Tuesday, 28 August 2007

French Connection

I should be working but, for one reason or another, I can't concentrate. Also, my PC keeps switching itself off. I took the cover off (just like I told my son not to do on his when a CD got stuck inside) and discovered that there's a loose connection. Fiddling with it, to my immense surprise, failed to remedy the situation. I now can't upload pictures or do all my usual domestic stuff. PC is in the hall. Knowing me as I do, I suspect it'll still be there come Christmas.

Rush Hour 3 is of course preposterous. It is also funny, especially if you're a teenage lad. The overt and covert messages woven throughout the film may make some people feel uneasy, especially the racial gags or the relationships the main and minor male characters have with women. One thing they have got right though is the ability for the French to amuse the English speaking world (however unintentionally). No doubt French suspicions of the US's foreign policy and their traditional enmity towards the English have set the foundations of the current trend towards Bete Noire status in the eyes of the Americans. The Iraq war and ever greater international policy divergence coupled with Blair's unflinching 'shoulder to shoulder with Bush' thing, seem to have persuaded those that determine American low culture content that Brit = good and French = wily and untrustworthy (if not altogether bad). The barometer is the villain in Hollywood. I predict more and more French baddies and ever increasing numbers of US/ British special relationships on screen. I spose the renaming of French fries just wasn't enough.

I love France though. Where else would you find a business called this:

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Number 1 to number 2

Typical that Robinson had to make a mess of things in the first half of the England game against Germany. Why do they still play them? They should have quit in 66. Or, at the very least after the 5-1 in Germany. The worry for me is that this confidence dent along with all the mess about Jol will upset Robbo's game on Sunday. It seems apposite to recall the last time we 'won' up there with this fabulous Mendes goal near then end of the match:

My superstition is such that I think that if I predict all the bad things on paper (or in the ether) then somehow they won't happen so:

  • Robbo will make a similar cock up to this or the England one , costing us the game
  • Man U will get a dodgy penalty
  • we will lose

Having said all that, I did predict 4-0 on Saturday. Better make sure S is wearing her lucky shirt and pants just to be on the safe side.

Being considerate

Question: if you knew you snored loudly, would you go camping?
If you answered 'Yes' then answer this: Would you pitch your tent so close to someone else's (even when there is loads of room) that they could hear the thick untrimmed hairs in your nostrils scraping against your top lip as you snorted and rasped your way through the night?

After two nights under canvas I was able to stop envying my 'sleep anywhere in any conditions' son and rest myself; even, at times, comforted by owl hoots, persistent rain on canvas and other noises of nature. Somehow, despite it also being a natural phenomenon (though clearly not helped by the slovenly porker's preference for food made only of pig, cake, pies and/or lard), the snoring did not soothe me. Shouting 'For F***'s Sake, Will you shut the F*** up' didn't stop him either though it may well have generated some justifiably angry inconsiderate accusations in my direction.

It's amazing how ferocious and violent my fantasies became during the night. A gentle chastising would not have satiated my 4am blood lust. I wanted to chop his bloody head off.

Anyway, Next morning we moved our tent. I lied to the snoring man's wife and said it was because we were getting flooded. I'm sure she already knew her husband snores though I swear his tent was so close to mine that he and I were actually physically closer than he and his wife that night.

I've been needing to get that off my chest since we got home. I feel so much better now.

My mate used to snore. He was given a device that was designed to adminsiter an electric shock when a snoring noise was detected. He tried it only to find he was being zapped all the time from when there was any noise, even before he went to sleep. When I snore, I wake myself up with a start and get annoyed with myself.

The Bill Nicholson Way

The following stats seem to back up Jol's case for an easing of the confidence crisis amongst the board. Second only to the great man himself is some achievement.

Bill Nicholson 1.65 points per league game
Martin Jol 1.58pts per game

Trouble is, when I saw who was next on this list I realised that the stats need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Most of the Spurs fans I know (who are old enough to remember) would take a Burkinshaw clone over Shreeves one or, God forbid, another kerb cr.... I mean Pleaty. I guess it all has to be contextualised. Burkinshaw's success was in the FA cup and Europe, not the league and Jol has a long way to go before reaching the same game tally as Bill Nick. Whatever the considerations, MJ is so far from the chopping and changing we have been through in the last 20 years and the points average is commendable. GIVE HIM A CHANCE.

Peter Shreeves 1.54pts per game
David Pleat 1.53pts per game
Keith Burkinshaw 1.45pts per game
Terry Venables 1.42pts per game
Doug Livermore 1.40pts per game
Gerry Francis 1.39pts per game
Christian Gross 1.308pts per game
George Graham 1.306pts per game
Terry Neill 1.29pts per game
Glenn Hoddle 1.27pts per game
Jacques Santini 1.18pts per game
Osvaldo Ardiles 1.15pts per game

It's funny how as a teenager I idolised Ossie and Hoddle. It's seems clear just from looking at this (and of course recalling the pain of watching their Spurs teams fumble about) that just because you can do something very well yourself, it doesn't mean you are automatically equipped to get other people to do it. In my job I see rather too many 'Ossies' and 'Glendas' standing in front of classes of students who deserve a Nicholson or a Jol.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Jolly good show

There's a lot of talk about replacing Martin Jol out there. This is a fairly good article (though I disagree with her conclusion) and some interesting follow up points on the discussion board. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/08/21/tottenhams_considered_kneejerk.html

It's looking bad for Martin. If I was him I'd tell Levy and his cronies where to stick it before this happens:

Equal Opportunities

Following a recent complaint to our head office that this blog is ethno, euro, anglo, hetero and spurso centric we are pleased to announce a guest speaker to redress some of these inbalances. Rather than having the usual bloke bang on about football we are delighted to welcome a foxy chick to bang on about football instead. Yey!

S writes:

‘…and Martin Jol loves me’ sang M so passionately and so loudly alongside 36,599 others leaving only 1 – myself. My reasons for not joining in with what Spurs fans apparently do best (according to my brother) – and chant to the top of my lungs are: I was overcome by shyness, I was in awe of the presence of Robinson, Bent and Keane (sadly no Berbatov, fortunate for M though as I had pre warned him that if I catch a glimpse of Berba on the bench he will be getting my number) and the fear of inhaling the dire smell that came out of this poor and, I’m pretty sure, ailing man- hope he’s been to see a Doctor. The sense of pride that went through me as I listened to M singing one chant after the other is one that I have never experienced before but hope to again soon and who knows I may even partake.

I have watched many a match at home, sat on the sofa, snacking, occasionally screaming at the telly but being at the ground itself is something else altogether. Firstly, the pitch is much greener, the players are much taller, Gardner is at least 2 feet taller than he looks on telly and the whole atmosphere, the buzz, the excitement, the adrenaline rush each time Spurs got the ball and were running up to the opposing team’s goal…aaah there is no one word that would best describe all of that. I recommend that everyone must put watching footie match live in a stadium on their ‘things to do before I die’ list. I can cross it off mine now.

I’m sure I don’t need to go into detail about the match itself and how we scored 2 minutes in, and then again at 6 minutes and then again at 14 mins and how the final score was 4 – 0 to Spurs because it would appear as though I am boasting. So I won’t.

My first visit to the Lane was fantastic! I couldn’t have asked for better company, a better crowd, a better team or a better result. Here’s hoping that we get to see many more matches ending in the same way, I shall of course be doing my part – wearing exactly the same clothes as I wore last Saturday as I’m sure that had a hand in the win somehow. COME ON YOU SPURS!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Results and how I felt

I will update this post throughout the season. It's mostly for me so I can keep track. When I look back over the last season I realise how quickly I forget not only the results but even which games I went to.

Sunderland away. Lost 0-1 - goal in third second of injury time injury time- watched in pub in London with S. As goal went in 'come on, we're going'. Irritability lasted on and off till Tuesday night...
Everton at home. Lost 1-3. Expectation levels high despite frightening injury list. A couple of minutes in and we're one down. Watched till half time in pub with son in Cumbria on a tiny screen. At half time when all goals had already been scored I said 'Come on, we're going'. Listening with that horrendous false hope to the second half on 5 live was prob worse than actually watching. Did a bit of that post match wondering about why I am so bothered. Concluded that it was resonance of neanderthal tribalistic instincts that I have no control over. So that's OK then.
Derby at home. Won 4-0. Should have been 5 or 6. We had a couple of good penalty calls denied and Routledge had the ball in the net and it was disallowed for offside- turns out that was bad decision. Now Man U have lost their third game that means we have a point more than them after three games. What the hell was I worried about? Viewed from the bit of the Park Lane end where you stand up all the time despite the best efforts of the stewards. Last time I was there , everyone stood up immediately after being forced to sit down with the inspired chant of 'Stand up, if you love stewards'.
Man United away... a good performance all round (esp. by Bale and Chimbonda) means I feel less fed up about this defeat than the other two. Of course we were robbed but what do you expect at Old Trafford
Fulham away. 3-3. Had to wait for match of the day to see the cataclysmic tactical hiccoughs and defensive blunders in this one. I followed the match whilst out by text and calls from my son and via the web browser on my mobile. At 3-1 up I had this sneaky suspicion that we'd blow it but still stomped around in the TV shop when waiting for confirmation of the draw. This morning at work one of my colleagues greeted me with "Good win at the weekend!" If he knew anything about Tottenham he'd know you can't take anything for granted unless you watch or listen right to the very end. By my calculations that's 3 points dropped in 1 and a half minutes. If matches were 89 mins long we'd be in a European spot. Still I spose on the plus side Bale and Kaboul (this means I agree in Arabic apparently) scored and Berbatov looked like he was getting back to his old self. Nolw only two weeks to wait for Les Arses. My confidence about that has diminished somewhat to say the least.
A*****L Home. Threw it away. Berba missed sitter. Bent could have equalised. Looks like Jol could be on his way now. Me and boy paid 39 quid to sit in probably the 4th and 5th worst seats in the ground to watch this. Why do we torture ourselves. Then we had to drive back to yorkshire. Then I had to watch it again on Football First then Match of the Day. Clearly I'm some sort of masochist.

Martin Jol loves me

I didn't write anything all week because I was on holiday not because I was agape in front of the telly suffering from shitty performance narcolepsy. Best mate will attest that one of the words I least favour is 'disappointed'. As a kid, having a parent disappointed in me and frowning felt just as humiliating as the times my youthful exuberance elicited a 'stop showing off'. When people have been disappointed with me in adulthood I have felt even more rubbish. Luckily no-one tells me to stop showing off these days (though one student recently complained that I spoke too loud in class). However, to say I was disappointed with the start Spurs made is something of an understatement. I could see that the defence was decimated but it was Berbatov's lacklustre showing and the timidity of our midfield that made me reach for the D word. For that I am sorry. Yesterday made up for it. My boy loved it, especially when he got the thumbs up from Robinson and my girl was buzzing 14 mins into a game that saw us three goals up. I explained that it was always like that at White Hart Lane. The emphatic win (let's ignore for a moment the fact that Derby were an absolute shower- disappointing even) and the atmosphere enabled her to tolerate the beery flatulence coming from a bloke nearby. I think he only let go when we scored so, unfortunately I guess, the Lane should be a whole lot less smelly in the forthcoming game against Les Arses and other big teams. My fingers will be crossed for a sulphurous stink so powerful that a 2 or 3 goal lead will be increased as Lehman fumbles the ball a few times in the way he did today against Blackburn.

Incidentally, all the talk in the press about Jol going may well be rooted in fact but you only had to listen to the crowd yesterday to know that the board and the fans don't, by and large, sing from the same hymn sheet. The board better get themselves some protection lest North London's leading mafia hitman wreaks his bloody but well reasoned and smiling revenge.

Cows II

I swear they have a sophisticated network of cow phones and some kind of Cow Intelligence Agency that has planted a tracking device somewhere on me or my car. Twice in one day our path was blocked by cows pretending not to notice us. No amount of honking could shift this one. I tried mooing out the window but it didn't move it. S/he looked closely at me, realised that I was speaking nonsense then looked bored again. The next day we got blocked by a whole herd crossing the road. I bet they'd been waiting for ages to step out just in time to delay me. I am not a big beef eater and most of my shoes are in fact canvas so their motives remain a mystery.


There's something about misfortune of certain football clubs that can make even the most generous spirited of person smirk. I am not one of those generous spirits so this view in an otherwise modern and vibrant Leeds city centre made me laugh out loud. In my mind, the forlorn woman in front of the shop just wanders up and down pretending to herself that the once mighty Leeds are still in the top flight. I have zero sympathy with them or their supporters I'm afraid. I shouldn't lump them all together but the racism of Leeds fans and the racist violence of players on and off the pitch in the not too distant past makes me appreciate the apparent karmic consequences. They're only on minus 9 points now in league one. If things continue to go so well, they could be challenging for the Premiership title again in 8-10 years.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

there's always someone worse off...

Have been reading the many rants on the various message boards about the new ticketing system at White Hart Lane. Writing the letter was strangely cathartic. I should have done it last week instead of shouting at people about it for three days (including a bloke I'd never met before at the Orient game. He'll be cursing the ticket office for putting him near me). This post and the replies show that I wasn't the only one to suffer and that some were a lot worse off than me. http://www.glory-glory.co.uk/blogs/dazzalondon/archive/2007/07/31/eticketting-what-a-farce.aspx

Buying Tickets

My letter to Spurs' Chairman. I wait for his reply more in hope than expectation.

Mr. D. Levy
Bill Nicholson Way
748 High RoadLondon N17 0AP

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

Dear Mr Levy

I am writing to you in the hope that this letter will actually reach your eyes and you will have the time (and inclination) to read to the end. I think it’s imperative that the man at the top hears why there are grumbles from the terraces about the new ticketing system. This isn’t typical moaning about prices; it is about the system and how it makes supporters feel less than valued by the club they have been loyal to all their lives. At the friendly at Orient on Wednesday, the problems with buying tickets seemed to be a more frequent topic of conversation amongst the supporters than speculation about who Jol will play up front or whether we will finally overcome ‘you know who’ this season. The only way I can give you some idea of the troubles I have had, and perhaps a rough estimate of the number of grey hairs I got in my frustration and eventual rage last Monday, is to tell you about what I went through on the 30th July.

At 9.15 am I logged on to the internet and cued up the Spurs site. I logged into the ticketing section and made sure I had my own, my son’s, my girlfriend’s and my mate’s membership details.

Like thousands of others (no doubt) at 9.28 I started refreshing the page hoping to get up the availability of Arsenal tickets.

30 minutes later: I am in and it appears tickets are available. I try to choose four in a row but there’s nothing anywhere in the ground. With the old system I could have chosen four seats roughly near to each other- this is important with my son who is only 13 and, indeed, for my girlfriend. I couldn’t risk being too far from either of them though I have no complaints about being a couple of rows back or a few seats away. I even tried the 70 pound seats even though this is pretty much out of my price range. You’ll see from my address that I have a bit of a petrol bill these days when I come to White Hart Lane. None of those seemed available. Then I found two and two not far from each other. I typed in three membership details and when I did the fourth it took me to the loading page. This page, by the way, has a ridiculous grammatical error/ typo on it that was there when I booked Derby tickets- I can’t believe it hasn’t been changed- it sort of underlines the shoddiness of the whole thing.

So…I wait for the bar to load. There’s no way I can come out and try again as the warning about losing your place is clear (and grammatical!). Of course I knew that the demand for Arsenal tickets would be high but by 11am I was getting very frustrated. I called my girlfriend who logged on to see if she could get in, just in case it was a problem with my PC. She struggled so I assumed it was volume of inquiries. I NEVER had these problems last season by the way.

At 11.30 I am appreciating the fact that I am not at work and can spare the time to do this. I wondered then and now what I will do when I am back at work. I can’t spare three hours on a Monday morning to buy tickets. I foolishly decided to try calling. I urge you to try calling the ticket office on ‘on sale’ day. You go through an odd selection process, get put in a queue, hold for 10 minutes then a recorded message comes on telling you that you’re to be cut off due to volume of calls. I would have held. It cost me a lot to hold but I didn’t get anywhere. This happened to me at least five times before I gave up with, if I recall correctly, the launch of my mobile across the room.

So I continue to wait and watch the loading bar which every so often goes near to the top then flicks back down to half way. 12.15: message comes up on screen: ‘your session has timed out; your basket has been cleared’. You can imagine my frustration.

By 12.30 I manage to find two individual tickets in section A (pretty much the worst part of the ground from a supporter’s viewpoint) but can’t get any more. So I have two tickets. I can go and so can my son. Judging by what some of the people told me at Orient last Wednesday, I should count myself lucky! But I can’t sit next to him and mate and girlfriend don’t get to go at all. It isn’t good enough.

To add insult to injury, I checked my loyalty points and find they are zero! Not even the Derby game this season is shown. No doubt I’ll have to spend ages sorting that out.

The biggest flaw (and I do know the justifications) is not being able to choose seats, especially when taking children to matches. Also the limitations of the technical side of the system are there for all to see. There is no excuse for this in this day and age. Demand is no longer a reason for an organisation of Spurs’ wealth and stature to justify an inadequate booking system.

Supporting your club is different to loyalty in virtually any other walk of life. If my mobile provider starts overcharging me I’ll switch. I’d even change my friends if they started getting on my nerves. But you and I know that (proper) fans will never do this with their club. It seems to me that this knowledge is being exploited at THFC.

I look forward to hearing your comments on this matter

Yours sincerely

Monday, 6 August 2007


There's something about graveyards that's always fascinated me. The older the grave or the more tragic the death it represents the more I am drawn in. We visited Heptonstall church to see both the ruins of the 13th Century church (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~todmordenandwalsden/heptonstall.htm ) and to see Sylvia Plath's grave.

Both new and old church can't fail to impress given the setting and views. My eyes, though, were drawn downward to the many headstones that now form a significant part of the ground. This one is one of dozens of 'Greenwoods' that populate the church . It's fascinating to see Greenwoods buried there who died in the 21st Century and others all the way back to the earliest one I spotted which was mid 17th. Burials spanning 5 centuries for what is likely to be the same family of Greenwoods says a lot about Heptonstall and rural life as well as shining something of a contrasting light in the way most of us live now.

Sylvia Plath's grave was surprisingly unkempt and forlorn. The name Plath Hughes remains though I understand that the Hughes part was repeatedly obliterated in the sixties by Plath fans (that seems too trite a word but anyway...) especially after Hughes second wife killed herself too. It at least prompted me to read some of her poems. I think the only intelligent thing I can say is that I'd need to re read them with a clear head to understand the way they are woven and to get to grips with more than a mere essence of meaning.

Just up the road though significantly harder to reach is the equally impressive Stoodley Pike which is a mid 19th century memorial to end of the Crimean war. It replaced a previous monument built to celebrate Napoleon's defeat in 1814. The original collapsed after it was struck by lightning which must have been a heck of a sight. (More info http://www.walkingenglishman.com/westyorkshire01.htm ) It's 100 foot high and from the ledge that you get to after feeling your way up unlit (and genuinely pitch dark) stairs just about affords a view of the Heptonstall church tower. In itself a memorial, the thing that I liked most was the carved graffiti. If the dates had been 1998 or 2005 then I'm sure visitors would gasp and tut tut about 'the youth of today' and how things were different in the past. Many of the carvings though are well over 50 years old. Some are ornately done and impressive in terms of the effort put in. This one inscribed as war broke out led me to wonder about the fate of the 'vandal'. In a similar vein, the thing that I recall most about Strasbourg Cathedral is the graffiti- some of that on the roof dates to the 18th century. In East London you can still see one or two 'G Davis is innocent' graffiti on rail bridges and the like. I'd argue these, like the inscriptions in Strasbourg and on Stoodley Pike, are already an important alternative window into the minds and society of our (sometimes still living) predecessors. I wonder whether any of the tags we see all over the place now will been seen in the same light by people in 50 years or so while they simultaneously berate the youth of 2057 for the disgusting and antisocial holographic graffiti found on the bonnets of most hover cars.