Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Summer 5- Rot op!

By and large Dutch people speak better English than English speak people Dutch. This is useful when visiting Holland. I went twice over the summer; once for the Feyenoord tournament with my son (which Spurs won and thereby promised so much) and more recently on a bit of a road trip with my girl. I'm grateful that Holland is rammed with polyglots but still feel that everyone should avoid swearing in a language that is not their own. This extends to using swear words as signs in shops like this one below:English is still 'a la mode' (deliberate joke) in Europe. Signs everywhere have smatterings of English. Again this is OK, especially when you want to buy something. These people in Holland presumably don't quite get 'fuck' as a word and neither did the people in Paris a few years ago whose clothes shop window had massive signs announcing 'FUCK: The Sale'. It reminds me of the Japanese department store which aimed to appeal to Westerners by embracing Christmas celebrations. They did this by having a giant santa nailed to a cross at the front of the shop.

There's something about the complexity and subtelty of swearing that means as a second language speaker you're rarely going to get it right. A korean student in my class once declared that he was 'very wank' one morning. I still don't know what he meant; I didn't like to ask.

Summer 4- Money does grow...

I went for a walk over at Hardcastle Crags in the Calder Valley and along the way I came across this log. The close up shows that all the bumps are actually coins
There isn't much online by way of explanation but it seems that this is some kind of wish tree. Wikipedia have this to say about it. Some of the coins are very old and I wonder how it started. It's not like there's a sign or a hammer on a piece of string.

Summer 3-Jeux avec essence

At my girl's place of work they did this 'It's a knockout' thing as a sort of team building exercise. Amongst the apparent chaos there was a great sense of camaraderie. War paint and ripped T shirts defined team identity and the competitive spirit came through in the ingenious ways virtually everyone tried to cheat their way to victory. The last game involved a big water fight. One of the guys got a bit carried away and, grabbing what he thought was a canister of water, poured it over one of the bosses only to discover the canister was full of petrol. As the fumes wafted over the field and people hurriedly extinguished their cigarettes one question hung as pungently in the air as the stench of fuel: 'How could he not have known what was in that can?' The picture doesn't really do the event justice but I got there only after the big inflatable stuff had been deflated. My girl got a medal. That made me more proud than the multiple medals Team GB got in China though they should be pretty pleased with themselves too (without banging on about it and becoming BBC sports personalities and all that).

Summer 2

Just before the summer holidays the boy did this to his knee. He also did the other one and managed to do something nasty to his wrist too. Why is it that only kids graze their knees?

Summer 1

Since July I haven't been able to upload pictures from my phone to my PC. My PC is now lying dead on my floor but I have managed to upload my pictures to my laptop. This means that I have a backlog of interesting things to share/pollute the ether with (depending on your point of view).
Over the last few months I have see three films at the cinema. I saw 'In Bruges' which I loved so much that I went to Bruges last week. I can confirm that it is in Belgium. I also saw 'Get Smart' at the weekend with my boy. It clearly appeals to the teenage sense of humour. This is why I laughed a lot I think. The other film I saw was 'Sex and the City'.

You have to understand that I only went because my girl wanted to see it. I know it's a bit late for a film review but I still have residual angst that I need to get off my chest. The summer has been a good one but if there is a stain on it it's in the shape of the vacuous, pointless drivel that sold out all over the country. I have only ever walked out of the cinema for one film which was the utterly abysmal Fatal Attraction- Glenn Bloke was irritating me so much that it was either that or a frenzied assault on the screen with my own big knife. Sex and the City was about 500 times worse. Maybe I didn't get the subtlety but as far as I could make out it was an interminable catwalk salted and peppered with flimsy stereotypes of homosexuals and 40 somethings with too much money and too few brain cells. I had zero sympathy for any of the protagonists: when the main character's husband jilted her at the alter I had my only moment of enjoyment :" Yes," I thought (or maybe even said aloud) "That's about what you deserve."

At the end I asked my girl if she'd enjoyed it in the hope that my suffering would be ameliorated by her enjoyment. 'It was OK, I guess,' she said.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Plus ca change...

I have just gone to my dictionary and torn out the page with 'optimism' on it. I no longer want that word in my vocabulary. I have simultaneously turned the corner over on the page with 'pessimism' on it so that I might be sanguine much less frequently. I know that anyone that knows me will say that if I see myself like that I am also deluded but I'm talking specifically about football because... I was the one, on the way to the ground up at 'boro yesterday, predicting a 3-0 win for us. Pre-season (as usual) allowed me to build up those false hopes and make the stupid optimistic prediction. It's not so much the optimism itself that is the problem but the anguish that comes with having to fall so far back down to Earth once reality kicks in.

The despair is such that I can't be bothered to explain what the problems were but the Guardian do it very well actually . The fan comment at the bottom is pretty accurate too. It didn't help that we'd met up with a boro supporting mate before and after the game. Karma kicked in as it always seems to with footy. The first thing he said to me when we met up post match was: 'I've been looking forward to this since you took the piss after the Cardiff defeat in the FA Cup'

Incidentally, by removing 'optimism' I also manage to lose 'opprobrium' which can't be a bad thing. I will probably miss 'optical' and 'optician' though being as I'm already uber-shortsighted (as they say in Germany). Very interestingly though I also lose 'opposition'- I think that this is probably the only way that the less than mighty Spurs will come anywhere near fulfilling my (and my son's and my girl's and, in fact, most Spurs fans) fanciful expectations.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

random man

I saved those pictures of Prague in the post below ...simply right click and select ulozeck obrazit jako. Czech is easy man. In the My Documents folder there were these two pictures. Who is this man? I reckon he fancies himself a bit.

Not sure if this is the same bloke or if this is his very similar looking girl-boyfriend. I think they{re German.

Postcard from Prague

This is one place in Europe that I had never been to before. Of course I,d heard that it was beautiful and I{d seen it in film and in pictures. I didn{t realise quite how special it¿d be though. The bulk of the really ace stuff seems to have been built in the 14th century though my poorly worded chepeast guide to the Prague isn{t really that informative. We have been doing a lot of trolling around. It{s surprisingly steep and also surprisingly humid. The lack of an apostrophe on this czech keyboard is wearing me down a bit though.

..sorry can{t find brackets either...We have just come from here.. )prague castle=
and we are on our way here... -king charles bridge-
As you can see, we{re doing the proper tourist thing. It{s not nearly as cheap as I thought it{d be though.

Ok that{s enough of that....wish you were here etc...
Matt and the boy