Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Knits on a scandal

Light posting for a few days as I'm soaking up the sun  dodging the showers in Northern France and watching the French news instead.

The oh-so-republican French dearly love a Royal story, so it's no surprise that their media have gone to town over the global coverage of the antics of Prince Harry. Le Figaro rather charmingly describes the Prince as being photographed 'en tenue d'Adam' - in the garb of Adam - and the general feeling here seems to be that it's all something of a storm in an English teacup 

Luckily for us, the genius behind Delit Maille is there to give the yarn her own particular twist...

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Another day, another syndrome...

This time, it's 'Psychogenic Abnormal Feeding Behaviour' complicated by 'excessive solicitation of interspecific interactions'.

But we won't be hearing counsel for the defence producing it in mitigation for juvenile misdemeanours or parental neglect any time soon; this affliction is, so far at least, confined to the feline species.
Cats that pester for food could be suffering from psychological condition.
 Cat owners see it as a sign of hunger and affection — their pet miaowing and rubbing against their ankles as dinner time approaches. But according to a group of vets, it is a sign of a creature whose obsession with food has driven it to the edge of insanity. 
Well I never! To think that all this time, advertisers have been shamelessly exploiting cats suffering from mental illness, from the tabbies 'making haste' for a well-known brand of biscuits to the immaculately-groomed Burmese shamelessly trading overt displays of affection in exchange for a small but perfectly-formed terrine.
According to the researchers, who set out their findings in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, other symptoms can include “food-related aggressiveness” — taking food from other cats’ bowls — and “context-specific excessive appetite” — jumping on the table to eat from the owner’s plate.
Now, I'm no expert - and I'd certainly welcome comments from cat-owners on this - but isn't that what you'd expect from what is, after all, a predatory mammal, unless it had been trained otherwise? Small wonder, then, that researchers found no physical reason for the behaviour and concluded the cause must be psychological.
They improved the cat’s behaviour by feeding and stroking it only at certain times of day, and ignoring it at other times.
Well that should have thoroughly confused the poor thing! But the whole thing really boils down to a bit of common sense: if you occasionally feed your cat from your plate, it will come to expect that pestering will bring a reward. It's not exactly rocket science but it's a principle some pet-owners presumably fail to grasp - and parents, for that matter.

Now, I can't claim to be an expert - the only cats I know well are nice-but-dim twins whose parents were brother and sister (owned by kindly but innocent God-fearing folk who were more than a little surprised and shocked to find a litter on their hands) and are possibly not the best examples of feline normality - but all this looks alarmingly like something we've seen at work with humans.

So will the traffic run the other way too, I wonder? Will some child psychologist pick this study up and run with it, slap on a snappy collection of initials and rush it into the armoury of the apologists for inadequate human parenting? Given the industry that has sprung up around ADHD and the way childhood obesity dominates the news, I'd say it's a dead cert.

Any bets on how long it is before Ambush Predator is quoting a mother's belligerent protest: "It's not my fault he weighs fourteen stone; he's got PAFB"?

Friday, 17 August 2012

Paradigm shift

You know how you look at something you've seen a thousand times before and suddenly it strikes you, out of the blue; "So that's what's going on here!"

And, after a moment's consideration; "How did we ever let things get this bad?"

It's just over fifty years since Kurt Vonnegut published his dystopian satire 'Harrison Bergeron'.
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. 
If you don't know it, please don't read on yet - go and look for yourself; it's not very long (the rest of you can carry straight on).
Now consider the sneakiest device at the disposal of the United States Handicapper General: 
And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.
and take a look at all the the teenagers - and people old enough to know better - walking around with headphones playing so loud that, even though the business-end is buried in the recesses of their ears, those  immediately next to them are treated to, in the delightful phrase of cartoonist Posy Simmons, "A faint noise rather like mice tap-dancing on a biscuit tin".

So intelligence-sapping are these devices that, as Bucko reports, a campaign has been launched to stop earphone-wearers ambling into the path of oncoming trains at level crossings. Researchers say headphones block out ambient noise; I'm more inclined - particularly since we've had the Urchin and his 'music' at home for some weeks now - to think that Vonnegut had it right and that being blasted with noise blocks out rational thought.

It seems ironic that, while we've been well aware of the attempts of various educational theorists to engineer a spurious equality among the young, they themselves have embraced a device that could have been expressly designed to impair their ability to reason.

Hold the front page!

Sometimes I think the offices of local newspapers must be filled with aspiring newshounds fervently hoping for some kind of grand disaster.

The Clacton gazette is certainly no exception, if this week's paper edition is anything to go by. When news came in of a roller-coaster accident on the town's pier, it must have seemed like journalistic manna from heaven, even though the reality was less than sensational:
All seven casualties were assessed by paramedics and did not require hospitalisation. A number of the casualties were shaken-up and a few suffered neck pains.
But why let the truth get in the way of a good headline? Ladies and gentlemen, from the people who brought you last year's sensational 'TODDLER INCHES AWAY FROM FALLING OFF PIER', it's....

Ah, bless!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Darwinism in action

No, it's not the hordes allegedly flocking to immerse themselves in the corrosively alkaline waters of a disused Derbyshire quarry (I wonder whether numbers have increased since the story hit the news), nor is it the paterfamilias insisting on his Yooman Right to walk with his children beneath an unstable cliff-face, but this edifying tale from yesterday's Guardian:
Hill walkers have been warned not to use smartphone apps to navigate in the Scottish mountains after the police had to rescue 16 people who got lost in the Cairngorms.
Now, I have to admit that, not owning a smartphone, I don't have much idea of their capabilities, but I can't imagine any circumstances in which I would be prepared to undertake a risky activity relying entirely on the say-so of a mobile phone, particularly given the difficulty of getting a signal in remote mountain areas.

There seems to be a lot of it about - the police say there have been four cases of this type since Friday, and, according to the deputy leader of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team:
"Last night alone, we were involved in two separate incidents, involving a total of 16 people, who had relied on smartphone apps to navigate on the high tops, were very poorly equipped for the conditions, and become lost." 
I've long despaired at teenagers who use their phone as a sort of external hard drive for their brains, a device to save them the trouble of ever having to commit anything to memory or, in some cases, bothering to think at all; though the ages aren't given (this being the Guardian), it seems that outsourcing intellectual function is even more widespread than I thought.

About the only thing the phones seem to have been useful for was calling in the emergency services when the walkers realised they were hopelessly lost - which is rather like Stephenson's new-fangled railway helpfully rushing William Huskisson to hospital after he was hit by the inaugural train.

One group of 14 walkers was eventually rescued in the early hours of Tuesday morning in an operation involving police, two mountain rescue teams and a Royal Navy helicopter. Fuel costs aside, that's an awful lot of people to be deprived of a night's sleep just because some twit thinks his smartphone's a better bet than a compass, a map and proper equipment.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic quote of the day - 6; closing ceremony

Blogger, I realise, is rather slow for this kind of thing, but as I don't do twitter here are some of my favourites, to be updated through the evening:

 Laurie Penny:
 If the Olympics is a giant party, the closing ceremony is everyone's embarrassing drunk uncle doing the hip-swivelly pointy-finger dance.

Giles Coren:
Ah, wait. I know what's going on. They've deliberately made it shit so the Spice Girls aren't nervous about coming on and ruining it.

Paul Stephenson, on Emeli Sande's second appearance:
This closing ceremony was brought to you by Emeli Sande's publicist.
(Too right; who does this Sande woman know? Once was bad enough!)

Giles Coren again:
It's like in the car when you're stuck on the motorway with only one cd, and round about Coventry you're back at the beginning of it...

Sue Perkins, as the white blocks are piled up:
Kate Bush Tetris Festival is underway

(Aaaaaaagh! Bohemian Rhapsody..... violated! By 'Imagine'! And little kids!)

Dave Steele:
Wait no! Everybody stop. This is the exact ritual required to bring back Tony Blair! We've been tricked! Ruuuuuun! 

(Giant billboards? Kate Moss? Don't tell me this whole thing has just been a giant advert for all the designer outlets in that new shopping centre down the road in Stratford!)

And JuliaM, with what may be the Leitmotif of the evening:
Jeeeeeesus! Need....more....WHISKY
(You and me both, Julia! )

Oh no - Boris and Dave grooving along to the Spice Girls. Right; that's it - I'm off to find some mind bleach and bed! I'm too tired to stick around for the scouring of the Shire.

And best tweet of the evening? Surely it's got to be this exchange:

What are the odds on Liam being stoned?

The audience'd happily do it.Would supply their own stones too...

Quote of the day - the Mail does its bit for marital harmony

The Mail reports today that families are taking their children to swim in a disused quarry in Derbyshire even though signs warn that the water has a potentially irritating pH of 11.3 and contains 'dead animals, excrement, car wrecks and rubbish', a phrase in which you can almost hear the steel guitars...

"Day-ud animals, excrement, car-wrecks and rubbish
Are all I have left to remind me of you-oo"

The reporter - with rather unseemly journalistic relish - describes a mother watching approvingly and taking photos as her young children swim in this 'toxic soup'. Then he moves on to another group with three young boys, all of whom can be clearly seen playing in the water in the accompanying photos.

I hope the Mail's reporter is prepared for the consequences, since he gives verbatim this charming summing-up of 21st-century parenting from the father of one of them:
'I don't care about the boys going in the water but if my f****** wife sees pictures of my boy in the paper I'll be trouble. [sic]' 

(Update, the quote has since disappeared from the article, though the pictures of the boys are still there. Meanwhile, for more details of this salubrious location and its discerning visitors, see Leg-Iron's excellent post on the subject).

Saturday, 11 August 2012

'Underclass arithmetic'

Without wishing to comment on current news stories - except to say that it seems to me the height of folly for online newspapers to give copious amounts of detail about the family of a missing person and then allow speculative comments from readers - I have a genuine question.

The inclusion of the ages of the people involved in legal cases, a standard feature of local papers and the grubbier end of the national press, allows the reader to spot some noticeably recurring patterns which give considerable food for thought.

The vast majority of recent criminal cases involving the lowest socio-economic groups (a difficult one to phrase, that - I can see the Urchin hovering, ready to blow his 'elitist whistle'; good job he hasn't seen the title yet), can be seen, with the use of some simple arithmetic, to involve at least one of the following:
  • a mother whose first child was conceived before she reached the age of 18 (or, in some cases, 16)
  • a man who, in his late thirties or forties, fathered a child with a woman under 20
  • a woman in her late thirties or forties living with a man at least ten years younger than she is
Now, what I should like to know is whether this is an accurate reflection of society as a whole, and if not, what causal factors are at work.

The mean age for first-time mothers in the UK is currently 29, yet the majority of criminal cases feature, directly or tangentially, a woman less than nineteen years older than her eldest child; does this mean that the chances of a teenage mother or her children being involved in a crime at some stage - as either perpetrator or victim -  are significantly higher than for the rest of the population?

And while we're familiar with the stereotype of a teenage pregnancy where both parents are barely out of childhood themselves, what attracts teenage girls to much older men? For a recent example, take the offensive tweets to Tom Daley; their author was the product of a liaison between a girl in her mid teens and a man in his forties.

That's an extreme example, admittedly, but there are plenty of cases where a quick calculation implies a woman under 20 moving in with a man over twice her age - or two women, in the case of the house fire in Derby. Why do these girls move on from relationships with their peers to live with men as old as their fathers?

It's not easy to imagine a social context in which a full-time mother barely past school age could build an equitable and stable relationship with a man so much older, though another feature of many criminal cases - and late-night road accidents - involving young mothers is the freedom given by relatives taking care of the child for extended periods.

Given that some of the youngest child-mothers, at least as portrayed in the press, display a startlingly casual attitude to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, could these relationships be initially founded on the supply of one or more of these commodities? (In the context of court cases, it's worth considering here that maternal drug and alcohol abuse have been repeatedly linked with behavioural disorders in young people.)

Or is it a case of access to housing? In such cases, where the detail is given, it is almost always the man who is the householder, while the opposite seems to be true in the cases where an older woman is living with a younger man.

I appreciate that all this only seems odd through 21st-century Western eyes - up until the beginning of the last century, none of these situations would have seemed particularly unusual. However, with the changing role of women in society, freely available birth control and the higher expectations of compatibility and equality within a relationship, it seems odd that they persist.

Since much of our society now regards as normal a married or cohabiting couple of similar ages with interests in common, I wonder whether the controlling factor here is the benefits system, which allocates housing and financial support in ways that may well encourage certain types of behaviour.
There seems to be a life-cycle emerging from the statistics; a teenage girl goes out with boys her own age until she gets pregnant. Then as a single mother, she hooks up with a string of older men until, often because she now has a large number of children, she gets her own house and finds a younger partner to move in with her.

Meanwhile, her eldest daughters are already beginning the whole cycle again and her adult sons - well, they seem to be left out of the picture completely, liable for child support if they work, doomed to a life of benefits if they don't and, in any case, unable to provide suitable homes for potential partners so they can't settle down. 

So they hang around, battening onto a succession of single mothers on benefits or minimum wage in state housing until they, in their turn, get places of their own and become dominant males - it's pure Desmond Morris. It's not a situation that is going to bring out the best in anyone, let alone a young man with too much time and testosterone on his hands.

Perhaps, thinking about it, that's the answer to why families like this, however unrepresentative of the population as a whole, seem to make up the bulk of cases in Britain's criminal courts.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

"I coulda been a contender..."

The issue of school sports just won't go away. Today has brought two particularly interesting posts; Longrider wants to keep school sport free of government regulation while, over at Orphans of Liberty, James Higham has come over all mens sana in corpore sano.

The comments at OoL have been fascinating; for years I thought I was alone in my opinion of organised team games at school but I now see that there must have been many of us indulging in individual acts of rebellion and subversion in the face of an implacable enemy. If only we had been able to join forces!

My own school was an example of just how much can be done in the name of sport to alienate those who don't toe the team games touchline. I arrived at the age of ten, an active child used to walking long distances (this was before the two-car household became the norm) and keen on swimming and ice-skating, these being effectively the only sports on offer to the public in our area.

That being so, there was no reason to suppose I would not enjoy sport and, given opportunity and encouragement, do well at it. And then I met my nemesis; the games teacher. Let us call her Miss Fortune; it's close enough to the original.

Miss Fortune's stated aim was to "bring the bright children down a peg or two" in the interests of sticking up for the academic underdog - as a former pupil with distinctly mediocre qualifications who had come back to her old school to teach, she clearly felt she had scores to settle and did so with a vengeance.

The school wasn't top notch by any definition, though I am profoundly grateful for the academic and social education it gave me, and I think it's fair to say that even in an ideal world, none of us would have been troubling the Olympic team selectors, but Miss Fortune certainly did her bit to make sport as unattractive as possible.

Longrider describes how his success in other sports "counted for nothing at a school so deeply unimaginative that if the sport didn’t involve two teams squabbling over a ball on a muddy pitch, it didn’t exist." Miss Fortune suffered from a similar lack of imagination; her mind ran on a single rotating track of hockey, netball and athletics (and swimming on Thursdays - yes, she has appeared here before).

It also ran to a pre-arranged agenda; she chose, or perhaps I should say anointed, those who were destined to succeed at games and the rest of us were relegated to also-ran status - quite literally, on occasion; the results posted after the annual sports day frequently bore little resemblance to the participants' recollection of events.

Looking back now, I see that she had very limited expertise and must have lived in fear of being required to do something beyond it. Take gymnastics, for instance; the school had a well-equipped gym but we were never allowed to lay a finger on any of the apparatus, to the intense frustration of those of us who repeatedly asked to be taught to use it.

For the eight years I was there, it all gathered dust, completely untouched, except for the single occasion when we were, for some long-forgotten reason, required to dance round the vaulting horse (some of us fervently wishing that it could be set alight with Miss Fortune inside; years later, 'The Wicker Man' seemed uncannily familiar).

It's not as if I was devoid of any sporting ability. Miss Fortune's dislike of me meant that I had almost invariably incurred a punishment by the time we reached the sports field; as her default punishment was a three-mile cross-country run in difficult terrain, I usually managed to stay out of her vicinity until the end of the lesson - and, to her evident chagrin, ended up as a half-decent runner as well.

In fact, I proceeded to beat one of her Chosen in the 4,000 metres on sports day - though it never appeared on the results board; Miss Fortune, visiting the changing room afterwards, disqualified me for wearing the wrong coloured underwear.

All of this, besides getting some major baggage off my chest (thank you for listening!), is a long-winded way of saying that, however well-meaning the regulations or requirements, people like Miss Fortune do exist, and that no school aside from a small elite is going to have the staff or facilities to accommodate all possible types of sport without unrealistic financial investment.

That being so, it would surely be better to leave proper sports coaching and provision to outside clubs - nothing to stop them coming into schools as guests, of course - and allow schools to choose the level and type of physical activity on offer to suit the location, expertise of staff and interests of the parents.

James Higham makes a good point about activity being necessary - not too long ago, of course, children walked to school - but this does not mean they should be subjected to all the horror of team games.

Remember, if history is always written by the winners, team games are almost always taught - and advocated - by those who succeeded at them.

(Given the above, it is with a certain amount of wry amusement that I discovered that, according to the BBC's completely pointless 'which Olympic sport best matches your physique' gadget , I am exactly the same height and weight as a member of the British women's gymnastics team - a shame it's several decades too late!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A bright spark

It's a while since we've had a Darwin Award hopeful here, but this week brings us news of a man from Blackburn who shows promising talent in that direction:
Mechanic Stephen Parsonage was getting ready for a night out on Sunday when his hair caught fire.
Sounds interesting...
He said: “I had just finished hairspraying my hair and decided to have a quick cigarette. As I lit the fag there was a whoosh and the next thing I knew my head was on fire."
It is not really a fit subject for amusement, of course; the man is clearly in pain - although not that much pain, apparently:
“I went to A&E and everyone in the waiting room was laughing at me, so I discharged myself. I am really embarrassed."
You would have thought a man who uses hairspray on a short-back-and-sides would be immune to embarrassment, wouldn't you? Anyway, it's not as if it's never happened before.

But the 26-year-old father-of-4 (yes, it looks as if those priceless genes have already been passed on) is clear about where the blame lies:
“I had no idea that could even happen. Surely, retailers shouldn’t be able to sell hairspray if this can happen."
Expect calls for a mass public awareness campaign any day now.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Olympic quote of the day - 5

Spotted by the Telegraph's Michael Deacon, from the BBC's interview with the father of British gymnast and eventual bronze medal winner Beth Tweddle during coverage of the women's asymetric bars final:
Q: “Mr Tweddle, tell us what you’ve been going through this week.” 
 A: “I’ve been laying a patio.”
Well done that man!

I wouldn't want you to think I'm against any emotional involvement in sport - in fact, my favourite television moment of the Games so far is the candid shot of Denise Lewis - so composed and calm on camera a few minutes earlier -  leaping up and down with excitement as she watched the athletics from the BBC's studio window.

Those trackside interviews, though, are another matter -  "How tough was it for you?" "How did you feel when...?"  - with innermost feelings paraded for the delectation and vicarious pleasure of viewers, giving the coverage a horribly voyeuristic quality.

And how can we fully share the victor's elation - as the BBC's triumphalist presentation invites us to do, emotive music and all - when it has come at the expense of all the other competitors? Every time we watch someone win, we've seen at least one other person lose.

I appreciate that I am not entering fully into the spirit of things, but, while I can understand the exuberance of some of the interviewees, we at the Tavern salute Mr Tweddle for reminding us that hyperbole and 'sharing' should always be optional.

Mr Tweddle, toast of the week, your very good health!

Friday, 3 August 2012

All that rugby puts hairs on your chest...

...What chance have you got against a tie and a crest?

An unlikely source, this week, for complaints that too many of Britain's Olympic medals were won on the playing fields of Eton and other independent schools.
Too many of Britain's top sportsmen and women were educated privately, the country's Olympic chief has said. Lord Moynihan said it was wholly unacceptable that more than 50% of medallists at the Beijing Olympics came from independent schools. 
That would, of course, be Colin Moynihan, 4th Baron Moynihan, Olympic silver medal-winning cox and alumnus of the distinctly independent Monmouth School, where 'rowing is a available as a Games option [...] and crews compete at events including Henley Royal Regatta.'

Not quite your bog-standard comp then, Colin? Of course, when you had sporting greatness thrust upon you thirty years ago it may well have been simply due to the fact that your school had specialised in a sport then almost unknown outside the independent sector at that level, but can you really apply that to everyone else?

It helps his cause considerably that some of the early medals are in sports where money is a huge advantage (for example equestrianism, conducted on an animal which, at that level, costs a small fortune to buy and maintain) but is the success a product of the school or simply of parental income, a correlation that says people with that kind of money at their disposal will almost certainly choose private education?

Well-off parents can afford to travel to events and buy equipment; they can support and house their grown-up children for the years of intensive training it can take to achieve international success. Even those succeeding in more 'democratic' sports almost always tell tales of parents willing to get up at the crack of dawn and drive for miles to training sessions or competitions.

All this has little to do with what happens in school and far more to do with parental priorities and geographical accident - how much open-water sailing can you get in the centre of Birmingham? What chance of starting gymnastics at 4 years old when the nearest coach is  more than 50 miles away? And, crucially, how many parents of talented children dig deep to find school fees, however great the sacrifice, or enter them for the many sports scholarships on offer?

If all independent schools were abolished, we might well still be seeing the same faces on the podium, and the ideologues would have to turn their attention to the matter of household income and level of parental support -  is it unfair that some children have parents able and willing to invest time and money in their sporting careers while others do not?

And should the state be expected to step in to redress the balance? It appears that the independent sector is merely providing a useful whipping-boy for something that looks suspiciously like social engineering.

The Quiet Man sums it up at Orphans of Liberty in a post pertinently titled 'The Politics of Envy', which, together with the comments, tackles the issue far more comprehensively that I ever could.

*Update; looks like The Guardian's CiF  is heading that way already (h/t JuliaM who handles the subject with her customary panache)

(For fans of The Jam, here's the full version)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Olympic quote of the day - 4

"There's alcohol, there are ladies - it's all good. My wife was supposed to come but unfortunately she's had to go to a hen do, so I've brought my friend along and he's quite pleased."
(A spectator at the women's beach volleyball, as quoted by the BBC)
Ah yes, beach volleyball. Babes in  bikinis. Carry On up the Horse Guards Parade. It's the standing schoolboy joke of the Olympics, from Boris Johnson's 'wet otters' to the use of Benny Hill's theme music - which basically says "we all know why you're here, and sport has very little to do with it".

It's a thoroughly incongruous situation; here is an Olympic event, trailing clouds of classical glory by association, where the high-flown phraseology of the sport's Olympic guidelines carries a distinctly dubious message.

Take, for example, the requirements for Athens, that most classical of Olympic venues. While the men's uniform followed a basic singlet-and-shorts pattern, merely stating it should be close-fitting and not baggy, the women's kit was described in meticulous and heavy-breathing detail:
'The top must fit closely to the body and the design must be with deep cutaway armholes on the back, upper chest and stomach.[...] The briefs should be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg. The side width must be maximum 7 cm.'
It's interesting to note that the dress guidelines for the sport in general are far less draconian, requiring merely that participants wear 'shorts or a bathing suit'. It's only when the Olympic committees get involved that the real nit-picking starts - though it's hard to see exactly how the aims of  'Faster, Higher, Stronger' are served by officially ensuring that women are exposing their 'upper chests' and a sufficient amount of thigh.

Formed, no doubt, by the demands of television coverage, this bizarre fusion of formality and exploitation characterises the hypocrisy that underlies much of the Olympic 'ideal' - that same hypocrisy that sees fat cats living it up in the name of inclusivity and brotherhood while drawing aside the hem of their collective garment from the masses at every opportunity.

If the use of the Benny Hill theme is an acknowledgement of the real priorities of the spectators, perhaps this aspect too should be enshrined in Olympic ritual:

"Good morning, and welcome to Horse Guards Parade for the final of the women's beach volleyball....and now we can see Lord Coe passing the official binoculars to Jacques Rogge in preparation for the Ceremonial Ogle, this taking place, of course, just before the two of them exchange the traditional "Phworrr!"..."