Happy New Year! Happy 2023!

I’m wishing all of you, and those dear to you, the best for 2023. May this year bring you all happiness, peace of mind, success in your endeavours, and fulfilment.

Also “Happy birthday!” to Snooker Scene.

Clive Everton started it all on January 1, 1971. Last year we almost lost it… but thanks to Nick Metcalfe the magazine lives on and celebrates its 52d birthday today!

And, finally, my “wish list” for 2023 in snooker …

  • A prompt and fair resolution of the match fixing affairs that are currently tarnishing or sport. Culprits must be punished, but more importantly, stronger prevention measures should be put into place to avoid a repetition of this situation in the future. Maybe WPBSA could work more closely with the academies on this aspect? Maybe a specific “help group”, or “help line” involving Chinese and Thai speakers? Players need to feel safe to report any issue they become aware of.
  • More events played under a tiered system, provided that the qualifiers are played right before and at or close to the location of the main event.
  • For those events played under a “flat draw”, no qualifiers. Everyone at the main venue. Put enough tables in operation AND enough practice tables too.
  • Could WPBSA work with other bodies involved in snooker – yes, IBSF too – at all levels to consider the feasibility of a, potentially ELO based, rating system that would be inclusive to professionals and amateurs? Yes I know, I’m dreaming, but, as Lewis has explained on multiple occasions, that would allow to organise events for specific groups of players, without “distorting” the rating system. The current ranking system is too rigid by many aspects.
  • A World title number 8 for Ronnie at 47 … because … well he won’t be playing at 147, won’t he?

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah

Today, 25th of December, most Christians celebrate Christmas, although part of the Orthodox community will celebrate it on the 6th of January. This year, the Jewish community also celebrates Hanukkah, from the 18th of December to the 26th of December. And, of course, many non-believers celebrate too because it’s an opportunity to meet family and friends, to share a meal, to have a drink or just to enjoy some good time with people we love.

I explained yesterday that I’m alone on my island at the moment and yesterday evening I decided to just have a walk around the village with my camera. There are very few people around this time of the year. Only one “taverna” was open, and the bakery. Although we have at least a dozen churches in the village, there was no midnight mass. I met countless cats but no human except at the bakery, where Koula, who runs it with Manolis, her husband, knowing that my family is away, invited me for lunch today. We have known Koula and Manolis for nearly 20 years. Their children, and mine, were kids at the time, today I shared the Christmas meal with the whole family, from “Thia Theoni”, Koulas’s mother and the “auntie” for everyone in the village, to her whole tribe of grand-children. I counted 10 of them. That’s how life is still lived here and long may it last. Eucharisto Koula 💖

Anyway… here are the pictures taken yesterday night, No flash, no tripod. Just what caught my eye on the moment and a rare “selfie”

Happy celebrations everyone, enjoy and cherish those moments !

Farewell to a Queen

Queen Elisabeth II died peacefully in her Balmoral residence yesterday afternoon. She was 96 tears old. She was a queen before I was born … and I’m a grand mother. Immediately, all over the Internet, respects were paid, tributes were written, and pictures were shared. Most of those images showed her, smiling, wearing her crown with pride… the only one that was in my mind, was of her, petite, frail, all dressed in black, wearing a mask, alone, mourning her husband, the man she had loved since she was 13. Alone, following the rules while those who set those rules were partying in Downing street. Those were the same people who were now flooding social media with tributes. It angered me beyond words. It saddened me beyond words.

Of course, there were also many thousand of sincere tributes, notably from snooker players, including Ronnie.

Tributes and token of respect came from all over the world. The flags were taken at half mast in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK people and shared their sorrow.

Rest in peace Elisabeth Windsor, Queen, mother, grand-mother, grand-grand-mother … a formidable woman in a male dominated world, a unifying force in a profoundly divided country, a beacon of dignity in the face of a deeply corrupted political class. I hope you are now reunited with your love.

Snooker players away from the baize…

Peter Devlin hasn’t really enjoyed much glory on the main tour so far, but was given a great opportunity to show … his showman side whilst helping WST to promote the coming English Open

Here is what he posted on his facebook page today:

Had a brilliant day as the guest at Milton Keynes Dons Stadium MK
Did a few interviews, and performed a rap live in front of just under 10,000 football fans. Standard 😂😂
Massive thanks to World Snooker Tour for giving me this opportunity to help promote the upcoming English Open, and the Snooker Tour in general 😁
Also met John Motson, and was a bit starstruck hearing his standout commentary voice in real life!

Asked by a friend if he enjoyed it, he replied:

(It) was awesome mate! I wish I could have that kind of confidence at snooker! Literally no nerves whatsoever doing that in front of thousands. But put a cue in my hand and different story 😂

Ronnie supports a terminally ill artist and is full of admiration for the positive way he deals with the situation

An award-winning artist is selling his work for charity after being diagnosed with brain cancer and given only months to live.

Antonio Russo from Bovingdon, AKA Stony, who went from being a street graffiti artist to winning global art prizes, is raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

The father-of-two, who was diagnosed in 2019, has been producing work with inspirational messages throughout his career and they have been bringing hope to people with cancer.

Snooker star and art lover Ronnie O’Sullivan has become a close friend after buying one of his canvasses.

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Ronnie O’Sullivan and Antonio Russo

Mr O’Sullivan said: “He is a great friend to me. When I met him I thought ‘I really like this guy’ – he has a lovely way about him.

We stayed in, starting talking, eating and watching Formula 1.

Now I know his family – his daughter and son. We also come from neighbouring villages in Italy so we share that culture, so there was an Italian connection too.

I love his art. Antonio has his own unique way as an artist and I think it is fantastic.”

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Ronnie O’Sullivan with Stony’s canvass

Mr Russo, 56, said: “I’ve been involved in art and music all my life and have been fortunate to travel the world and work with some amazing people.

I stay positive despite my diagnosis and it is fantastic that my work inspires people and helps them through tough times.

In January he was given six to nine months to live but has been on a clinical trial drug which he says he draws great strength from.

My cancer is terminal but I’m the biggest survivor in the world,” he added.

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Artist Antonio Russo

Mr Russo continued: “Ronnie is a fantastic guy and a good buddy, and he’s also really knowledgeable about art.

I’ve got work in big galleries and have lots of high-profile clients but the most important thing for me is that my work touches people and helps them.

Mr Russo was born in Luton but moved to Sicily as a baby before returning with his family to the UK when he was 12.

He had been drawing and painting since he was three years old and was drawn to street art as a teenager.

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Artwork by Stony

He added: “Graffiti was a way of expressing myself and I joined a community of street artists who were just dedicated to their art.

They were artists, not taggers who just went around painting their names or one design – I was always creative and colourful and it was about expressing myself through art.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “The illness is so bloody sad but he is so positive – he has a great spirit about him.

He never gives in – he always believes there is something better around the corner.

 

 

Ronnie at the races & Willo’s views

Last week-end Ronnie went to support the Venturi at the races in London.

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He, and Nicolas Hamilton, were there as a ROKIT embassadors. Ronnie even had the honor/pleasure to take Toto Wolf’s seat in the safety car for the hot lap.

By all accounts, he totally enjoyed the experience.

He shared some images on his social media

And a short video of the hot lap

During the same week-end Mark Williams reacted to WST announcement that Ronnie has withdrawn from the 2021 British Open with this:

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It says it all about how the top players who started in the 90th, and are still at the top, feel about the current trends in snooker. It’s increasingly about shortening formats and being lucky. Making the sport more random will suit the bookies and excite the gamblers but not the true snooker fans. It will not help the sport in the long term, quite the opposite.

Even the young players with a brain see it: the excellent Davild Caulfield has been talking to Peter Devlin. Please do read the full interwiew, it’s very interesting.

This is only a very short excerpt with Peter’s quotes relevant to the above:

“I’ve seen the rankings and learned a lot about how it works this year in the rankings – consistency is not rewarded,” says the world number 114.

“The only reward is for deep runs in tournaments, and not all tournaments that you have deep runs in give you any reward. My goal is just to be lucky.”

“I know I’m good enough to have deep runs, but it just has to be the right tournament. Stuart Carrington got to the semi-final of Gibraltar, beating five top players on the way, and he won £6,000 for that.

“Then another player drew Anthony Hamilton in the UK Championship – Anthony had COVID – so the other guy got a walkover and got £6,500. What does that say?

 

When Ronnie gets scary … it turns nasty.

I stumbled upon this one… 

Anger as Ronnie O’Sullivan snooker scarecrow display trashed by vandals in Somerset village

The targeted attack has been branded “a disgusting act”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Residents of a Somerset village have been left horrified and disgusted after a life-size scarecrow of snooker sporting legend Ronnie O’Sullivan was vandalised in a front garden.

The rocket flames attached to the end of Ronnie’s cue were ripped off and vandals attempted to remove the scarecrow from the seat which he had been tied to.

The culprits then upturned a snooker table which had been placed beside the record-breaking snooker champ leaving the scene in disarray.

The annual scarecrow competition, run by the local community chose a sporting theme this year and were inundated with entries which now form an entertaining display in front gardens around the village.

However, mindless vandals went to several gardens overnight and trashed some of the displays leaving the owners angry.

Ronnie had been lovingly made by Milborne Port resident Mandy Chaffey along with the help of her husband Colin and 22-year-old son William who idolises the sporting hero (named The Rocket due to his style of playing).

Made in true Worzel Gummidge style, they spent hours stuffing pairs of tights with straw, making his outfit and laying out a snooker table display complete with coloured balls.

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The scarecrow display was trashed by vandals

She said that as soon as the competition organisers told villagers the scarecrows had to follow a sporting theme there was no question who they were going to make.

“My son is snooker mad and loves “Rocket Ronnie” and it was a joint effort between the three of us,” she said.

“When we opened our door that morning the display had been attacked and they ripped off the rocket flames we had put on the end of his cue and threw it on the ground.

“They then tried to removed Ronnie from his chair, but he was tied too tightly and ended up just lying there in a dishevelled heap.

“They then pushed the table right over which had a set of snooker balls glued onto it, and it narrowly missed hitting my son’s car that was parked in the driveway.

“Whoever did this just didn’t think, and it was a disgusting act.

“This is a community competition which we all put a lot of effort into doing and they obviously just ‘don’t get it.

“They also targeted a tennis player scarecrow in somebody else’s front garden, ripping off its arm and stealing the ball.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Mrs Chaffey said that the actions of the vandals would not destroy their spirit and said they had managed to patch Ronnie up and return him to his former glory, however his rocket flames remain missing.

“It is a wonderful thing to do for our village, just to see the joy on everyone’s faces when they see the scarecrows is fantastic, even the recycling men have a laugh at them,” she added.

🙃 😎  …

A bit of light stuff with Laila and Ronnie

Laila Rouass makes her return on UK television in the Holby City series and, of course, the media have been at it, but not in a bad way.

Laila and Ronnie have been on Sunday Kitchen last week-end … if you wondered why he wasn’t in the ES studio at the Shoot Out here is your answer…

‘When he winds me up’ Laila Rouass jibes at Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday Kitchen

LAILA ROUASS jokingly mocked partner Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday Kitchen today as she revealed the food she cooks for the world snooker champion when he “winds her up”.

Saturday Kitchen: Laila Rouass on cooking aubergine for Ronnie

Saturday Kitchen’s Matt Tebbutt welcomed actress Laila Rouass and world snooker champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan, on the BBC cooking show this morning. In the usual fashion, the chef asked the guests what their food heaven and hell were but was taken aback when the actress joked she rustles up Ronnie’s least favourite food when the couple clash.

Matt introduced: “Morning guys, we’ve got a couple of guests today actress Laila Rouass and world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“You’ve both done the show independently before now we’re doing things slightly different today.

“[Laila’s] food heaven is [Ronnie’s] food hell and visa versa, is that right?”

Revealing her food heaven, the actress said: “My food heaven oh god what was it? I can’t remember. Aubergine and coriander.

Read more: Ronnie O’Sullivan’s diet to lose weight and ‘feel 100 percent’

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Saturday Kitchen: Laila Rouass hit out at partner Ronnie O’Sullivan (Image: BBC)

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Saturday Kitchen: Laila and Ronnie revealed their food heaven and hell (Image: BBC)

“I love aubergine because my mum cooked it, it’s Lebanese food and my mum loves cooking Lebanese food. I’ve grown up with aubergine.

“But you’re not a fan, though?” Matt asked Ronnie.

“It’s very hard to get it right. If it’s right it’s okay but if it’s not I don’t like it and coriander is a complete no-no.”

“Some people taste coriander and they think it tastes soapy,” Matt said. “Ronnie, what’s your idea of food heaven?”

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Saturday Kitchen: Matt joked it was “amazing” the couple got on with each other (Image: BBC)

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Saturday Kitchen: Matt was amused by the couple’s eating habits (Image: BBC)

“I love fish cod is nice anything fishy,” the snooker champion replied.

“I hate cod I really don’t like I’ve tried to cook it,” Laila commented.

“It’s amazing you still get on,” Matt joked.

“She’s adapted her menu. I put a menu out every Monday,” Ronnie remarked.

“When he winds me up I just make aubergine for supper and then he just starves,” Laila joked.

Later, Matt quizzed the couple on their respective favourite foods and why they were drawn to them. 

Laila revealed: “My mother was a chef and her speciality was Lebanese food so they roast a lot of aubergine and that’s something I grew up with. But [Ronnie] can’t stand aubergine.”

“It doesn’t do anything for me, aubergine it doesn’t have any flavour and coriander does the opposite for me it kills me,” Ronnie said.  “My mate calls me the fish man because I always have fish wherever I go,” he continued. “Red meat can sit around too long whereas fish goes and I can get on with what I need to do.”

“That’s quite visual, thanks for that,” Matt joked and Laila added: “On a Saturday morning.”

Discussing her imminent return to Holby City as Sahira Shah, the actress said: “I left 2012 and so it’s good to be back. Sahira is a go-getter she’s really talented, she’s really ambitious. It’s like visiting an old friend going back to Holby.

“I was supposed to start filming in May but then we went into total lockdown so it delayed until October hence I only stopped filming two weeks ago.”

“If you’ve got to touch somebody they’ve got to be in your bubble so they bringing in somebody that’s in your bubble,” she explained.

“There was one day Ronnie wasn’t playing and I said Ronnie can come and they looked at his pictures and they said, ‘No, he’s just too hairy we’re never going to be able to match them’ so he didn’t come in in the end.”

And Laila has got Ronnie interested in the Buddah and Greek philosphers … as well as being “boring” in everyday’s life.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Laila Rouass’s new life – Buddhism, green tea and early nights

EXCLUSIVE Laila says the snooker champion’s rock and roll days are behind him as he now prefers green tea and turning in at 11pm

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Laila Rouass and her fiance, former wild man of snooker Ronnie O’Sullivan

He’s not quite at the pipe and slippers stage but it looks like The Rocket’s turbo boosters have been turned down a few notches.

For years, snooker speed king Ronnie O’Sullivan grabbed the headlines for his booze and drug antics as well as his ­wizardry at the table.

But at 45, a father of three – and even a grandad – the current world champion really does have a more philosophical approach to life.

And he can thank fiancée Laila Rouass for that.

The Holby City actress has been researching the ­teachings and methods of the Buddha and Greek philosophers as part of her studies in wellbeing.

She says Ronnie has bought into the idea too and is a calmer cueman as a result.

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Laila says she’s been inspired by philosophers to help her future husband Ronnie (Image: Alpha Press)

Gone are the days – and nights – of living it up with rock giants like Ronnie Wood and Liam Gallagher.

Now, says Laila, 49, her fella is more likely to be found tucked up in bed for an early night with a cup of green tea.

Having seen the effect on Ronnie, the former Footballers’ Wives star is now setting up a workshop, a ­website and an Instagram page to help ­others through the stresses of lockdown.

Laila, who has been with Ronnie for nine years, said: “I enrolled on a Yale University course on wellbeing and happiness which has led to me starting a new initiative about self-compassion.

“It’s been a lifesaver for me. I’m ­putting together a workshop using the likes of Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, whose philosophy is about dealing with setbacks – like at the moment.

….
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Two Ronnies – O’Sullivan and Wood – along with Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones back in 2004 (Image: Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock)

“To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control. We should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately.

“But individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through self-discipline.

“Buddha’s whole view was about what happens in life not being permanent.

“It’s about changing your mind state. That’s kind of what I’ve done through lockdown. In some ways, it’s been so ­useful for me to have this time.

“Our mindset also affects how we treat ourselves and how we eat.”

Speaking about how her new philosophy has affected Ronnie, Laila added: “I did the course but he’s kind of got into it as a result.

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Ronnie now has a healthier lifestyle (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

“There’s a thing called ‘Intuitive Eating’ which sounds a bit Gwyneth Paltrow/hippy dippy, but it’s based in scientific fact and research.

“It’s a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals.

“Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t impose guidelines about what to avoid and what or when to eat. It’s listening to your body and eating food that makes your body feel good.

“So Ronnie’s started realising, like me, that this stuff actually works. It’s just small practices that you can include in your daily life that make you happier.

“He’s started doing it and is loving it. He knows that if he has a big, fat Maccy D’s he’s not going to feel good afterwards.

“But it’s not easy to get into that mindset and break old habits. It’s easy to realise what it is, but it takes ­practice to actually do it.” It all seems to be having an impact on Ronnie.

….

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Ronnie O’Sullivan plays a shot during the first round match on day two of the 2020 ManBetX Welsh Open (Image: Getty)

Laila went on: “He’s so boring these days. He likes watching TV, going out for dinner.

“All those rock and roll days are well and truly over.

“Before the pandemic, I’d be like, ‘Let’s go out! Let’s go to the club. Let’s go downstairs and have a dance’. And he’d be, ‘No, mate, no, no, no’ – that’s what he’s like – so we’d be having our green tea at 11 o’clock at night.”

Charismatic Ronnie has long been regarded as the sport’s most naturally gifted player – and its greatest ever.

He has six world titles and many believe he would have more but for off-the-table distractions.

Ronnie has turned to sports psychiatrist Steve Peters over the years, with great success.

He has said that he fancies giving something back himself when he hangs up his cue, possibly as a drugs and alcohol counsellor or carer.

“When I finish playing I want to train as a counsellor. I want to understand the business and mental health side.”

Fans will hope a retired Ronnie is a few years off, of course. He has the small matter of the world championships to defend in April.

He doesn’t make himself favourite to win. But then he’s always been philosophical like that.

Laila might have got Ronnie into the Buddah, early nights and green tea, but she failed to get him on Holby City … and that’s because he’s too hairy!

Snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘too hairy’ for Holby City role with girlfriend Laila Rouass

Sahira Shah (Laila Rouassa) will make her return to the hospital tomorrow to run Darwin Ward and over the weekend, Laila was on Saturday Kitchen with her husband and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.

With soaps using the two metre rule when filming, it means any scenes that involve two characters being in close proximity either have to be altered or, a family member must be called in to replace the other actor. During Laila and Ronnie’s appearance on Saturday Kitchen, they revealed he wasn’t able to be used as a body double because he was too hairy to be a patient.

Laila told presenter Matt Tebutt: ‘It’s so funny. What happens now is if you’ve got to touch somebody, like a patient, you’ve got to know them, they’ve got to be in your bubble. So they bring in somebody that’s in your bubble and just cut away. I was like ‘oh yeah Ronnie can come’ and they looked at his pictures and they said ‘no no, he’s just too hairy – we’re never going to be able to match them’.

Laila continued: ‘So he didn’t come in in the end. I think it would have been fun to have him as a supporting artist. I think it’s the Italian [in him].’

Well, having seen it close-up, I can’t argue with the”hairy” bit!

Now, surely that’s enough gossipy gossip  for an entire year.

I promise, I’m back to snooker tomorrow!