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    While you are about that, look up the card of the match against West Indies at Headingley 1976. A man much reviled by the British establishment came damned close to winning that match off his own bat, with help from Alan Knott and a great bowling performance from Snow, Willis and Selfy. Greig was the precursor of KP. He still remains my hero for the way he spanked Roberts, Holding etc round the park. When Cook does something like that, ask me to worship him.

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    • thelegglance Jan 31, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      That it took the TCCB and ECB 30 years to so much as acknowledge Greig’s existence is utterly shameful. Remember, this is the organisation that happily re-integrated those who turned their back on England to play in apartheid South Africa.

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      • Mark Jan 31, 2016 / 10:19 pm

        I remember him giving a great interview, I think it was Sky a few years before he died. He talked about that period, and how he was treated by the English establishmemt. His daughter was uninvited from friends parties because of what her dad did. How fucking cowardly is that?

        He also pointed out that his father, who I believe was from Scottish heritage had fought for this country in WW 2. He didn’t neeed lectures from the so called jumped up professional little Englanders.

        Once again the England cricket Authorities hated the idea of anything that would bring more money for some players. Cricket has always had this bizzare double world which is very conservative yet requires quite a strong player power trade union.

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    • SimonH Feb 1, 2016 / 9:28 am

      Apologies for the pedantry MIAB, but Selfy didn’t play in that Headingley Test – Alan Ward was the third seamer. It was a great match and is well-served on Youtube.

      I wonder what was Greig’s greatest innings for England? He had a century in India, on a difficult pitch and with a high fever, that effectively won the game that Selfy raves about. NZ almost certainly would have beaten England at TB in 1973 but for his 139 – and he took seven wickets as well. But his best has to be the 110 at the Gabba against Lillee and Thomo in 74/75. Unbelievable chutzpah and guts to goad them into losing their discipline as he did in that innings. The next highest England score was 48. The great Robelinda2 has it on YT.

      One thing not often recalled about Greig was that it was he who spotted Brearley. Greig pushed for Brearley as his v/c on the 76/77 India tour when Brearley had only played two Tests and his county captaincy record at that time wasn’t that outstanding.

      Something else I only recently discovered about Greig was that he was Kerry Packer’s ambassador who signed up the West Indies to WSC. Given how the West Indies’ players felt about the WICB, that was the definition of pushing at an open door.

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  3. Mark Jan 31, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Interesting observations Dmitri. My love for the game has waned, and so to football. Giles Clark is like the people who took over football. People like David Dien at Arsenal. They wanted a financial model, based on who had the most money. I saw him interviewed once before the start up of the Premiership, he was contemptious of the idea of sharing out the Money with lower level teams. It’s socialist he said. Now Arsenal aren’t doing to bad these days, but I did chuckle to myself when a billionaire took over Chelsea and Man City. To listen to Wenger moan about “financial doping” is priceless. Arsenal were fine with being the biggest shark in the pool when they had their chance. Nothing funnier than capitalists whinging about capitalism.

    (By the way, if the likes of Leicester and Palace, and Watford keep bing competitive expect the big premiership teams to break away again, and sell their TV rights individually. Good luck to Watford trying to sell your TV rights on your own. Modern sport has become like all other capitalist enterprises. If you can’t beat the opposition fairly on the playing field, you use your financial power to screw your competitors. The aim of the big clubs in football or cricket is to eliminate the completion.)

    I watch a lot of individual sports these days. Golf, tennis, and so forth. What I enjoy is the lack of the ludicrous coach/manager worshipping by the media. There is no team selection or team politics. No bizzare theories about why a player has been dropped. Also, you don’t get the idiocy of ………” they didn’t sing the national anthem loud enough so they are not motivated ” clap trap. Andy Murray lost this morning because he want good enough. Not because of a referee or an umpire or the coaches half time team talk. A figure like KP stands or falls on merit, and not because of Pygmy like morons who decide if he should play or not. There is alot to be said for it.

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    • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 9:12 am

      Highly recommend Simon Barnes’s article in The Spectator (linked on KP’s twitter feed which is ironic given Barnes has a go at show offs and T20). It nails the connectivity point I was trying to make. His bit on sport as entertainment is spot on.

      Like

      • SimonH Feb 1, 2016 / 10:19 am

        Sean Ingle has written another excellent piece on sports’ governance in the Guardian (just about their only ATL sports’ writer there worth reading at the moment).

        He also recommends the Barnes article.

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      • Mark Feb 1, 2016 / 6:06 pm

        I have just read that piece, it’s good.

        Sport is becoming just entertainment for entertainment sake. Sponsors will decide how Man U play. Sport is now just another vehicle to sell product. Nothing more, nothing less. If it doesn’t sell product it’s not wanted by the elites running it.

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    • Mark Jan 31, 2016 / 10:26 pm

      Yes, But they can’t drop Andy or Jamie. They can’t say he was looking out of the window at the wrong time.

      Andy and Jamie employ the entourage, not the other way round. And once the match starts there is nothing they can do. No half time team talks or substitutes. If it doesn’t work Andy gets the blame. It’s up to him if he wants to Fire the coach.

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  4. man in a barrel Jan 31, 2016 / 10:39 pm

    My point exactly, Mark. If the captain does not know how to play, he should not be captain. Greig knew his limitatyions, so he got shrewd guys around him to help him.. For chef, that would be an act of weakness. But everyone knows how weak he is.

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  5. "IronBalls" McGinty Feb 1, 2016 / 11:12 am

    There you go…you see…all you doubters and cynics having a go at poor old Giles and he’s just today magnanimously announced how delighted he is to partner the BBC and allow them to show highlights of all ICC events in the interests of FTA access to cricket??
    It’s a start I suppose?? Pardon me for wanting to be sick in a bucket though!!

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    • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 11:54 am

      On a digital platform. Not on TV. This sounds like a YouTube clip package, like Sun Goals or whatever it is. Hardly a game changer.

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      • Arron Wright Feb 1, 2016 / 12:00 pm

        The Guardian have decided to headline their cricket page with it, though.

        Having completely ignored the Clarke/ICC situation all weekend.

        Doubtless a horse’s mouth phone transcript is on the way soon.

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      • SimonH Feb 1, 2016 / 12:01 pm

        The best bit about it is the six-minutes-per-hour-of-play rule so that would work, I think, at about 40 minutes for an ODI.

        The longest Clarke quote I can find so one can wallow in its full glory:

        “The ICC is delighted to partner with BBC Sport in the United Kingdom, which is widely respected and followed due to its ability and resources to produce high-quality cricket content.

        “As the United Kingdom will be host to three important ICC Events between 2017 and 2019, this deal confirms the ICC’s enthusiasm and commitment to take its events to all its fans irrespective of where they are in the United Kingdom and how they are following these tournaments.

        “I have no doubts that this partnership will take cricket coverage to a completely new level and will benefit both the ICC as well as the BBC, with cricket being the ultimate winner.”

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      • Arron Wright Feb 1, 2016 / 12:08 pm

        I don’t mean this in a literal sense, regarding predilections.

        But in the sense of being completely untouchable and utterly shameless, Giles Clarke has always put me in mind of this man:

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      • Benny Feb 1, 2016 / 3:13 pm

        Interesting to see what happens though. I saw a clip recently that said today’s youth watch stuff on ipads, phones etc more than on TV

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        • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 3:37 pm

          Yeah. They watch Netflix. I’ve got a couple of people in my office who say they don’t have TVs. They also don’t give two hoots about sport. So not a great example.

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    • Mark Feb 1, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      So……….

      They were wrong about Flower.
      They were wrong about Downton.
      They were wrong about Moores
      They were wrong about Cook as ODI captain
      They were wrong anout making the game invisible to the public.
      They were wrong about the big 3
      They were wrong about just about everything………

      Be nice if they were a bit more humble about it instead of trying to claim they are bloody geniuses.
      I love the way they blank out any of the big issues for months, and then run it as a headline when there is change. Talk about treating your readers as morons.

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      • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 1:11 pm

        Huge straw man argument online about the BBC rights being great news because they won’t be cutting into prime time schedules (which will be the only thing that satisfies “some people “.

        Modern media is different. I’m not daft. But this isn’t the England team, it’s the ICC and these rights aren’t worth much. There’s actually no reason why the ICC can’t do this themselves.

        It’s a start. But we have cricketinggifs already! This is not highlights, on TV, at a time they might be watched.

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      • Mark Feb 1, 2016 / 3:26 pm

        Sure it’s small beer. But the people who are making this sound a big deal are the same ones who said keeping all coverage behind a paywall was not a big issue,and we should get over it.

        They can’t get their stories straight.

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        • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 3:35 pm

          True. But also some are selling it as we should be grateful. As the best we can hope for. That’s twaddle.

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    • Nicholas Feb 1, 2016 / 7:07 pm

      Yep – these are online clip rights. TV highlights rights have yet to be tendered. But this is more than we have ever had before, so it is better than nothing. I’d expect TV highlights of the 2019 World Cup (probably on the BBC, now they’ve done this deal and have a foot in the door with the ICC) but no other tournaments. But, look, people like me who don’t subscribe to Sky previously had no access to ICC events. A 10 or 15 minute highlights edit of an ODI is better than nothing. A lot better than nothing.

      Good old Giles Clarke, though – the BBC are “widely respected” now, are they? Back in 2008, you said that they had misplaced priorities. Whenever the face fits, eh, Giles?!

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      • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 7:52 pm

        Nicholas,

        Yes. It is a decent step change for ICC competitions, and the scope of the coverage is not that clear. Yes it is better than nothing, but the ICC / BBC do need to up their game a bit when it comes to the provision of video clips. Hope this works.

        Your points on Clarke are valid of course.

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        • Nicholas Feb 1, 2016 / 10:52 pm

          Of course, Dmitri – I’d love to see proper FTA cricket coverage again, and have been fighting the good fight for years. But the realist in me likes to see any small victory we can, and this is undoubtedly a small victory for those of us FTA-ers. You’re right – the ICC definitely to sort themselves out when it comes to social media prominence etc. I think that BBC Sport do social media well these days, so *if* they are allowed to share these clips natively via Twitter and Facebook, we are onto a winner, I think, when it comes to a greater prominence of cricket clips across social media. Even if they can’t share them natively, the (distinctly) second-best option of them linking to their website is still better than not having the clips at all. I completely get where you are coming from, but I think that this deal is A Good Thing – but would love, love, love, to see far more movement towards FTA. Hang on, – is that a flying pig I can see in the distance…?!

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      • pktroll (@pktroll) Feb 1, 2016 / 3:09 pm

        With SA and Aus not voting for him I’d be majorly surprised if the rest of the non Big 3 ICC membership would happily vote for him. It just wouldn’t make sense.

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      • Benny Feb 1, 2016 / 3:16 pm

        Damn. Does this mean we’re stuck with him?

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      • Sherwick Feb 1, 2016 / 4:03 pm

        F***.

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    • Sherwick Feb 1, 2016 / 4:20 pm

      “The decision by Australia is a huge blow for Clarke for they were allies during the restructuring of the ICC two years ago which put more power and money in the hands of India, England and Australia.”

      One day, Clarke will get his just desserts.

      Like

  6. Ian Jones Feb 1, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Hi everyone,

    It’s been a very long time since I have commented anywhere on cricket for pretty much the same reasons that Dmitri listed for leaving football.

    I’m quite angry about the fact that cricket has driven me away. It has been a lifelong passion and I cared deeply for the game. It took a couple of years but I’m afraid I can no longer stomach it.

    The endless parade of meaningless two game test series.
    The endless parade of Aus. Eng Ind. series
    The endless lies about the integrity of the administrations in cricket. Integrity, Ha!
    The endless meaningless one day series
    The total mindlessness that is T20
    Aahgh! it’s endless

    The only thing that I miss about cricket are these blogs and the people who populate them. I miss their wit and sagacity, their knowledge and their honesty but that’s all I miss.

    I clicked on this story today just to see who was still around and it is capricious luck that the subject matter resonated so deeply with me that I have been inveigled to comment on any cricket related matter for many months.

    Damn you Dmitri.

    Ah well it’s nice to read something from you and to see some of the old crowd still carrying the torch. I can’t imagine that I will reacquire the passion for the game again but I’d like to say to all those that made the commentary of these pages and the TFT and the Graun so interesting thank you very much.

    Cheers,
    Ian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Feb 1, 2016 / 3:21 pm

      Thanks Ian for your kind words. Good to see you still around.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Feb 1, 2016 / 3:22 pm

      Good to hear from you and hope you are well Ian. Who is going to tell me off for having a go at Michael Clarke now?

      Yours is a great example of what happens if loyalty is pushed too far. If devotion is taken for granted and only to be monetised. The devotees may not be replaced. Until people open their eyes it will happen.

      Come back soon mate. We love a great moan here. It’s what I do!

      Liked by 1 person

    • northernlight71 Feb 1, 2016 / 6:27 pm

      You are much missed on several fronts, Ian. But I completely understand your disillusionment and your decision to try not to let any of it get to you any more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ianrsa Feb 1, 2016 / 9:25 pm

        Hey mate,

        good to see you. Yes I miss quite a few of the posters like yourself and it grieves me that I just can’t seem to muster an interest in the game any more.

        Like

    • Arron Wright Feb 1, 2016 / 9:27 pm

      IanRSA! It’s a toss-up between you and Fred66 as to who I miss more.

      I thought about you over the weekend, as I happened to re-read this shitheap just after its second anniversary.

      http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2014/jan/26/india-icc-proposal-ecb-cricket-australia

      The comments were good though. Alas, just as the sceptical voices have largely moved away, marginalised and weary, so it seems that new posters tend to follow the wctt model. That mainly consists of shouting down the long-standing, justifiably cynical posters and exhorting everyone to get behind the team and not be so beastly to you-know-who.

      The G is now a sort of halfway house between the West Cork remedial offenders institution, and a party where gatecrashers turn up to mock and scorn people who have been enjoying themselves all night. You’re better off out of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • ianrsa Feb 2, 2016 / 9:24 am

        Arron! Probably the voice I miss the most. I wish you commented on politics in the G. as I would see you there.

        I have just skimmed that article and the comments and what struck me was the way the racist card was one of the first go to defences for a couple of the Indian commenter’s. Pretty unsavoury.

        I got so tired of the G especially the comments because of the scarcity of sceptical and thinking commenter’s. In the end it became an echo chamber with the loudest voices dominating. No thought to reasoned argument or contrary positions just sniping and shouting down.

        I do miss the core group of thoughtful people, yourself, Fred66, Clive, Northern lights and the dozen or so others that made it worthwhile reading the comments there.

        I hope that you are well and if you ever contemplate a trip to the Dark Continent get in touch (Dmitri has my email) there is always a spare room and a bottle of wine here.

        Cheers,
        Ian.

        Like

      • Arron Wright Feb 4, 2016 / 11:12 pm

        Hello. Apologies for the delay in responding. That is awfully kind of you, thanks. Bit too much going on at the moment to contemplate exotic holidays, but I will always bear it in mind. Incidentally, I have never left my home continent – I have travelled no further north than Bergen, no further west than Lisbon, and no further south or east than Olympos and Cappadocia in Turkey, respectively. Doesn’t help that I’m s**t-scared of flying, I suppose!

        I hope we will hear more from you in the near future.

        Best wishes,
        Arron aka NOC

        Like

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