Travelling tittle-tattle, tall tales and shameless name-dropping by Jon ‘Don’t Call Me’ Norman

About Me

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Florist

I can't be the only person to have googled my own name. Surely everyone out there has found themselves alone at their terminal at work and has quickly typed in their name whilst furtively glancing around the office to make sure they aren't caught. Is there a Jon Norman Dot Com? Is there someone famous somewhere with the same name? Are they moaning about you again on an internet forum? I am so over that, honest!

I may have mentioned it in a previous post that there's a Jonathan Norman out there who was sent to prison after he was found guilty of planning to rape Steven Spielburg. Spookily there was also a John Norman whose love of cricket meant he recorded Garfield Sobers world famous six sixes in an over. And then there's me. The one who appears when you type in the words Jon Norman talkSPORT.

Several pages come up where my name is mentioned alongside my cricket reporting work. There's a couple of links to the talkSPORT unofficial page. There's even an interview with Steve Morgan, my former producer on Ian Wright's Drivetime Show where he jokily refers to me being his tea-boy. All of which I've seen in the past.

However the other day I had another look and found something quite unexpected. Something new that I hadn't come across before. Something very recent. Something by somebody I have known for a very long time.

It was a conversation on a lower league football clubs messageboard between four or five fans looking ahead to the weekend's game. A match to be reported on for talkSPORT by me. The game in question took place last month between Southend & Stockport County.


As my old Uni friend Manky Jon is a lifelong Stockport fan I thought I'd tap him for some info in the build up to the game. And he duly obliged with an indepth guide to the team's fortunes, the players to look out for and even included some useful info about the club. The kind of info only a true fan knows. Or pretends to.

....."Michael Rose is a skilful fullback who has the ability to score some rude free kicks. He is also a keen horticulturist and has a chain of local florists"......

All good stuff and I took all this on board and went to the game fully prepared for any eventuality. I was slightly concerned that my Southend knowledge was lacking somewhat. If needed how would it be possible to compare the off field business affairs of the home players with that of their northern opponents? But I looked forward to using a couple of the snippets I'd been handed.

As it was the situation where I could have mentioned Michael Rose's entrepreunereal skills failed to materialise and it proved to be a faily uneventful 1-1 draw. Indeed it's unlikely the game will ever warrant anything more than a couple of lines in an end of season review. And it had started to slip from my mind when I stumbled upon this Stockport messageboard.

I was smiling throughout until I read the final line.

2. I may have given him a little bit - just a little tiny bit - of misinformation to see if he'll use it. Stuff like Michael Rose is a keen horticulturalist and owns a string of florists...


Ha ha! Cheeky bastardo. It appears my trustworthy nature had been taken advantage of. Although thankfully I'd not made use of the falsehood it could so easily have happened. And with Manky Jon listening intently at work I could only imagine his reaction if I had done so. Payback my friend will be sweet.

But what to do about it? Part of me felt that I should actually be annoyed but most of me saw it in hilarious light. And I wracked my brains how I could get him back. I thought about pretending that my boss had picked me up on the fact and that I had been suspended. Then I thought about pretending a listener had written in to complain. But neither would work because Mank had listened to the game and knew I hadn't actually said it. So instead I emailed him this.

From: Jon Norman
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 5:07 PM
To: Jon Saunders

Hey mate, what was the name of the Stockport dude who owns a chain of florists? I've got a big bet with someone at work. But can't remember the name of the player.


There was no response until I got into the work the next day when this was waiting for me.


From: jonpsaunders@hotmail.comTo:
Subject: RE:
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2008 17:47:10

What, Michael Rose? I hope you didn't bet too much... it was actually a small bit of misinformation in order to mildly amuse myself and see if you'd read it out on air.


(you now think I'm a cock, don't you?)

Knowing Mank as I do (he is a cock) I was sure he'd been sweating on this a little bit. Unsure of my reaction. So I thought I'd try and drag it out a little more by pretending I'd not read his email properly.

From: jonno_norman@hotmail.comTo:
Subject: RE:
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2008 10:41:24 +0000

Michael Rose that's it. Cheers dude! In a dash. Will send you a (very small) percentage of my (£100!) winnings when I get them. Cheerio!

Fast forward a few hours and no reply. No text from Mank. Nothing. So I thought I'd add to the scenario with another follow up.
From: jonno_norman@hotmail.comTo:
Subject: RE
Date: Fri, 19 Dec 2008 12:01:24

Hey dude, just read your email properly. Are you serious? Were you joking with me? Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By now he was either beside himself with worry, desperately trying to get £100 together to pay my betting debt or just out at lunch without a care in the world and with complete disregard for my long winded attempt to get him back somewhat.

The weekend came and went with still no reply. What a pussweed. And so this morning I sent one more email over to him.

From: Jon Norman
Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 11:02 AM
To: Jon Saunders
Subject: RE:

Oi chieftain! Answer me! I know you're out there..............

and finally he replied.

Subject: Re: RE:
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2008 12:40:56 +0000


I suppose this makes me chief of the week, doesn't it?


Not quite the groveling apology I was expecting. Nor the teary plea begging for forgiveness. But it'll do. And as for whether it made him Chief of the week - which was a weekly competition we held in our house in our second year of University. The person who acted out of turn would have their crime written up and posted on the living room wall. Well yes, yes it does. Funny though it is. I'll be sure to watch out next time I cover a Stockport County match. And at the rate they're going this season that might be next season if they make back to The Championship.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Mark always delivers

It's 62 days until I arrive in Kingston, Jamaica. And despite the slightly unnerving fact that Kingston 'boasts' over 1,500 murders every year I'm looking forward to my third cricket tour.

The Windies Tour takes in four different countries and promises to be as far removed from the tranquility of Hamilton & Napier as, no doubt, from next winter's tour to South Africa. It's one of the benefits of following cricket that you take in such differing cultures.

However I'm not sure I'll make it over to South Africa next winter. Funds will have to be directed towards more mundane expenses. A house for instance. And then there's The Ashes Tour 2010 to plan for......

But for now my attention is firmly locked on the six weeks set to be spent in Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago. My old Barmy Army travelling partners Mark, Danny and Nathan will once again be reunited. Although for the first couple of Tests it'll just be me and Mark and if I needed any further reason to look forward to spending some time with my old buddy I found it yesterday when he sent a catch-up email detailing a mishap he suffered whilst on postman duty in Germany.

.....Had an accident at work last week and tripped over a sewage grid that was sticking out. was going downhill at a fast rate as well and my hands were full with post. injured both hands (nothing broke - thank god) but am a bit helpless. should be back at work on thursday. am still a clumsy dickhead eh?......

Yes, yes you are my friend. And I can't wait to see you in action in February.


Monday, 1 December 2008

Chuck the Pope?

I went to see a musical in Chelsea on Saturday called 'Steel Pier'. It was performed by the 3rd year under graduates at Mountview which is the University that Fe is studying her own MA in Musical Theatre. The standard was exceptionally high. I didn't realise it was an amateur performance until the intermission. And there was a couple of stunning performances. And a couple of dud ones.

Like most people, there's usually nothing I like better than to rip into an act, performance or opinion that I do not abide with. It's one of those things in life that enables me to feel better about myself at the expense of someone else. All dressed up in an intellectual bubble that adds to the self-loving. And I'm careful to make sure the person or persons I am referring to are far enough away not to hear.

It's like the scene in 'True Romance' when the character played by Christian Slater insists his 'date' for the evening accompany him to a diner to eat pie and dissect the film they'd just watched. For this is exactly what I wanted to do following the musical. Head to a bar on the Kings Road, bunker down with a bottle of wine and go through the likes and dislikes with Fe of what we'd just seen.

But this enjoyment was marred by something that had happened at work on the Friday. As I watched a couple of the lead characters completely fail to take centre stage I realised I couldn't help but feel sorry for them. Here were two people who'd put their heart and soul, time and effort into a performance that was stunningly underwhelming.

Before I would have wrung my hands in mock frustration at his lack of stage presence, tutted inwardly at her limited acting range, exaggerated a yawn at his lacklustre singing, and wondered aloud what the professional future holds for two actors at the end of training that seems to have got them nowhere near the finished article.

But instead I felt sad. Sad for them and sad for myself. For I know what it's like to be publicly criticised, slammed and written off as rubbish. I know how it feels to put yourself out there and have your work ridiculed. To put yourself in the public eye and be voted off. And it's not nice.

Over the past few months I've been hosting my own quiz on talkSPORT radio. It's no big deal. Just a ten minute segment on the 'H&J Show' on the station every Tuesday afternoon. Aside from this I've been sent out to conduct interviews with various sports bods. Andy Murray, Courtney Walsh, Shane Warne and the rest.

I'd never considered my work to be award winning but I thought of it as worthy of the show. It adds texture to the finished product, throws in new voices, and adds to the freshness of the show. But it appears there are those out there who disagree.

For talkSPORT has its own unofficial forum page where listeners post their views about the show.

For the most part it's all pretty negative stuff. Nobody seems to get away with having their character or ability condemned. Regular strand titles include 'name your worst five talkSPORT presenters', 'talkMISERY' or 'Danny Arsehole' where listeners slam the presenters. It's hardly high brow stuff and ultimately it leaves you wondering why they listen to a station they all seem to hate so much.

And on Friday my colleague Laurie alerted me to a new strand titled 'Chuck the Pope?' Which went like this.

Post subject: Chuck The Pope?

Nov 28th: 16:00


"The assistant producer on H&J who is given air time to do Pope Quiz and an audience with the Pope, both of which add nothing to the show. Is it because he is Hawksbee's mate?"

FatBoy MFC

"pope quiz is shit"


"Yes they build it up even with it's own music and he comes in and does a silly pointless quiz in an amateurish way, why? Is he Hawksbee's mate?"


"Is he a catholic? Do bears shit in the woods?"


"I think 'The Pope' is Jon Norman, a producer and, sometimes, a reporter at football and cricket."


"No quality control in general. Too much gets thru as another 5 minute filler which says to me that they struggle to do 5 days a week. "

Now I'm not going to go through everything that was said, point by point, in a bid to 'prove' them wrong. They're entitled to their opinion. And considering the level of hatred on this page it's no surprise my turn came round eventually. But it did provoke feelings in me that are difficult to deal with.

After a busy week I found myself relaxing at home and every now and again my mind would turn back to the comments on the page. I tried to brush them off but couldn't shake the angst that they'd created within me.

Speaking with a couple of colleagues at talkSPORT who'd experienced a similar thing it appears my reaction wasn't unusual. It's pretty unpleasant to have people you don't know agreeing that you are shit. Especially when you're still trying to make a name for yourself in the industry. But it made me realise that it's something that I'm just going to have to get used to. As will Fe who will be entering the public domain herself. Becoming prey to professional critics not just the amateur ones!

What is noticeable though is the way some presenters actively encourage such criticism. They appear to delight it. Some people in life have the need for a reaction, negative or otherwise, and when it's missing they do whatever they can to stir things up again.

Maybe this is the only way to deal with it. You can't let such comments affect your performance. You can't let it prevent you doing what you want to do. And I guess ultimately it gets to the point where it either defeats you or strengthens you. And maybe those that react with glee whenever something negative appears are the ones who've worked through this process and got the stage where they realise it doesn't matter what anyone thinks or says just as long as what they're thinking or saying. Is about you.