Tuesday, May 31, 2005
WORLD NEWS UPDATE
Some newspaper articles stand out from the crowd. From Monday's Guardian, News In Brief (ho ho):
Underwear alert from MoD
Service personnel have been ordered to wear appropriate underwear when attending uniform fittings after complaints from tailors, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday.
Er, I think we need a little more explanation. Or, perhaps, this one's best left ... hanging there...
PS - Okay, I wish I hadn't asked.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Crowd :: 57,000
Hamburger :: relish
Choker :: Greg Norman in the Masters
Lights :: candles
Tinsel :: Town
Testament :: Last Will and...
Best part of the day :: the second before now
Election :: stolen by Shrub
Clarinet :: Benny Goodman
Dead Sea :: Aral Sea
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Watching tonight's European Cup final, reminded me of another night of glory exactly 21 years ago. At White Hart Lane on a balmy May night, I was one of 49,000 witnessing a tense UEFA Cup final second leg against Anderlecht.
Spurs outplayed the Belgians in the first leg, but could only come away with a 1-1 draw. Outside the ground, battles raged between the rival supporters - it was the eighties, remember - and an innocent Spurs fan was stabbed to death in a bar.
The return leg was peaceful, but noisy and boisterous. I was in the Shelf, disappeared now below seats. Back then it was one of the best standing areas in English football.
The teams played to stalemate until midway through the second half when Andrelecht silenced the Lane snatching a slim lead. Spurs piled forward. Ardiles lobbed a ball into the box, it popped out and Graham Roberts, Mighty Graham Roberts toed it home. Bedlam.
Further bedlam about an hour later. As in Istanbul, the tie went to the dreaded penalties. Pre-St Etienne, pre-Turin, pre-Wembley, pre-Lisbon, pens were then a novelty. Spurs scored 4 out of 5. Anderlecht had scored 3 of 4. That night's hero was, as tonight, a much maligned goalkeeper. Tony Parks. Where are you now? Parks, three yards off the line saved the vital spot kick. Parks raced to the touchline. I was twelve rows down by the Shelf wall.
This was pretty much the last hurrah for a great Spurs side. There have trophies (too few) since then. But, with Manager Keith Burkinshaw leaving soon thereafter, Hoddle gone a few years later. Hoddle, however, didn't play in that final. Captain Steve Perryman missed the second leg with a suspension. Stevie still lifted the cup, as did Stevie Gerrard tonight.
Happy memories. Let's have a few more this century.
Well done, Liverpool.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Heimlich :: Mayor Ed Koch
Gesture :: one finger or two
Party :: favours (nothing to do with party politics, I'm sure)
Cuddle :: bunny
Room with a view :: the back bedroom
Sebastian :: Coe, Tory boy
Ooooh :: saucy!
Sigh :: sharp exhale
Two fish, three fish :: er, I'm a vegetarian
Cake or death :: that'l be Eccles
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Two challenges faced over the last few days. Friday night was opera night. Now, three years or so ago you wouldn't find me very near an opera house. It's still not my favourite art form, but there are compromises you have to make.
Berg's "Lulu" (I read over the weekend that he died before he finished the opera) is not the easiest piece. The story is fairly straightforward. Being opera, there's death and love involved. Lulu is a woman with loose morals. That being the case, there's plenty of sex. Thankfully, the audience is spared the details.
No, it's not the story that "challenges". It's the freeform structure and discordant music that makes this a bit of an effort for the novice. I don't usually have any problem with 20th century "classical" music. "Lulu", however, tested my resolve. Clocking in at 3 hours+ after a busy week didn't help either.
In contrast, Alison Moyet is about as mainstream as you can get. She's veering towards MOR/AOR. Indeed, there was quite a mixture in the audience with a definite slant towards the gay community.
I'm told that Basildon's own Moyet - a mid level star in the eighties with Yazoo (a duo with ex-Depeche Mode keyboard player Vince Clarke, now part of Erasure) - suffered terribly from stage fright. Difficult to imagine this as she was smooth in front of the mike and chatty between numbers.
Moyet has a powerful voice and really can belt it out. Her choice of material from Elvis Costello to 60s oddball "Windmills in Your Mind" fits her well. Like Berg, it's not quite my cuppa tea. Yet, I surprised myself by enjoying most of the concert.
Monday, May 16, 2005
WE NEED MORE "MULTI-FUNCTIONAL" PLAYERS, APPARENTLY
Tottenham have signed Canada international defender Paul Stalteri from German club Werder Bremen.
Tottenham sporting director Frank Arnesen said: "Paul Stalteri is a defender who can play in midfield. He is a multi-functional player, who can play on both sides.
Ooh, er, missus!
"He has come from a tough environment at Werder Bremen and their players are well known for their mentality [e-gads! - ed]. His biggest success was last year winning the double and he has now had good experience of European football.
That'll come in handy with Spurs (not!).
My arse is multi-functional. It poos and farts. All I care about is whether this bloke has a spine, unlike the rest of his superannuated new teammates.
Not that I'm bitter about another wasted season...
Sunday, May 15, 2005
HA, BLOODY, HA!
Time to mock Manchester United? Or to ponder, "there for the grace of God (or the stock market) go I (or "my" football club)"?
Manchester United and Arsenal's domination of the Premier League has not, to this blogger, been good for the game. You might add that the Premier League itself has been bad, Abramovitch is the latest bad thing. Money has always ruled the professional game. However, the game in England is only as good as the health of its foundations. For me, the foundations are not Arsenal, Man U, Chelsea or even Spurs. The foundations are the smaller clubs which produce much of the English game's talent.
I will give the Premier League some due. It has pumped huge amounts of money into the game. It produces a good product envied around the world. But, those facts are part of its inherent badness. The money has not filtered down the grassroots. Relegation from the top flight is now a one way ticket to financial ruin, because - parachute payments or not - a club in the lower division will never recoup the lost income to fund Premier League wages. That means a relegated club has to either cut wages or sell players. That makes it more difficult to get back to the top flight and even if a club manages to do so the odds are they'll get relegated again in a season or two - see West Brom, Palace this season. One or two clubs - Fulham, Portsmouth and Birmingham - have bucked the trend, but two of those are bankrolled by rich families and the other is connected with organised crime (I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which).
Back to Man U. As most of the serious press have said over the last few days (often with a sense of glee), Glazer's takeover is merely a consequence of stock market flotation. (Ditto Abramovitch and Chelsea, I might add.) So why cry about it?
Spurs went through similar upheavals when the evil Alan Sugar landed at White Hart Lane. True, Sugar never wrested complete control and throughout his reign there were significant minority shareholders. What is it about Sugar, Glazer and their like that makes them so unpopular?
Sugar's main "crime" was defeating Terry Venables in a power struggle. Well, Venables was a good (not great) coach, but an absolutely terrible businessman. Spurs were better off without Venables, though I'm not so sure they were much better off with Sugar.
The problem with Glazer is that he's not a football man. He's only in it for the money. Well, D'uh. Man U is a highly successful business in its own right, even without performances on the pitch. This sticks in the craw of every other supporter in the land, but Man U plc is by far the most profitable sports club in Europe and, possibly, the world.
That brings me to an old quote - "Rooting for the [New York] Yankees is like rooting for US Steel." To bring that quote up to date - "Rooting for Man U is like rooting for Microsoft."
Frankly, I hope Glazer fucks up Man U. The huge debt he's saddling the club with is terrible news...for the club. I hope it's great news (along with the lovely debt Arsenal now have thanks to their new stadium) for the rest of football.
Meanwhile, the most important games today concern the battle for 7th place - Spurs at home to Blackburn; Man City entertaining Middlesbrough. Sad.
Grandma :: Moses
Pet :: hate
Desolate :: Tasmania
Backspace :: comma
Common ground :: where you feed your livestock
Storm :: clouds are gathering
Dark :: Star
Water bottle :: drink
Training :: wheels (on bicycle)
dot coms :: slash broke
Thursday, May 12, 2005
...AND IN OTHER NEWS...
Australia's foreign ministry has apologised for an e-mailed advisory warning of the dangers of travelling to the Western Australian capital, Perth.
The foreign ministry said the message was mistakenly sent out by an outside contractor, as a test.
Watch out for wallabies? (Answer: a tube of Swan Laaar-ger.)
Variously described as the "friendly city", "laid back", and the "most isolated city in the world", Perth is not usually known for its risks.
No, but it is dull as fuck; lacks any atmosphere and is dominated by suburbs. Oh, and the much loved "Freo" (that's Fremantle to you and me), is just a sad run-down haunt of hippies.
But the City of Perth Council was less concerned.
"The weather is a bit dodgy," a spokesman commented.
It was rainy and cold when I was there last September.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Former Iamadonut sarker pinup, Freddie Adu (aged 15 ¾), has just been named Major League Sarker’s player of the week with a goal and two “assists”.
Time for Martin Jol to get out to DC and sign this man.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
LABOURING THE POINT
Old news, I know, but a few thoughts on the election.
My vote: I don't view my vote for the Greens as wasted. Despite another huge majority for Labour in my constituency, the Greens almost doubled their share. On the one hand, Green voters might be disheartened that despite around 5 or 6% in seats where they contested, they will have no representation in Parliament. But, I'm taking a glass half full view on this one. Unless you vote for something, rather than against, what is the point of voting.
Proportional representation: that leads nicely to an issue on the minds of pundits and minority candidates. Caroline Lucas, on the UK Greens' European Parliament members, appeared on BBC World (the election coverage I had to rely on in Paris). She made the point that where PR has been adopted - European elections, Scotland and Wales - the minority parties do get representation and their share of the vote is consistent and, more importantly, counts. Pundits said that the Tories should bite the bullet and support PR. But, why should they. Even though Labour won outright (with a still sizeable Parliamentary majority) with 36% of the vote, All it will take is a small swing at the next election for a change of power. PR in the next election might well deprive them of power. The current system favours the two main parties. So, don't hold your breath.
Election moment: not Tony buying ice cream for Gordon. On the evening of 4 May we travelled up to London on the train. Tessa Jowell, Labour candidate and Culture Secretary, was handing out leaflets at West Norwood station. I took the opportunity to politely, but forcefully tell her that I could not bring myself to vote for Labour because of Iraq. I have no idea if the message sank in. But, it made me feel better.
THAT EU CONSTITUTION DEBATE IN FULL
Seen in "European Voice", the weekly for Euro policy wonks.
Don’t bore yourself reading all 800 pages and just vote “yes”. It’s very important.
Monday, May 09, 2005
Reflections on the last week or so:
- Why were there so many ugly people in Gothland, North Yorkshire?
- Goathland has been ruined by Heartbeat.
- I turned 47 - don't feel a day over...
- Castlemaine XXXX is pretty awful.
- France closes for Bank Holidays. And the day after.
- You can eat good vegetarian food in Paris.
- You can get rather cold sitting on top an open top double deck tourist bus.
- Flights leaving at 0645 are not much fun.
- Wet Whitby w@nk$.
- It is possible to do a worse Cockney accent than Dick van Dyke.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Android :: Marvin the Paranoid...
Revenge :: of the Nerds
Knight :: Rider (David Hasselhof!)
Stranded :: shipwrecked
Weakness :: for donuts
Greed :: avarice
Walter :: Mitty
Dense :: what are you, thick of som'ink?
Sheep :: Baaaaa!
Propane :: trailer park