Dabbler Diary – Sabotage

Thank you for the kind messages; my sight is now fully restored after that unpleasant business. To continue the debate re the NHS and horrors or otherwise thereof, like everyone I’ve seen the good and bad side of that monolithic institution. The NHS safely and efficiently delivered my two daughters, so eternally grateful for that. And most of the staff you see – once you get to see them – are fine people. But my hours in the Eye Hospital and assorted other locations afforded me a glimpse of the terrors that might lie in wait when old age and decrepitude finally descend. Once you enter the ‘care’ of the NHS, you leave dignity, status, individuality at the door. Your time is not important, your work or family responsibilities are irrelevant – all must be at the convenience of the system. You are continually made aware that there are greater priorities to be dealt with before anyone can get to you. You are a statistic, a problem, a thing to be processed. What you are most certainly not is a valued customer. Well it is free I suppose, you tell yourself as you wait hour after hour in another tired brown room full of miserable inmates. Then you think about all the money the Revenue has extracted in monthly instalments from your pay packet, and wonder if you can still afford to go private.


Terrible news, the death of Sid Waddell, the best and loopiest of all sports commentators. “The pendulum is swinging back and forth like a metronome” is perhaps the most inarguable thing ever stated in relation to a game of darts. I wrote a tribute to him on The Dabbler here, and also donated it to the Sabotage Times, who recently revived it. Sadly, their version omits the italics that indicate the Waddell quotes, making it a bit of a pain to read.


The Sabotage Times is the organ of James Brown (no not that one, the one who invented Loaded mag and edited back in the days when it used to be readable.) Along with a small Dabbler representation I met up with him in Islington last year to explore possible mutually beneficial avenues. Nice chap, enthusiastic. We wanted to find out how he was able to run a blog as a full-time occupation; he wanted to flog us consultancy. Things got a bit awkward when we made it clear that The Dabbler had literally no money whatsoever to spend on consultancy. They got even more awkward when it came out that we had built and continue to maintain The Dabbler for approximately 0.001% of the amount of money JB had spent on The Sabotage Times, by utilising freelance techies from ex-Soviet countries and Asia on on hourly rates. Poor JB literally had his head in his hands when we told him about odesk.com. So The Dabbler is relatively cheap to run. But it doesn’t cost nothing. So if you love The Dabbler, why not support the site by joining the League of Dabblers – you get a glass and a certificate too.


Yesterday afternoon I was standing with my friend Jon in his back garden, watching our respective eldest daughters bouncing on a trampoline, and discussing how the Olympics could be improved. Jon had won the Olympic lottery – he got tickets for the athletics Super Saturday, when Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and the longjumper whose name, appallingly, I have already forgotten, won their unforgettable golds. Anyway we agreed that the key to it was not to have any sports for which the Olympics are not the pinnacle. Therefore, taking the introduction of rugby sevens rather than fifteens as the model, football should be replaced by 5-a-side, tennis replaced by squash and the forthcoming golf be scrapped in favour of the crazy form of the game. But with the top players doing it, so Tiger Woods would attempt to get it through the windmill for Team USA etc. “Surely trampolining should be an Olympic sport?” I said, as the girls boinged gleefully up and down. Jon assured me that it already is. Is it really? I didn’t spot it, and I watched (or listened) to a lot of the Olympics. Even the Greco-Roman wrestling, which was very funny and rather obscene.


In a previous Diary I mentioned the clean redbrick indoor/outdoor shopping arcades that are being added willy-nilly to Britain’s city centres and which always include a strict roster of chain restaurants: Nando’s (chicken), Café Rouge (frog), Coal (grill), Giraffe (god knows) et cetera. Now I should clarify that I’m not dissing these restaurants. Indeed, I love Nando’s dearly, and have a loyalty card which has already yielded me a delicious free quarter-chicken and set me well on the way to a half-. Add the luso beans and grilled halloumi on the side and a chap can enjoy a very tasty, low-carb lunch while waiting between business appointments and cathedral-viewings. I might even put together a Nando’s national rating system, like a Michelin guide. Do it on a spreadsheet, with marks for friendliness of service, rapidity of chicken-delivery and rubberiness of halloumi. I can tell you straight off that my favourite so far is on a leisure complex in Ealing (soothing and spacious) and the worst is in Enfield town centre. Enfield needs a good spruce-up, if you’re listening, Nando’s Head Office, and for goodness sake change the position of the counter, the ordering queue interferes dreadfully with one’s exit. That might be my last word on Nando’s in this Dabbler diary. Or there might be many, many more.


That last sentence puts me in mind of a good Steve Coogan gag I heard a few weeks ago, quite possibly on Steve Wright’s Radio 2 show. Apparently the Alan Partridge spoof autobiography concludes with an epilogue along these lines. “Thank you to everyone who has bought and read this book, and I’d like to point out that anyone who thinks that this epilogue has been added purely to meet a contractually-obligated minimum word count is very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very wrong.”

Dabbler Diary is brought to you by Glengoyne single malt whisky – the Dabbler’s choice.
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15 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary – Sabotage

  1. Worm
    August 20, 2012 at 09:38

    I think Nandos has miraculously hit on the holy grail of branding, being everything to all men. Posh people think it’s a marvellous source of low fat, carb free protein and it’s just posh enough to pretend to the kids that you’re at a restaurant, and at the same time the local street urchins think its a particularly tasty and cheap place to get their chicken fix. As a marketeer I bow to their awesomeness – and the chicken ain’t bad either..

  2. mauvais2@comcast.net'
    August 20, 2012 at 19:25

    Not thirty minutes ago, I walked by a Nando’s in Washington, DC. First I’ve seen; you’ve convinced me to give it a try.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 21, 2012 at 19:40

      Let us know how you get on.

  3. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    August 20, 2012 at 20:36

    The Dabbler for approximately 0.001% of the amount of money JB had spent on The Sabotage Times, by utilising freelance techies from ex-Soviet countries and Asia on on hourly rates. Poor JB literally had his head in his hands when we told him about odesk.com. So The Dabbler is relatively cheap to run. Dabblers, you have just moved into the No 1 slot, business acumen-wise, you have the con, keep yer costs down, cash is king, stay away from the parasites (lawyers) result, happiness.

    Or the exploitation of the downtrodden as the BBC, Guardian, C4 news would spin it.

    Edinburgh’s Nando’s is so far left of Princess street it’s a George Galloway short of an Assange.

    Morpeth’s King Edwards school is considering an evening of Sid Waddellism’s, if this becomes an annual event my granddaughter can become involved, in 2016.

    Did you know, the Dabbler glass makes 18 year old Macallan taste like 25 year old Macallan?


    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 21, 2012 at 19:45

      And it makes Famous Grouse taste like Glengoyne.

      • alasguinns@me.com'
        Hey Skipper
        August 23, 2012 at 21:22

        I am insulted.

        I can tell you from voluminous experience that the Dabbler glass makes Famous Grouse taste like Glenmahvelous.

        As for how that compares to Glengoyne, I can only reiterate my frustration at its unavailability in the colonies.

  4. alasguinns@me.com'
    Jeff Guinn
    August 20, 2012 at 22:02

    Thank you for the kind messages; my sight is now fully restored after that unpleasant business.

    Jeez, I’m away from the intartubez for a couple weeks, and everything goes straight to heck.

    Glad to hear you are on the mend, Brit; that must have been 27 kinds of real scary. At least.

    • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
      August 21, 2012 at 19:42

      It wasn’t much fun, no.

  5. Gaw
    August 21, 2012 at 09:37

    Nando’s is good for low carb partly because the portions of rice are the smallest I’ve ever seen. Personally, I would welcome a high carb option that didn’t require doubling up on sides.

    • Worm
      August 21, 2012 at 09:59

      ooh you are obviously a pro at this sort of thing. I dont think I’ve ever had any of the sides, half a chicken and i’m full

      • Gaw
        August 21, 2012 at 12:29

        A strapping lad like you?

        • Worm
          August 21, 2012 at 12:54

          might also be due to the unlimited fizzy drinks, I always go a bit mad making ‘spezi’, a mixture of coke and fanta

      • andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
        August 21, 2012 at 19:44

        I reckon I could easily eat 3 half-chickens = 1 1/2 chickens, if only I didn’t have any shame.

  6. mauvais2@comcast.net'
    August 23, 2012 at 20:11

    Nando’s provided me with a unique experience, an increasingly rare event as I enter my seventh decade: my first taste of chicken pemmican. Sorry guys, the American version of Nando’s would tip Gordon Ramsay into permanent apoplexy.

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