Friday, March 31, 2006

US Secretary of State Condi Rice recently disclosed that she gets up at 0430 in the morning to work out at the gym -- wherever she is in the world.

Don't worry, Condi, I doubt you'll encounter a queue at the Fitness First in Blackburn.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

This year's Sony Radio Award nominations have been announced tonight -- and I'm delighted to say that a number of programmes that I and my colleagues had a hand in have been nominated.

The winners will be announced on May 8th.
Oy vey! -- Reopening this posting, an Israeli rabbi is calling for DIY dolly amputation. (Thanks Lynn!)

Monday, March 27, 2006

An inspirational listen during my 8-mile run along the Thames Towpath yesterday -- the awesome Sarah Reinertsen on The Sports You Do Show.

Sarah is the first female above-knee amputee to complete an Ironman event.

Visit her official website here and her blog here.

Friday, March 24, 2006

My friends at MAG have launched a new fundraising campaign called
Give Landmines The Boot.

Dozens of celebs have donated an item of footwear to raise money for landmine clearance.

You can bid for Wayne Rooney's football boots or Alice Cooper's black leather thigh boots here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Just back from lunch with photographer Karena Perronet-Miller.

Karena's passion is dark, atmospheric work exploring broken minds and bodies.

My mind's pretty sound but as one of the wheels has fallen off my body she's interested in us working together.

Could be interesting.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's been up here on the blog for a while, but my article about action sports for people with disabilities has also finally been published on the BBC Sport website.

While enjoying a lunchtime pint with friends in Banbury over the weekend, the most to-die-for 12 week old black labrador puppy came in accompanied by his handler.

It turned out the pup was being trained by Dogs for the Disabled, which has its headquarters nearby.

According to their website, DFTD was set up in 1986 by an amputee, Frances Hay.

Regular readers will know that I hate the "disabled" tag.

If they'll give me a puppy, however, I'll be as disabled as they want me to be.
Garry Trudeau's BD is having a moral dilemma this week about what to do with the compensation he's received for his Iraq War amputation.

I had no such scruples.

A new house and a carbon fibre road bike were top of my shopping list when the money came through.

Also on compensatory matters -- please God let this story be a wind-up.

A former deputy head is suing Bristol City Council for £1m for being forced to sit in a chair that made farting noises every time she moved.

Because of injuries sustained in the course of duty I'm forced to wear a prosthetic leg that makes farting noises every time I move.

Can I have a million too, please?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The war in Iraq -- a success story, for amputees.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Jim Muir separates the facts from the spin over Operation Swarmer.
My old friend, the absurdly talented illustrator and set designer Janine Trott, has just taken on a new agent to represent her.

Check out her work here -- and then hire her for lots of money.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

It's strange to think that if/when I have kids they'll never have known me with two legs.

But they can come to terms with their daddy's missing limb with the help of the
Sew Able amputee doll.

Play with her! Change her clothes! Remove her prosthetic leg!

But at $120 for a grotesque piece of plastic, somehow I don't think I'll be bothering.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

She may not win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, but amputee swimmer Natalie Du Toit deserves massive respect for giving the two-legged athletes a run -- or rather, swim -- for their money.

Du Toit will be competing in both able-bodied and "disabled" categories at the Commonwealth Games.

Interestingly, unlike the Olympic movement -- which is currently holding the Winter Paralympic Games in Turin, the Commonwealths have opted for a fully integrated programme.

If nothing else, it should ensure a higher profile for disablity sport in Melbourne, as the EAD events will be taking place while all the media outlets are present -- not several weeks later when the vast majority of them have left.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Thanks to BitTorrent I've been dipping into Howard Stern's radio show on Sirius.

Am I missing something?

It's difficult to imagine a radio programme that could be more self-indulgent, unfunny and lacking in ideas and decent material.

Yet, unbelievably, Stern's endless jibbering is given its own dedicated channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.

First there's five straight hours of his stream-of-conscious musings live every morning.

Then there's a "wrap-up show" which picks over the dead bones of his carcass of a radio show.

Then the Stern "news team" spin the morning's ramblings into an hour-long lunchtime "bulletin."

Then the whole lot is replayed for 17 hours so listeners can tune in any time day or night and hear interviews with strippers, lame sound effects and the latest on Stern's boring personal vendettas. And for this he'll earn $500m over five years.

Stern has taken an entertaining format, stretched it way beyond breaking point -- and then stretched it even further. Whatever happened to leaving the audience wanting more?

Before long, if Stern takes a shit it'll have its own radio channel.

The FCC should look at fining Howard Stern again -- not because his show is indecent but because it's deeply, deeply unfunny.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Snowboarder Amy Purdy accelerates to 40mph as she carves down a slope, jockeying for position alongside her rival riders.

As she launches into a jump and flies into the air, the crowd below cheering Amy on has no inkling that she is attached to her board by two artificial legs.

The fact that Las Vegas-born Purdy, 26, is even alive -- let alone taking part in a snowboarding competition -- is something of a medical miracle.

Seven years ago Amy Purdy suffered multiple organ failure and massive haemorrhaging caused by bacterial meningitis. She spent more than three weeks in a coma, underwent more than 30 blood transfusions and lost both her legs below the knee.

Doctors put her chances of survival at less than two percent.

During the long months of recovery, Amy focused on a single goal -- getting back on her snowboard.

“The whole time I was in hospital all I wanted to do was to snowboard again but I didn’t really know how I was going to do it,” she says.

Purdy soon found that the prosthetic legs she used for walking weren’t suitable for snowboarding and began searching for alternatives.

“I e-mailed ski schools and prosthetics manufacturers but no-one seemed to know of any other adaptive snowboarders," she says.

“I just couldn’t believe I was the only person with prosthetic legs who wanted to snowboard.”

Amy Purdy eventually made contact with an informal network of amputee snowboarders with whom she was able to share tips and techniques. Within days of receiving a pair of specially designed prosthetic legs she was back on the slopes, taking part in a snowboarding competition.

Her experience highlighted the need for an organization dedicated to promoting extreme sports within the disabled community. Last year, along with her able-bodied partner Daniel Gale, she founded a non-profit organization, Adaptive Action Sports.

As well as organizing training camps and courses, AAS also provides grants to enable disabled athletes to buy adapted sports equipment.

AAS has already helped dozens of people with disabilities take part in a range of high-adrenaline sports, from skateboarding and surfing to mountaineering and kayaking.

Adaptive Action Sports is now preparing for its biggest showcase yet – the United States of America Snowboard Association National Championships at Truckee, California.

More than 1300 athletes will gather at Lake Tahoe in late March for the world’s largest snowboarding event.

A team of amputee riders have been invited along to show off their skills.

“Our main aim is to get out there, have some fun and show what adaptive athletes are capable of,” says Daniel Gale.

“Every day there’s a different competition and at the end of each day our riders will get to go out in front of hundreds of people and show what they’re about.”

As Purdy and her fellow athletes push the boundaries of disability sport, prosthetics manufacturers are rising to the technological challenge they have set.

“We gave a skateboarding demonstration at an industry convention and everyone realized what we’d achieved on our own, without any help from anyone” Purdy says.

“Prosthetics companies are finally starting to see the potential in what we’re doing.

One company in particular is trying to develop an artificial limb aimed towards action sports athletes.

“You could say we led the way – and now the rest of the world is trying to catch up!”
It's vast. It's comprehensive. It's The State of the News Media 2006.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reopening this posting, my prosthetic technician Andrew Palmer (pictured left) e-mails to say that amputee fell running does exist.

Andrew, who's an amputee and marathon runner, completed the gruelling Snowdon Race in 2002 in a time of 1:57:10.

Andrew writes "I ran it on my Modular III foot.

"It is quite firm and a good foot for cross country and multi-terrain.

Running 5 miles down a mountain on a Cheetah would be terrifying!"

Looks like I'll be needing yet another addition to my prosthetic collection.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Friday, March 03, 2006

I've just finished Richard Askwith's excellent Feet in the Clouds, a hugely readable journey through the world of fell running.

It set me wondering; there are amputee marathoners, sky divers and mountaineers -- so what about amputee fell runners?

A Google search failed to turn much up.

It's hardly surprising. I hate running on rough terrain because my prosthesis can't return energy from the ground so effectively and it's difficult to maintain a steady rhythm. Fell running with an artificial leg would be an absolute nightmare.

But my Google search did turn up some interesting information -- a California-based non-profit organisation called Adaptive Action Sports, which "creates and promotes opportunities for individuals with permanent physical disabilities to participate in action sports and the art and music scene that follows them."

I got in touch with AAS and got a commission to write a piece about them for BBC Sport Online.

You'll be able to read the finished article here first in about a week's time.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Take 14 over-ambitious, career-obsessed, shiny-arsed David Brent clones who wouldn't know an original idea if it came up and smacked them over the head.

Add ladles of razor-sharp editing.

Stir in a dash of fleeting reality TV "celebrity."

Result? The Apprentice.

I hate every single management consulting, sales managing, business lecturing, financial advising one of them.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

March 1st isn't just my birthday (and St David's Day, of course) -- it's also the anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty.
The Ministry of Defence has updated the so-called "Green Book" -- the document which outlines the protocol for journalists working alongside the British military.

Crucially, the latest edition recognises the issue of journalist safety -- making clear that "UK forces on operations will never deliberately target either individual correspondents or civil media facilities."

As the military seeks to impose tighter controls on journalists working in hostile environments, it's encouraging that the Green Book also now recognises the right of correspondents to move freely around war zones: "The MOD recognises that correspondents are free to look for information in the area of operations and to communicate it back to the public."

More here.

Of course, these guidelines apply only to the British military...