Tuesday, 29 May 2007

nostalgia in space

This was the game I used to skip school to play in 'Budgie records' which became 'Budgie video' when VCRs first came out. You could get all the latest Betamax films there for more than it costs to rent a DVD from Blockbuster now. The shop was run by a dodgy looking bloke with a beard and he had these video games in a back room. Life in the fast lane.

Anyway...this game was distinct from all the other space ones like Pheonix or Galaxian because you had a 3 part ship that you had to dock. And I was better at it than anyone else. All my dinner money went here. No wonder I was such a skinny teenager. And such a nerd.

The music I haven't heard for over 25 years and yet it is so familiar. No wonder my brain has so much trouble remembering new things; it's still full of all this early 80s babble.

if you watched that video to the end...welcome to my world.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Have you got your twanger out?

no wonder my sister liked this programme. I had to make do with the flower pot men.

sentimental old bastard

It's about 7.30 on a wet Sunday morning. I imagine people waking up all over the country; opening one eye, they see the contented face of spouse/ partner then re-adjust their pillows and drift off into more self satisfied slumber. They love Sundays but they don't mind Mondays either cos work is great, they earn enough to sustain their comfotable (though never opulent) lifestyles and their kids are doing brilliantly at school, even though it's only the local comprehensive. Their grass is green. Meanwhile, just across the metaphorical tracks, I have been up since 6, unable to sleep again because my brain is full of worry. My best mate shuffles in, also unable to sleep.
'Couldn't sleep?' I ask.
'It's too light in my room.'
'But you have a blind.'
'Yeah but it's broken and it takes effort to roll it up again.'
I turn my lip up mockingly until I realise that I have two towels nailed to my window frame in lieu of curtains and they also let light in. I'm in my 40s. I don't live in my own flat; instead i'm renting from someone else. I'm divorced. I haven't been there enough for my son. Spurs still can't beat A*****l. MAN, why me? I spend 5 more minutes at this dip in my mental rollercoaster but then, without apparent reason, the chemical or neurological processes that channelled my brain downwards start pushing my thoughts back up to a peak. I remember the text exchange I had with my boy about Tottenham. I think about the laugh we had just sitting about during the week. I think about yesterday with my girl. I recall the laughs and the affection and look forward to our future. I remind myself of the telephone call to my sister who, despite a twisted foot, has been doing an amazing job for the charity she works for. I think about my mum; happier now than I can ever remember and doing things with her life that would be the envy of many people 40 years her junior.I see my best mate opposite me and (in a very manly way) appreciate the 20 years of friendship that makes him like a brother to me. Fuck it: life is brilliant.

Another image beckons: the waking people's grass isn't green. Sometimes it's mottled like mine can be; sometimes it's been concreted over. I make a mental note to stop looking into other people's back yards.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Get up it's a man's game

Sat and watched the cup final at my grandad's the other day. Grandad asks my girl twice if she really likes football. I'm kinda hoping she says, 'Actually no.' just to see if he will whip out some knitting or washing for her to do while we eat peanuts and criticise the overpaid and arrogant Chelskis and Manyoos on show (Spurs players, of course, get just the right amount of money and give humble lessons in their spare time). Second half comes on and my grandad is making us all tea (incidentally, it tastes much nicer than my tea- we agree it's all in the use of a pot and china cups) and we've been chatting about footy in general, work and old people stuff and not listening to the commentators. Grandad notices that Robben is on the pitch. ''Who's he taken off? he wonders aloud.
''Is it Makalele?"
'No.' (in the distance I hear the faintest 'Cole' but put it down to birdsong)
'No. I can see him.'
'Well I don't know then.'
'Me neither.' The pundits are stumped.
'Cole.' says S.
'Oh yeah,' I say.
'Are you sure you like football?' asks my grandad.

Sticking two fingers up...

My son wanted to go into town the other Sunday. 'What do you want to do? Rugby? Bowling? Gamestation?'
'Nah, I want to go to Bob's Discount Emporium.'
'I need more stock.'

Looks like he's set himself up with a nice little sideline at school as a mobile, single product tuck shop. Seems he turned a tasty 15 quid profit last week after investing pocket money in supplies the weekend before.

'Are you allowed to do that?'
'Teachers sometimes buy kitkats from me.'

How can I argue with that logic. It also means he doesn't really need to ask me for money. I had a kitkat off him the other day. You can't say he doesn't look after his old man; he gave me a 5p discount.

Family Nan

There’s not much that I can say about this that the picture doesn’t tell. This is a really big nan. At first glance it was reminiscent of some kind of flat fish or ray, designed to sit on the sea floor and blend with the pebbles and detritus whilst sucking up bits of plankton or something (I’m not very good at animal stuff). Incredibly it performed a similar function because there were no crumbs and the linen was startlingly white beneath where it had sat at the end of the meal. It’s actually advertised as a ‘family nan’ but a table of varied ethnicities didn’t stop the waiters from letting us have them. There were ten of us in “Omar’s” in Bradford and we had two big breads on our table.

Competitive spirits were fostered at the sight of this unwieldy dough and several times a voice from the other end offered scorn at my southern inability to make more than a slight tear in the nobbly beast. If I had a restaurant I’d have family size everything that was cheap- it’s amusing and it fills people up. It always used to annoy me in my work canteen that they’d only give you a couple of potatoes per portion or a kid’s size serving of chips (as well as paper plates and suicide proof cutlery). How much is a potato? ‘Give people a bastard plateful and they will keep coming back'- it doesn’t take much to work that one out. Make something especially large and they’ll take photos of it and blog about it.

The whole ‘family’ size thing reminds me of when I was working in Austria. They had this big fad for describing anything in multipacks as ‘family pack’ (In English). No-one believes me when I relate this but I swear it’s true- I stopped to answer the screeching wail of nature in a service station somewhere up the Brenner Pass. Whilst enjoying the relief I read the following on the machine on the wall: ‘5 Kondom- Family Pack!’.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

A tree yesterday

I was pleased with the way this picture came out. I took it with my phone when I was lost in the woods.

Spurs 2 - City 1 (THFC finish 5th)

My post match post on 606:

All this season I'v been reading and hearing moaning by so called spurs fans having a go at Jol. OK, he's made a few tactical errors but, let's face it, for the second season running we finished fifth. Basically, without the general investment, money or continuity of management enjoyed by the top four, we have proved ourselves best of rest. We are closing the gap with A*****l and will continue to do so if we can hold on to Berbatov and strengthen the squad a little- we need a strong left back and maybe someone a little more pacy with some flair on the left. Lennon still needs to mature, Huddlestone looks good for a few years and one of these days Zokora will score a goal. Glory hunters from woolwich and the posh bit of London will blab on about this sort of comment but M J's blue and white army know they're scared- I bet some of those glory hunters are already considering a shift to the Lane. Let's face it, most of them were Leeds, West Brom, Blackburn or Forest fans not so many years ago.

Getting back to my point: hold your heads up those that tarnished Jol's name and tell it like it is- he's our best hope for champ league next season. We're all going on (another ) European tour.

a reply from 'spurs fan' muertomungi:

has another manager been MORE active in the transfer market than Jol. For what result, 5th, two seasons running. Wow, all hail the messiah.

You could pick two ex-Spurs teams from other premiership sides!

My abiding memory this season of Spurs will be two fold:

firstly the failure to defend that last free-kick (3-2 up, ref about to blow F/T) vs Chelsea in the FA Cup semi(Gardner, brought on specifically for purpose, allows Drogba a free header!).

Secondly, being played off the park by Sevilla at HOME (we could've been 4/5-0 down at H/T).

For me, Jol flatters to decive. He has no passion & his teams reflect that lack of passion. As for his chewing-gum thing.... YUCK!

And a reply:

some people are never happy- look at the record 1995-2005. we were a mid table nightmare. who would you rather have? Look at ferguson's first season at utd- granted they won the fa cup but only by the skin of their teeth- the fans were booing him off the pitch half way through that season. if only the board had listened to them, maybe he'd have come to us. you have got to be realistic- we broke a win record in europe- to say we could have been 4 down in the retun leg agaisnt sevilla - you may as well say we could in any game- it was a tactial error (Tainio at right back and chimbonda on left and king not fit) but, jesus, our defence was decimated. it happens. we played today for the third time in a week. why? cos we played 17 more games this season than last- we're scoring goals- Berba and Keane are up their with the best- more passion needed in midfield and stronger defence. But give the knocking a rest. I see guys like you at the lane every week- if all you're interested in is winning then we can do without you (if you even go that is)

I agree about the chewing gum thing though.


Walking across moorland yesterday I phoned my son to check if sheep would chase me when Iwalked across a field full of them. 'City boy!' he said. I'd been walking two hours by this time and I had no idea where I was. I relaxed a bit and struggled, ill equipped and thirsty, through lumpy grass and squelchy brown water that filled my boots every third step. I saw some sheep's ribs and the skull in this picture. Wolves or wild boar I guessed or something that would no doubt enjoy my meaty urban flesh. The rain started and the wind lashed it into my face as I struggled through the swampy terrain. I came to a stile that led to another field; this time full of cows. At least I thought they were cows. Maybe they were bulls. As I walked tentativley past them they stared at me in the way Gary Larson's cows stare blankly out of the cartoon panel. I took this picture as I walked past them, trying hard to exude confidence or, at the very least, an absence of fear. 'What are you looking at?' they all seemed to be asking. 'Get off our land.' Disturbingly, every time I looked round they all seemed to have rushed closer then adopted the same blank pose. It took me ages to get past them. I don't like cows.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Good riddance to chocolate

So, as per every year, the new kits are unveiled in time for parents all over North London and the South East (and one in Yorkshire) to mutter under their breaths: '£54.99...??? daylight robbery...I'll get his grandma to knit him one...bah.'
Glory glory hallelujah though; the chocolate monstrosity has gone. When Ferguson famously made his team change out of a grey strip at half time I scoffed along with the rest of the world but that shite brown thing they wore in some of our worst performances last season must have had an effect. Maybe it made them hungry or camouflaged or something.
The one Robbie is wearing is a one off to celebrate 125 years of THFC- it looks a bit like the Blackburn kit but is supposedly close to what the Spurs wore back in the days. The whole 125 year thing makes me feel old- I have a Spurs centenary shirt in a drawer somewhere- not that it fits so well now; people were smaller in those days.
I like the look on Berbatov's face: 'Why they put me in yellow? Yellow not a man's colour, I want Dawson shirt. Will use poison tipped umbrella on him in minute. That will show...now where I put my hair band...?'

Friday, 11 May 2007

Bradford Fire

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the Bradford fire. 56 people died when the main stand at Valley Parade caught fire during the last match of the season in 1985. It's strange how proximity in place can make you closer in time and emotion to an event too. I'm in Bradford today where a minute's silence marked several work places and in a few places I've been the talk is of people that died. The footage is shocking (as well as subject to much controversy- Yorkshire TV have worked hard to prevent it from being circulated on the web). The commentary is particularly poignant as you can clearly hear the change in emotion in the commentator's voice as well as the broader change from surprise to panic in the crowd as a whole. It makes me realise how much things have improved since then but, having read some of the reports and comparing it to Hillsborough, it also engenders a sense of anger at how it could have happened in the first place. It's stuff like this that really makes me angry though. From the Guradian article below: 'It was the deaths of 66 supporters at Ibrox in 1971 that led to the introduction of the first piece of legislation that offered protection to sports fans, the 1975 Safety of Sports Grounds Act. Government staggered the legislation's introduction; international and First Division grounds were designated first, with lower division grounds to follow later. Only they did not. After lobbying, the Thatcher government indefinitely postponed further designation on the basis that lower division grounds were not attended in sufficient numbers even though any proposal that public safety legislation be abandoned at other public buildings that held thousands less would have brought uproar.'



Tuesday, 8 May 2007

I love martin Jol

inspired song, crap images.

Of all the teams to get relegated

Of course we needed the points, of course we're likely to struggle on Thursday to Blackburn (who still have an outside chance of qualifying for Europe), of course Man City won't be the pushover they should be but...I can't help feeling discomfort about Charlton's relegation and the fact that Spurs sealed it with their 2-0 win at the Valley last night. I know there was one incident last year but, apart from that, they are such a friendly, innocuous, happy-go-lucky bunch that it just seems a darned shame. I lived in the Woolwich area for a couple of years and I still don't understand where all these nice people at the Valley come from; they certainly don't frequent the shops in Woolwich. That's reserved for women in toweling jumpsuits f-ing and blinding at their scrawny offspring.

It looks as if West Sham are going to scrape survival at Wigan's expense- the kind hearted me thinks maybe this is a good thing for London football seeing as two london clubs are already set for the drop. The Spurs fan in me thinks: 'spawny gits.' I also think it's a shame for us that we can't now cream off their top players. Tevez is definitely ugly enough to wear the lillywhite shirt. Having said all that, apart from the last couple of seasons, Spurs have struggled for years agaisnt London opposition so maybe it's a good thing. However, we did the double over both the Shammers and Charlton this season, amassing 13 goals in the process, so I'm in two minds about that too. Frankly, if there's an omniscient, free thinking, benevolent football overseer in the sky I hope s/he hears my wish that next year Chelsea, man Yoo and, of course, A****l all go down. there'd be dancing in the streets north and south if that happened.

the goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-n0yVNjPrQ
report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/6602895.stm

Monday, 7 May 2007

No room at the top

The lift doors opened to reveal an elderly couple. Two smartly dressed people, unselfconsciously oozing wealth and poise. Wealth and poise mingled with the dirt and grime of the once smart elevator. Woise and drime became nothing more than woime. I’d seen enough woime in my life to know a failed portmanteau. The fact that they just smiled but didn’t move suggested that they weren’t rich as a consequence of higher end intellects. So I guess it was either years of inbreeding or they were the classiest elevator attendants in London, England. Immediately, something told me to be careful. I smiled at something and thanked her for the warning. The whole set up stank. Was the girl with me one of them? Was one of them with the girl? Was he one of them? Who could I trust? Should I have used whom? Why did I even sniff the set up in the first place?

We walked in and waited. Ten seconds seemed like twelve or thirteen. I reached over to the control panel: something wasn’t quite right- ‘Shift a little from the left,’ I hissed at the girl. The panel had four buttons. I undid them and noticed the controls ran from ground to two then skipped all the rest of the floors until eight. What was on floors three to seven? My confusion was tangible. My contusion was triangle. Her cardigan was tangerine.

‘You going to the top?’ he queried; the accent so clipped and nasal he was the epitome of British aristocracy. The monocle, top hat and silver topped cane kinda gave it away too. I said nothing.
‘Nothing,’ I repeated, determined to convince him I was merely a foreign visitor to London, England. ‘I up in lift to top see many please.’
‘Is it the restaurant or the viewing balcony you want?’ the woman asked in a voice dripping with the residue of a thousand silver spoons. Again I used subtle inflections in my voice and the merest hint of a change in posture to deliberately evoke a hint of the Middle East or South East Asia and, of course, use a valid split infinitive: ‘Vleiwing Bralcony prease,’ I muttered.

We emerged from the lift on eight. The couple drifted into the restaurant: they’d stepped into the rapidly flowing ornamental river. The air reeked of fine wine, good food, expensive perfume and regular beef stock. ‘Actually, I’m just looking for the toilet,’ I said to the girl, ‘there’s no way they’ll let us anywhere near the restaurant dressed like this.’ Such is the reality of life at the top of the Oxo tower.

Wolf Girl in Spoon Attack

Stories of children raised by wolves have abounded for millenia. It seems now, though, that Romulus and Remus are to be knocked off their pedestals as the greatest wolf children of them all. A family of wolf children have been plaguing the very modern city of London. Our photographer barely escaped with his ice cream intact yesterday when this snarling, hirsuite (yet somehow extremely foxy) wolf girl leapt at him in a bankside restaurant. With claws, sharpened teeth and a big shiny spoon she leapt at him shreiking 'Hei? Hei? Hei?' in a shockingly plaintive wail that would have engendered sympathy had not the salivating jaws confirmed her bloodthirsty intent. He fended her off with a combination of charm and a baton of french bread. Police were called but the wolf girl had already made her escape. This is the fifth such incident in as many days but the first to be captured on film.