Wales 2026 World Cup Bid

Dear Zed Lister and fellow Sweet FA delegates,

I feel it is time that I launched the Wales bid to host the 2026 World Cup. After all, you have provided Qatar as the clearest of blueprints for success. Listening to my cortege of footballing pundits I could have been mistaken for thinking this once every four years prestigious tournament was a true spectacle of the peoples game put on as a festival of entertainment for the delight of the people of the world. However, you have enlightened me to the true realities that it is a complex front for your eminence and fellow crooks, sorry administrators of the game, to engorge yourselves in luxury at the expense of the ordinary spectators. Why didn’t I see that earlier, it is just like the life us cats weave for ourselves on a more permanent basis in the homes of our servants.

As leaders of the world game I am sure you will be steeped in its history, so I will launch the Wales bid on an example of the selfless generosity of its historical contribution to gamesmanship. We clearly surpass Qatar in our our World Cup pedigree and history. They weren’t even in Sweden on that 1958 day when we generously allowed Brazil a quarter-final 1-0 win for them to go on to eventually win the cup. We realised at the time that Brazil may never be good enough to grace the World Cup stage again, whereas we would undoubtedly become permanent attenders at all future tournaments.

The most important element of any worldwide competition has to be the official mascot… what else does anyone remember a few days after it has all finished? Qatar are unlikely to fool anyone with their diamond studded pot of gold mascot, whereas we have the ghost of John Charles

     to strike fear into all, and leave a memorable image of the gentle giant for the kids of the world to dream of emulating. Gareth Bale was in contention, but concerns publicly expressed by Harry Redknapp that “he spends most of his time working on his barnet” led my bid committee to be concerned about his availability outside of salon opening times. As for the constant playing with his hands and that heart thing… will someone just give him a mobile phone to play with!

    

As paragons of virtue and intelligence I thought you at the ‘Sweet FA’ were perfectly placed, in your plush Swiss offices, to be fully aware and on top of the necessary considerations about summer temperatures of 40-50 degrees. You offered Qatar and the football loving world a perfectly reasonable choice… an unnatural and phenomenal expense to provide an innovative green cooling system to reduce temperatures in all stadiums, or cause massive disruption to football leagues the world over by staging the tournament in winter. I promise you that here in Wales the summer temperatures are frequently 40-50 degrees, but a plan is in place to provide spectators with complimentary plastic macs and jumpers in their national colours, with the addition of the Welsh flag emblem as a gesture of multicultural friendship. I apologise unreservedly if this deprives you of an opportunity for skimming off the top any lucrative backhanders resulting from the need to impose grotesquely over-inflated and costly solutions to unnecessary problems. However, along with other cost-savings I will outline in our plan, this creates greater opportunities for us to lavish our expenses on you and your wives.

What about the cost of developing stadia? In the middle of the Qatari desert billions are planned to be spent on state of the art stadia, while here in Wales we will save all that money by playing most of the games at the Millenium Stadium, where the roof can be kept closed against the potential for steel rod like rain dampening the motivations of the young billionaires on the pitch. It is close to the railway station for teams and their supporters flying into the UK and then getting the train. It is also next to the river Taff, so we can extravagantly transport you and your delegates by Cardiff Bay pleasure boats from your hotel direct to the stadium.

Millenium Stadium 4

Cardiff City Stadium [1]

More lowly ranked countries can play at the nearby Cardiff City Stadiumparticularly those who are unsure what colours they should be playing in, and to avoid the sight of empty seats through smaller crowds in our national stadium. However, your presence would not be required at such a small venue… it would be so undignified in relation to your overblown image of yourselves.

Player accommodation at the St Mary Street Travelodge allows the majority of them to walk to the stadium; but an extra bus can be put on the route to the Cardiff City Stadium for players of teams who are not used to walking further than to their parked Ferrari’s. Of course, you at the ‘Sweet FA’ as world administrators of the beautiful game will be accommodated at the St. David’s Hotel and Spa at no personal expense.

St Davids Hotel [8]For your many unnecessary visits we will meet you at the rebranded Wales International Airport, at Heathrow, and pay all of your fees at the Severn Bridge toll booths. During the competition all players and spectators will be directed through the clapped out Cardiff Airport, not to burden you with the need to meet or speak with the lesser subjects of your sport.

All of the money-saving initiatives are carefully designed to increase the pot available for bribing, sorry, entertaining you the world leaders of the professional game at the ‘Sweet FA’. As highly respected visiting delegates you will be provided with free use of the City Sightseeing Bus, with commentaries about all the cities in warmer climates where you would currently prefer to be. Your wives will be offered free gifts from their personal choice of stall in the Cardiff Central Market, with free shoe repairs while they wait thrown in for good measure. As a re-think on the Bale heart thing, commemorative hearts will be cast in gold for each delegate and their wives… wrought from the iron ore of Merthyr Tydfil, smelt by the power of purest Welsh steam coal, and borne of the sweat and toil of our working man, if he can be found or isn’t on a health and safety imposed permanent tea break. In this event there is always Plan B… a plastic replica made in China (helping to secure their vote). Free bags of Welsh cakes will be available throughout the period of the bid and tournament, but only to ‘Sweet FA’ personnel and their families.

We are fully aware of the tactics needed to win the strategic votes from around the world… a Welsh Baptist Minister in Patagonia is working on the Americas vote, with South America in the bag, and dispatched to target the bible thumping mid-west. Threats to sue over the title New South Wales should bring in the Oceania vote. The Cardiff City FC connections with Malaysia should easily secure the Asian vote. Craig Bellamy‘s predicted role as a future African President will guarantee the African vote. Europe as our home region initially appear a stubborn convert… but when we seduce Scottish support with our plaque at Cardiff City Stadium the vote will surely follow.

Cardiff City Stadium [8]It is surely to our credit that we have many useless sporting administrators here in Wales, which should endear us to your core philosophy and ways of thinking; and with further mentorship from your delegates we should proudly ensure that nothing deviates from the main ethos established in your corrupt, sorry open and transparent, commitment to leadership. What we have learned most from the experience of Qatar is that we don’t need any relevant history in the game, or existing stadiums full of passionate supporters, or a climate suited to sporting exertion, or even respect for the ordinary fans. Whatever the available budget, as long as we demonstrate that the majority of it is directed to the comforts of you, the world administrators of the ‘Sweet FA’, and your shopping obsessed wives, then we can fill our boots and have ourselves a tournament. Where in Switzerland do I send the suitcases of unmarked bills?

I have been Juno, demonstrating my bid-leading credentials, and I am open to any bribes, I mean constructive suggestions, before I speak with you again.

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Boss-4-Us

Just when I was getting ready to step up to the leadership plate one of my dedicated followers says Bosphorus in Turkey, not a boss for us!” Us cats don’t care too much for geography, we just need a little bit of immediate territory to dominate, and then it’s just a matter of employing personal travel advisers and taxi drivers. But ‘turkey’ does get the imagination going, and I am already dreaming of my favourite spot in Cardiff Central Market, ‘J.H. Morgan’s meat extravaganza and vegetarians nightmare’ since way back in Victorian times…

Turkey [1]

 

 

 

… and more importantly what it looks like on a plate at home:

Turkey [2]

 

How undignified, I am drooling at the thought of these images, when my so called companions are off out of the door muttering something about a Turkish restaurant with views over the bay and a place where east meets west in culture and tastes.

Bosphorus [2]

 

Looks a bit precarious to me… sitting over water inside or outside sounds more like an ordeal, but my personally appointed aquatic representatives say it enhances the views across the bay and gives it a sense of separateness from some of those run-of-the-mill chain restaurants clustering along the shoreline. The Bosphorus Turkish Restaurant seems to have an interesting menu, so I am slightly perplexed when the starters ordered suggest there has been an invasion of grass munchers:

Bosphorus [4]

 

What is it with the stuffed vine leaves and salad garnish with pitta bread? Looks well presented… if you like that kind of thing. Enough to drive a water-drinking cat to down that Turkish Efes beer in meat-driven desperation.

Bosphorus [6]

Relief soon arrives with the main course… I must learn to trust my surrogate food-tasters. My kind of culinary variety is meat, garnished with meat, with a side of meat, and maybe an isolated vegetable decorating the table to tantalise the weak and mild. I am more impressed by a vision of mixed shish v lamb cutlets, even if both plates do have to give up space for rice and salad accompaniments.

This was a very relaxing way to spend an hour or so satisfying the need for a mid-afternoon lunch while strolling around Cardiff Bay. It looks like it might also be a place for that evening meal or special occasion, as other reviews seem to largely suggest.

Bosphorus [3]

 

I’ve been Juno, and Turkey seems good to me either on a plate or as a restaurant. I will speak with you again soon when I have turned that vision of turkey on a plate into my own tasty treat.

Wos occurring?

I understand that Cardiff is the location of a rift in time and space, which acts as a portal for all extra-terrestrial life arriving on our planet; or so the Torchwood legend would have us believe.

  But is there any evidence that intelligent or other life has actually come through this portal, and does Torchwood really protect us against any threatening invaders? The jury is out on both cases, but I thought I would stroll around my local area to search for any evidence. My initial discoveries suggest that strange creatures may well have made it through:

          Recent reports suggest that the local football club has been infected by destructive forces. Either that or the future of male fashion has been unveiled, and it isn’t a pretty sight! The first shock wave came when a ‘Tan the man’ invader conjured up a spell that changed the cherished local blue of 100 years into red. If that shock wasn’t enough for the baying hordes, the fear factor was ramped up even further as an experienced bureaucrat with superior HR powers was suddenly turned into a novice painter and decorator. Spectators at the next home game should be very fearful of the powers of this footballing ignoramus, unless, that is, there is evidence of intergalactic protectors in the local area.

Dr Who Experience [1]The first positive signs appear in the unlikely form of a sci-fi/Jimmy Hendrix cross-over shed like affair. Just to portray the right kind of strong message it stands defiantly in blue.

Didn’t the whole Torchwood hub idea emerge out of the legend of some doctor with a sonic screwdriver. ‘Doctor With’ doesn’t have the right ring to it, so I send a call out for anyone to come up with a better name for a Doctor Who type of character instead (CV’s strong on foul-mouthed government experience preferable)! However, this cat wants a bit more evidence than just some oversized shed, before I believe we might be saved from the Malaysian Megalomaniac.

Tardis in a shopping trolley

Didn’t the old space and time travellers use some sort of police box as a way of getting around? Given their current press coverage I am not sure that connections with the police should be that reassuring regarding our future safety. But if our potential saviours have only nicked police property to effect time travel, I am slightly more reassured when I find evidence of a possible time machine not far from the afore-mentioned shed. What’s more, it has successfully managed to navigate itself outside of the inevitable trap laid by the ubiquitous supermarket trolley… one of the most environmentally recognisable icons across the landscape of the UK.

At first I receive a big set back, it seems that one of our possible saviours is no longer. Hopefully this shrine is only a fiction, designed to give a false sense of security to alien visitors; but these humans have form when it comes to ridiculous collective outpourings of grief for people they only know through the media!

Torchwood [1]

Torchwood [4]

It seems I am not alone in the desperate search for our Torchwood heroes, as heavily disguised Cardiff City FC fans scour the area where the team had previously been sighted entering their secret hub. If they are still here somewhere in the city there might be some hope that the soccer slayer from the far east might be stopped.

Much to my surprise and delight, it seems that even super heroes leave their litter outside of the office. Sure signs that earth-saving powers are on hand.

Torchwood [6]Being the location of a threatening space and time rift through which evil can arrive on earth is one thing, but this cat isn’t easily scared by just one example of the dark arts identified across Cardiff. Having said that, a few more examples are tending to give me some vivid nightmares of late:

Wall mural [2]

Wall mural [3]

 

 

 

 

 

I have been Juno, bringing you reasons to be fearful, but if Torchwood is still out there I will be more confident about speaking with you again soon.

A perfect start to Sunday

If I am honest my real perfect start to a Sunday is an impression of an armadillo, curled up and ignoring the world… but I guess

Armadillo posewe all need to find some reasons to get up, even on a Sunday. The day my resident housekeeper decided we were moving out of London back to Cardiff I did have some fears and trepidations… particularly about Sunday mornings. After all, this Wales joint is known for its fire and brimstone parable-ranting preachers, scaring the hell out of the morning-after-the-Saturday-night-hangover-crowd. Back in simpler times Sunday morning always seemed to be the perfect antidote to having a good time!

Well, it seems like my tea-drinking homie, who says coffee at home just isn’t right, has discovered the place to be for the best in coffee. It was Iris Murdoch who once said “Coffee, unless it is very good and made by somebody else, is pretty intolerable at any time.” So if you are going to reserve this pleasure as a reason for leaving home, it needs to be consistently good; after all, Justina Chen once said Adventure in life is good, consistency in coffee even better.” 

Now I must admit to being a bit dubious about any place calling itself Numero Uno Coffee 1 [3]but it does tweak my interest to see if it can live up to its self-imposed challenge. I am told that a few of these coffee houses, with a particular spot down the un-castled end of Cardiff’s Queen Street, live up to the name. Not that I will find out for myself, as Karen says she is allergic to cats! Though I think it is more to do with supporting Tottenham Hotspur myself. Either way, I decide to send my personal coffee taster to experience the arduous challenge of sitting around in relaxed comfort while slurping the most important part of the coffee bean’s journey (a whole journey pictorially represented on the wall) and sampling a fine selection of the sweet and savoury stuff.

‘So tell me oh laid-back one, what is your perfect vision for a Sunday morning?’

Coffee 1 [7]‘Ok, also tell me, my surrogate cappuccino-gargler, what makes this place worth visiting?  Could it be a combination of all sorts of restored furniture, comfy chairs and sofas, fabulous coffees, delicious sausage baps, almond croissants that blow your mind, carrot cake of door-stopping proportions, and an eclectic mix of laid back music?’ Being succinct of answer they said Yes, to all of that’. Fortunately for me, other people had more to say for themselves on the subject of coffee…

Coffee#1 [1] Coffee#1 [2]

Cassandra Clare once said “As long as there is coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”

Marcia Carrington once said “A morning coffee is my favourite way of starting the day, settling the nerves so that they don’t later fray.”

Coffee 1 [6]

Dave Barry once said “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”

‘And what of the welcome?’ I enquired of my newly found ‘coffee quotation repeating machine’… I am told the staff are very friendly and welcoming, and even regularly come out with the most pleasing of phrases… ‘Take a seat, and I will bring your coffee over to you’.

Coffee 1 [9]How civilised it all sounds; after all, us cats like nothing more than sitting around being pampered. I even hear that this place is populated by talented as well as friendly staff, with Marta in the picture doing a bit of the running thing (which only makes sense to me if there is another animal to chase), and Jadon developing as a talented artist. I can think of no better way of getting a Sunday started than letting talented people do all the work while I reap the rewards… the difficulty I am told is wanting to do anything else, at least until the football and beer step into the void later in the day. As for me, a busy Sunday is really all about finding the sunny spot and having a stretch.                                                                Sunshine at 14 2

However, it seems that my resident deluded writer doesn’t see this as the place only to be reserved for a perfect Sunday morning. While that is a relaxing quiet newspaper reading time, this is also the place where they seem to disappear off to for a break from the office at home… to people-watch the office workers doing lunch, the students studying, the shoppers chilling-out, the families gathering, the friends chattering, and the workers meeting for that all-important information-sharing decision-making time away from the workplace. Clearly these workers haven’t taken to heart what Ronald Reagan once said (or was that more than once?) “I never drink coffee at lunch, I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”

This place feels like a throw-back to good values of the past, and at the same time feels like a contemporary part of a new culture. Fortunately, it is not stuck with some of the stranger coffee drinking experiences of the past when hot & wet was more important than quality. Jarod Kintz once said “I told the waitress I wanted some coffee. She asked if I wanted leaded or unleaded, so I had to leave the restaurant. I quit drinking gasoline years ago.” 

Coffee#1 at Queen Street lives up to the name, and my surrogate pleasure seeker does the skinny cappuccino and carrot cake thing occasionally just to torment me, I’m sure.

Coffee 1 [8]I have been Juno for yet another Sunday morning, and on the basis of many reports I suggest that if you value all that is good in life get to a Coffee#1 as soon as you can. I will speak with you again, as soon as I can stop thinking about that carrot cake while staring at the rocks I get served up in my bowl.

Tales from Dumbfuckistan [2]

       It really makes my day when the self-proclaimed centre of the universe applies my rules to the way it operates. Take that Obama guy, he seems like a really cool cat, but he is learning that the job is a bit like trying to herd us cats.

            

Why, just the other day, when I was talking to my in-house staff, it was difficult getting them to understand that decisions are really important, they are what keep the order in our little world, they prevent the chaos from taking over. What we decide together is just fine… that is, until I decide I want to do something else. Take for example the food thing… we can all agree that eating healthily at reasonable intervals is a good thing, and even Adolf the Vet was recently making some speech about it while prizing open my mouth and muttering something about plaque build-up. I fully support the idea, and I see where everyone is coming from… but right now I demand my rights under whatever amendment to the constitution states that my bowl is to be refilled even if there is another couple of hours until so-called ‘reasonable time’!

                   As we venture out into the busy city I fully support the need for all these traffic lights. I get that the roads would be in an even bigger state of carnage if there was a highway free-for-all attitude. However, as much as I am one of the first to sign up to that decision, there is the matter of my constitutional right to uphold my personal rainbow ethic, and to

proceed forward on whatever colour I wish…    

I am the first to say that the whole health thing is important for all of us. I don’t know how I would get by if my servant staff were to succumb to ill health… it would probably cause an inconvenience to my usual sleep patterns… I might have to put up with as little as 20 hours a day.

      The National Health Service is a great reassurance to me, and I am of the opinion it should remain free at the point of delivery for all those who can afford to pay for it… upfront… no scrounging.

Then of course there is the democracy thing, where everyone gets to have a vote… the only problem being that sometimes the majority get it wrong. Can Turkeys really be trusted on the vote about christmas dinner? Of course us cats believe in democracy, why else would we throw a big tea party to celebrate the generosity of imposing our minority vote on the masses who are plain too dumb to get it right by themselves?

[All images downloaded from free ‘images of…’ sites on the internet].

I am the leader of the Juno party, and as soon as my subjects understand the principle of what is mine is mine, and what is their’s is mine, the sooner we will re-establish the true order of democracy. These are the fine traditions on which our supremacy is built, and on which we are able to impose the freedom of democracy on all other groups in the animal kingdom… it is our responsibility to keep despotic dawgs on a tight leash, until they learn our way is the only way. I fully intend to share more of my thoughts with you again, as soon as I bring the domestic economy of my deluded house mates crashing down… and let that be a lesson to them.

Call this an adventure?

They seem to think that I am not listening and taking in everything they say on the phone… not using the V-word eh? Seems like my resident nazi sympathiser has a trip planned for me; but little do they know I saw the postcard (addressed to me!) about my annual health check and booster vaccination being due. “It will be an adventure” they say, while slyly referring on the phone to some “trip to Hull and back” or a similar phrase. Well, I have my own plans regarding this forthcoming adventure I can tell you. Firstly, I try the hiding thing,

Try hiding

 

 

 

… but I guess the whiskers against the plain door kind of gives the game away. Never mind, there is always Plan B…

 

Check paper

 

 

 

 

Looking busy, counting the number of sheets of photocopying paper in the box beneath the printer. Being helpful should do the trick… Damn, this wasn’t supposed to happen, where did this cage come from?

Not sure about this cage business

 

All that work in the office and I must have taken my eye off the ball, and the devious servant’s only gone and rubbed a couple of brain cells together and come up with their own plan. So, if this is going to be an adventure at least I can expect a luxury limo to match my regal status as I glide around town…

Parking space no limo

 

 

… Ok, so I own a parking space, but who nicked the motor?

It looks like it is going to be the bus again. All that rickety, bumpy stuff, with both ends of the human age range asking their inane questions like “what have you got in the basket? Can I see the cat?” I might be mild-mannered in appearance but why can’t the disobedient one just invite them to put their fingers in through the grill?

The devil's waiting room

 

So here we are at last, in the devil’s waiting room. They try to fool you with nice young ladies smiling and calling me by name, when I know all too well that this is where I get groped and prodded, a sharp spike in the back of the neck, and the ultimate indignity of providing an indelicate home for someone’s thermometer! Why can’t they just ask me what my temperature is?

 

Never seen a bus looking so good

 

 

After an interminable few hours (ok, minutes… but quite a few of them), with me desperate to get back into that cage that I originally never wanted anything to do with, we are heading for the door. Escape at last… never did a bus look so good.

Thankfully, ‘to Hull and back’ is only an annual ordeal, but while I suffer the indignity of missing out on the chance to recline in a stretch limo, licking my bits and waving a paw to my subjects on the streets, I can at least move to Plan R… revenge on my resident trickster who tried to con me into thinking this was going to be an adventure. I could show them what post-adventure trauma looks like… perhaps coughing up fur balls on that light coloured carpet; or even feigning post veterinary dementia by thinking the litter tray was behind the TV in the corner of the room.

What I do for poached salmon

I guess hell is a place we all have to go to once in a while so that home can look a little brighter as the evenings draw in and the darkness of winter looms ever closer. The things a cat has to do around here to get a few morsels of the poached salmon!

I am Juno, I have experienced the road to hull, but I am back. If this is adventure I will stick with my complex lifestyle of sleeping, eating and, well you know the rest… I will speak with you again soon.

Why aye, monsieur

The land of song welcomes the city of great rock music for 90 minutes brimful of inane shouting and chanting dressed up as collective banter. Yes its time for the weekly ‘who are ya’s‘ and ‘your support is f*@king s%!t‘ to be eloquently presented by the neanderthal minority from one end of the stadium to the other. The Men of Harlech meet the Geordie Hordes as the passionate masses proclaim their city’s rites to Premier League glory. A musical son of Newcastle (born in Glasgow) recently provided us with a dialectical treat in the form of Why Aye Man, including the lyric There’s English, Irish, Scots, the lot. The following line talks about United Nations’ what we’ve got, which has been taken to a new level as Newcastle United can claim French, French, French and Argentinian is what we’ve got.

           

If you’re looking for the English then strangely it is the Welsh team line-up that will be of more interest to you! It’s 3.01p.m., and the home crowd are wondering…

City v Newcastle [1]

… which Newcastle team will they be up against: a cordon bleu menu served up with Chateauneuf du pape, or cheap plonk with a load of old pap? The away fans recall their old favourites, Lindisfarne, and the lyric Hey mr dreamseller, where have you been, tell me have you dreams i can see? For the first 45 minutes their dreams are answered as their team dominate pretty much everything of note that happens. With a half-time scoreline of 0-2 The Fog on the Tyne has done nothing to dim the view of the Newcastle players and fans, whereas the home fans are left wondering if the ‘Fog on the Taff’ has descended over their team, and fear a lyric of another Lindisfarne favourite: Had my share of nightmares didn’t think there could be much more.

Football has its moments, times when the bizarre passes off for normality, and this match duly obliged during the half-time interval… the away fans are treated to a personal performance of their icon tune, Blaydon Races, by the local and world famous Treorchy Male Voice Choir assembled on the pitch directly before them. Those of the Toon Army who hadn’t disappeared below ground to partake of the pie-eating challenge were duly appreciative of the gesture. The home fans played their part, with a backing vocal of a chorus of boos and obscenities; not a version that will be released for sale anytime soon! The second half couldn’t come soon enough…

City v Newcastle [2]

… and in a blaze of sunshine the cliche took on its usual embodiment; for the uninitiated football is often known as a game of two halves (yes, a first half and a second half… occasionally with four unequal halves if extra-time type competitions are being played… don’t ask, it’s probably just a need to out do cricket in the ‘need for explanation’ stakes).

Anyway, back to the real action… Cardiff City totally dominate the second half, scoring an early goal, and the away fans are now haunted by the Sting lyric: On and on the rain will fall… like tears from a star… how fragile we are. The casual flakiness of fans when their team suddenly change from being world-beaters to dead-beats usually causes something akin to introspection through the fearful chords of If I ever lose my faith in you (though ‘introspection’ and a shaven-headed neanderthal aren’t a regular mix to be found anywhere!). The home team keep knocking on the door (another one of those strange descriptions of footballing action), but to no avail. As the final whistle approaches the away fans are left to reflect on a brand new Sting song, as they take a battering And Yet I’m back, as they go away with the three points for a win. For the record the score is:

Bluebirds    1                                                 Magpies       2

          

Many thanks to the music legends of the north-east for providing the backing track to this post. I’ve been Juno, apparently listening to a report of yet another competition where different birds are represented, though my preference would be for a mix of both teams in a Blue-Pie stew. See you again soon.