Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Quarterly Review

I was going to write something about how depressing the Fulham and (particularly) the West Brom games were but I looked at this video compilation and things didn't seem so bad anymore. Ask me again how I feel after the FA cup game against Wigan on Friday and Burnley in the Carling Cup semi next Tuesday. Nervous new year everyone!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


One thing I liked about the German market was the stall that sold giant heart shaped biscuits. They did a good job with the top two in the picture below. 'I love you' and 'I need you' seem more than appropriate things to say to the object of your affections whether it's your partner or even the biscuit itself. The bottom one though smacks of desperation. I can't help thinking it's something that was lost in translation. I can't for the life of me imagine a scenario where you're about to lose the one you love and, having previously amassed a range of biscuits with messages for all eventualities, rummage in the kitchen draw and with an anguished look present her with one that says 'Please stay with me'.
'Well I wasn't going to,' she says, 'but since you're giving me a biscuit...'

it reminded me of this Walker Brothers song.

Vinter Vunderland

They say that during the war people were encouraged to confront suspected fifth columnists and German parachutists with the phrase 'What's the weather like in Wimbledon?' If the response was something like 'Ze vether in vimbledon ist vunderbar!' then you had yourself a spy and could legitimately stab him with your pitchfork or sweep him to death with your broom handle made to look like a rifle.

It seems though that the crafty hun have had the last laugh by fleecing the whole of London (and I include my good friend Dame Judi Dench in that) at a glorified fun fair. The icing on the Christmas cake was their choice of 'Winter Wonderland' as the title of the event.

I have to say that the lights, the smell of bratwust & mulled wine and the waterside location did make it feel quite cosy if you were able to blot out the four zillion people, the surly German versions of sell-your-grandmother-for-a-pack-of-fags fairground types operating the rickety rides and ever-present 'kerrrching' of German cash registers. The big wheel, for example, looked lovely as you can see below. Unfortunately the queue stretched to the Embankment where it got enmeshed with the queue for the London Eye. They're still trying to untangle it.

The best thing was Grosse Irrgarten which, as well as being attractive by the sheer force of the romance of the German language used to name it, also had all those things you used to get at fairgrounds and places like Southend and Margate in the days before kids had to be bubble wrapped when playing with an inflatable hammer.

Somehow it seems they managed to avoid the usual H & S regs and it was absolutely brilliant. I went on with best mate's son. There was blood everywhere! Kids with heads tilted back to stem the flow, teenagers with their arms bent the wrong way and small girls blubbing like even smaller girls all made the £4 entry fee worth every penny(though it should be noted that best made paid). The mirror maze was the most lethal. I saw at least three kids run face first into plate glass. I took a tumble on the wheel thing that you have to run through but it was still worth the bruised hip and ignominy.

I read a short story in a science fiction anthology once about a guy who tests imports from a distrusted planet. He spends weeks looking at this intricate game looking to see if it formed a bomb or something. Meanwhile the innocuous board game that had no mechanical parts was deemed safe and released to the public. Little did he realise though that the mechanical toy was a distractor and the board game taught children how to lose all their money and generally do bad things to society, presumably so that it'd sweep the world and the people from the dodgy planet could take over. Well, my friend, look at the signs: economy in disarray and Hyde Park full of Germans. They tried it with guns but now it's much more insidious. You haf been varned.

Saturday, 20 December 2008


So I come down to the south so that I can see my mum and other assorted family members for my birthday. However, Strictly Bum Dancing is on. All night. My grandad was looking forward to it when I left his house. Do not disturb signs appeared on doors from Plymouth to somewhere further north than where I live.

'We just want to catch the final, sorry,' said mum. The bloody programme has been on since I got here and it's nearly Match of the Day time. Normally I would phone my girl but, guess what, she's watching Shitely Cum Dancing too.

Best mate phoned from his seasonal visit to his parents. He's bored and in bed already because his whole family is glued to spackly come drossing.

I don't understand how the whole nation can be glued to this and apparently the only two people it has passed by are me and best mate. No wonder we're friends. No-one else wants to talk to us because of the absence of key TV in our water cooler speak repertoire.

I think it's like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Well a bit like it.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

New Ground

Well that didn't take long. I'm looking forward to seeing this at the Fulham game. I'm a bit worried about the transport infrastructure to be honest. It's hard enough to park at the moment. Sometimes we dump the car up there at 11ish the go off and do the pub lunch thing. This helps us make a quick getaway to the north. We still get home very late and if it's a 4pm kick off on a Sunday then we don't get home till midnight which means that school the next day is tough for both me and the boy.
If City of Manchester stadium is anything to go by the car parking will be crap and they'll increase the restrictions in the whole area.
The train has always been a rubbish option and I can't see how they'll improve it to accommodate the extra 15-25,ooo people White Hart Lane will get.
I was reading the other day that unlike other football grounds White Hart Lane was never offcially named- it was just the name that caught on. Man City fans still sing about being from Maine Road. I hope we can follow their example and just insist on calling it WHL rather that the Pepsi Arena or whatever. After all, everyone still recognises that les Arses play at the Library.

Monday, 15 December 2008

All that effort...

...and the artist makes a fatal error with the design. This statue is in China apparently. (Don't tell Paul Gadd)

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The incredible shrinking striker

Poor Robbie Keane. Benitez was interviewed last night about the rumours that Keano would be coming back to the lane in January having been a monumental flop so far this season at 'pool. To say that Benitez was less than effusive in his assurnace that keane would stay would be a massive understatement.

I always enjoyed a bit of a josh at his expense with cheap gags about leprachauns and the like but judging by this picture he's actually turning into one. I'm sure he wasn't that short last year. Or maybe it's Benitez who is growing comensurate with Liverpool's success. If they win the league he'll be like the giant doughy man at the end of Ghostbusters. If you stare at the picture long enough it actually looks like he's expanding.

I'd welcome him back just so that I could do my crappy irish accent again and my son could wear his 'Keane' shirt.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Reds help blues

I have spent the last three days marking work. Each assessment takes about 40 mins or so to do and I have done 30. It doesn't sound like much at a rate of ten a day but, believe me, it takes it out of you. My wrist is stuck in a funny position, my back aches and I am now convinced that 90% of the trainees I work with get pleasure from deliberately ignoring basic instructions.

I was just finishing off the last of the typing this afternoon and was feeling strangely melancholic. I was expecting a surge of euphoria but it felt more like the feeling I get when I have a lie in. Disappointingly un-refreshing or energising. I listened to the footy on the radio while I did this and was buoyed by most of the results which were favourable to Spurs' still precarious position.

The Carling Cup semi draw to Burnley hadn't cheered me up though I think I'd have been sceptical of our chances even if by some quirk in the rules Man U had been booted out, Women's Institute XI had replaced them and we'd drawn them with the first leg at the Lane the same night that nice Bruce Forsyth was on the telly talking about jam.

The only result I didn't approve of was Les Arses jammy (I knew there was a WI link there somewhere) 1-0 over Wigan at the new library. However, listening to the reports it seems that the fickle so called supporters were booing their own players. Even when they'd won! They then went on the 606 talk in to justify their position. I started to feel a little cheered by this.

It got me thinking about how we get on players' backs at the lane. Last season Bent got a lot of stick and his nervousness showed. This season the whole crowd have been biting their nails every time the ball went anywhere near Gomez. This tension was obviously rubbing off on him but then a strange thing happened...

At some point opposing fans started to tease our big cry baby keeper and we went all defensive. 'We love you Gomez, we do..' started to be heard. No sooner had we got behind the man with the biggest and butteriest fingers in England (couldn't include Scotland in this for obvious reasons) started looking super confident, even getting a man of the match award! Then, even funnier, David James did his comedy pass out in the UEFA cup mid week and even more spotlights turn away.

Anyway, these thoughts and the cheery warm feeling I got from hearing Les Culs de Woolwich stressing themselves out made me realise that the secret to contentment and a return from the edge of the Abyss of Glumness was to look at some of my favourite photos:

Nayim from the half way line...

Iz no fair
" if you don't stop mucking about they'll beat us 5-1. Oh and smell my finger"

Heck, they didthis next one is the league table of noisy fans. Posted on the 606 message board by an arse**l fan!
Edward munch night in a south London pub

Friday, 5 December 2008

Eid al-Adha

It took me while to understand how there could be two eids; and so close together! When I discovered that eid just means 'festival' or 'celebration' it made more sense too. To non Muslims it seems counter intuitive that the eid that happens on Monday(al-Adha) is often called 'big' eid (and, in fact, this is how it's commonly known in a lot of south Asia and north Africa) when the one most people in the UK are familiar with is the al-Fitr (little eid). The 'bigness' has as much (I think) to do with the length of the event as to the meaning behind the celebration. al-Adha lasts up to four days and the other, al-Fitr (marking end of fasting in Ramadan) lasts up to three. If my students attendance is anything to go by, there are pockets of Muslims in Bradford who celebrate even bigger eids lasting about two weeks on both occasions.

Al-Ahda is the sacrifice celebration where Ibrahim's devotion was tested by his willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. This parallels the Judeo-Christian story of Abraham and Isaac. In both, of course, the son is saved though lambs all over the world let out a collective whimper.
Along with the reminder that this very important event is rooted in the same story shared by the other monotheistic faiths is the importance of the principle of sharing of the slaughtered lamb with family, friends, the poor, Muslims and non-Muslims. At the heart of Christmas there still sits that altruistic ethos, sometimes lost amongst the cheesy songs, coloured lights and excess spending but, all the same, the focal point of the celebration. Likewise, the whole point of eid can be subsumed by the new clothes and, inexplicably (in Tower Hamlets at least), the urge to hire an expensive car and hang out of the window getting all patriotic.

Anyway,I'm not sure what my point is but I would, though, like to wish everyone:

Thursday, 4 December 2008


..I got my Internet back. I can now do all that academic research again. I caught a bit of women's under 21 world cup the other night while flicking through the sports channels. It was Germany versus Brazil and I saw two goals. The first was the kind of goalie fumble that enables people to take the piss out of the women's game but, to be honest, Gomez has done a lot worse at Spurs this season. The German equalizer was well taken and worked though. Having said that, it didn't sustain my interest enough to watch more or even find out who won. In fact, the only reason I watched for more than a few minutes is because of this woman: Leah. And, before I get it in the neck, it's the throw that captivated me; nothing else!

Rory Delap eat your heart out.