|Posted by alan merson on December 27, 2010 at 12:17 PM||comments (0)|
Monday December 27th @ 6pm:
Christmas Bank Holiday................the official day off work granted to those with a job when Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall on a weekend, as they have this year; but what exactly are the majority of people celebrating?
OK, Ok; I know that Christmas is the Mass of Christ ~ the celebration of the Christian's Son of God, the product of a virgin birth who was sent by God to offer mankind on earth salvation and that it all dates back over two thousand years; but do you realise it has all been said and done before?
The birth and life story of Jesus of Nazareth more or less mirrors the story of Attis of Phrygia born to the Virgin Nana in a cult that began around 1,200 BC when reputedly the demon Agdistis (who bore both male and female physical characteristics) suffered the loss of his male organ when the Greek Gods ordered it to be cut off and cast away. It grew into an almond tree where it was found by Nana (the daughter of the River God Sangarius) who then picked an almond and clasped it to her breast causing her to fall pregnant. The baby who was born was then caste away by the mother and brought up by a he-goat, he developed long haired beauty of such proportions that Agdistis who by now had morphosised as Cybele who then fell in love with him.
Disapproving of such a romance, the mother of Attis then ordered him wed to the daughter of King Midas but such was Attis' torment when Cybele appeared to him as her transendational image he cut off his own genitals. The story is a long and complicated one that ends in the rebirth of Attis as a tree on March 25th ~ the Christian story of Jesus with it's tales of crucifixion and resurrection of course exactly mirrors that also, Julian The Apostate, records in his account of the story how the cult of Attis spread from Anatolia (now Turkey) through Greece to Rome and remember too, it was at the height of the Winter Solstice that the Romans were celebrating the birth of Attis.
The Romans were also celebrating Saturnalia at this time of year in a ceremony that dated back to 217 BC as a means of raising public moral following defeat in battle to the Carthgenians and this contained all the treats and trimmings of present day Christmas with the exchanging of gifts, feasting and general merry making. A festival known as Brumalia was also celebrated by the all powerful Romans which ended on December 25th and many similar pagan observances of the ending of the ever shortening daylight hours and the onset of longer days and hence a foreseable end to the periods of animal death and crop non production occured all over the world from Japan (Ametarasu) to Scandinavia (Beiwe) to Pakistan (Chawmos) leading one to the only sensible conclusion that the Christians who only started documenting the life of Jesus forty years or more after his death were simply enjoying their version of events in the long catalogue of Man and his God at a time that was convenient to the all conquering and dominant Roman Empire.
Whatever your belief, whoever your God is; the mid winter solstice is a period of feasting and present giving and has been way back in the mists of time well before the coming of Christ.
|Posted by alan merson on November 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM||comments (0)|
Thursday, November 11th @ 3pm:
It's Armistice Day today and I am left wondering just why, for a nation that seems to be constantly at war with some other nation or other; we fail to recognise the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month in the manner that France and Belgium do.
Am I not right in thinking that over there they mark this evocative day by closing down business, education and trade for the day as a mark of their extreme respect for all the pain, suffering, and death caused by the two World Wars? Maybe I am wrong and it is no longer the custom, but it certainly was when I was in those parts a quarter of a century ago ~ and so it should be. If we cannot help ourselves but to virtually forget and continue to chase the dollar at times like this then in my opinion there is a lot lost in our society that once was so valued.
I don't think anyone who has not visited the areas of Flanders in Northern France and Belgium and seen for themselves the ossuaries and cemetries that stretch miles into the distance just how much death and destruction waged around the heads of the inhabitants there twice during the last century.
I well remember cycling around in the hinterland behind Calais and Dunkerque and traversing the Franco-Belgian border, and seeing for myself just what a legacy remains in those pristine cemetries so beautifully and dutifully kept and maintained in honour of the dead.
Even more thought provoking are the ossuaries and one such place I visited was the one atop The Kemmelburg in Belgium (not so far from Paschendale and Ypres) where the collective bones and other remains of thousands of dismembered and totally unidentifiable victims of the First World War exchange of shells accross the Western Front were gathered up and given revered asylum ~ enemy and comrade alike; all stored together.
On the way I remember ascending the steep cobbled climb into the market square of Cassel, a town that was fought over for four years and by the end of which the two warring sides ahd hardly lost or gained an inch. Indeed I read somewhere that it was estimated that a body fell for every centimeter of the Maginot Line, so futile was the wholesale slaughter of the youth of this continent.
Anyway, view some of the images I have gathered from that area and stored in Jelly's Images ~ 2 today.
|Posted by alan merson on October 31, 2010 at 4:08 PM||comments (0)|
Saturday, October 23rd @ midnight:
This a tale of two pubs, super fast trains and a bunch of (oldish) guys:
I haven't been doing enough of this for ages, but today was like a trip back in time for me, a magical day out and a bloody good laugh.
Take six or seven middle aged pals, meet at St Pancras amongst the hordes of French, American and Japanese tourists toing and froing from Eurostar; and you have a sense of excitement and anticipation even before the train has pulled out of the station.
..................and what a train! The Javelin, all purple and lilac and shaped like Concord; Britain's fastest form of ground travel propels you out of the famous Barlow Shed and into the Caledonian Tunnel in the batting of an eyelid as it vrooms out of the stationj like a racing car. Seven minutes and seven miles later and it's at Stratford International right beneath the Olympic Park and a further five minutes from there, and we're out of London tearing along beside the A13 and over the Rainham Marshes before diving under the Thames and gliding into Ebbsfleet International ~ barely twenty five minutes since we left St Pancras!
Just as we're debating how the bogey must cope with the change of guage from high speed to standard (in the event it doesn't have to, the guages are the same and it's the transition from overhead to third rail power that takes a little time) we surmise that there must now be a man walking in front of the train with a red flag as we slowley close in on our destination, accross the spectacular Medway by Rochester Castle and then smoothly slide into Gillingham Station.
Yes, Gillingham is our destination purely because this is where Torquay United ~ our football team are playing today; and as opposed to us having to travel miles to see them; it is almost as if they are coming to see us for a change!
Destination now is the Frog and Toad, owned by our good friend and fellow Torquay fan John Bryce; tucked in amongst the chimney pots just a five minute walk from the station down behind the main street. A fine selection of proper beers and ales, cider and complimentary barbecue with roaring log fire; and the inevitable company of veteran West Country journalist Dave Thomas who can sniff out a good cider like a good 'un! Dave's in town to report on the match for his local evening paper, The Herald Express; and to summarise for BBC Radio Devon who provide ball by ball commentary of all of United's games whether at home at Plainmoor, or on the road wherever that might take them.
Tom (Longeatongull) joins us and we carry on the usual lunchtime piss taking and pantomime on the dart board that would have those who prefer a "Little House on the Prairie" lifestyle raising their hands in shock/horror and we soon get a good number of Capital Gulls (or CGs as we prefer to be called)...............Warrick and Paul Butler, Ross Kaniuk, Ric Caveney and friends, myself, The Barnet One (don't ask!) Capitalgull, Ian Preston, Crooky, Kipper and his Port Vale supporting partner Vanessa, and Ealinggull.........a motley crew of journalists, professional people, a police officer and other assorted artisans who all share a common love amidst our very different life styles. A good day out and a determination not to let it be ruined by ninety minutes of rubbish! Not that we anticipate that being the case with our side this season ~ they're actually pretty good at the moment considering the near half century of misery most of us have been subjected to by them.
Urine extracted, bellies full and brains addled, we set off for Priestfield Stadium ~ one of the better League 2 venues ~ and whilst Kipper, Vanessa and I disapper iinto the luxurious main stand, the "Boys" rough it on the open bank of seats reserved for travelling supporters and soon to be soaked by rain and whipped cold by wind.....................oh how we chuckled into our warm coats!
A few more less common sense challenged Gulls fans gathered around us to and I must Say Gills' stadium is very good these days compared with the basic bog standard level of comfort it used to offer, save for the away accomodation which looks shabby and overpriced. .....................even the visting team coach gets locked away amidst the safety of an under stand garage right next to the dressing rooms and I'm told there is even a private cinema and hydrotherapy pool for their own players to relax in after the game.
As the players file past us into the corner entrance tunnel to the dressing rooms, we notice that the two opposing managers do not follow them; so we assume they have their own private little entrance/exit adjacent to the technical areas on the half way line away from any possible ire from the fans in the nearby seats. Theyr'e a good crowd at Gillingham, none of your "sort it out manager" types who seemingly only come to inflict regular misery on the unfortunate bosses in the dug outs; and they don't get on the player's backs either. This is proper lower division football in a proper sized ground in a proper working class town with a long standing footballing heritage and an enthusiasm for the game ~ it's got a good feel this place for those who like their football to retain a bit of the traditional matchday atmosphere.
Final whistle blown, a 1-1 draw secured with a last gasp 95th minute equaliser; and it's off to another pub to reconvene and rendezvous with those soaking wet and frozen heroes of the open bank, so it's off to The Britannia ~ a proper pub with proper middle aged geezers effing and chuffing as they discuss the match to the accompanying pub rock music belting out from the jukebox. We've sunk a few bevvies by now, and we feel the need to feed again for the journey back to town so we pile into an adjacent chippy for chips and curry suce for the journey home. A late equalising goal like that leaves you feeling euphoric almost as if you've won!
I'm home now, the kids have gone to bed and I've got a silly grin on my face. I've been on and off the old Thunderpot three or four times already and I don't know whether it was the eight pints of real ale or the curry sauce; but do I care? do I buggery ~ we've had a cracking day out and and taking a look at all those pot bellied old geezers today I don't feel so bad about myself any more!
This article illustrated in pics 31~36 in Jelly's Images ~ 2
|Posted by alan merson on August 16, 2010 at 6:19 PM||comments (0)|
Monday, August 16th,2010 @ midnight:
Life is certainly ultra stressfull at the moment and I feel like I am the target of a campaign to destroy me and my family life with the kids I love so much. Becoming a "father again" in my fifties was not a decision I took lightly and the experience I have under my belt from my younger life; and having two grown up daughters in their thirties has taught me to never lose sight of the importance of my young ones to me nor of me to them.
That said, losing my health, my income from self employed driving and having to live on benefit has brought huge pressures to a head in the family home to the extent that I am informed that I am not wanted here any longer and should seek to live elsewhere......................elsewhere? This is my home, these are my kids and I am their father. Outside parties seem only too pleased and too willing to put their oar in and join in the general condemnation of my children's father and are actively engaging in joining that general shove to get me to push off. I hope they feel very proud of themselves and I only wish they had half the perception they believe they do have and could hear and feel the heartbreak they are inflicting on my kids, let alone me.
I managed to get Anthony and Olivia away for a night's camping last Friday ~ nothing grand I admit, but a breath of fresh air for them and I ~ but upsettingly for them; Calvin was not allowed to come as well on such an "uncomfortable experience":roll:
Chele, my eldest daughter; her husband Sam and three kids, Paige (13), Max (9) and Mia (4) were staying at a Caravan Club site in rural Surrey as a base for experiencing the various theme parks just outside London ~ Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland......................something Anthony and Olivia have not experienced since their trip to Euro Disney three years ago. However they were more than happy to join dad for a train trip out into the countryside and the chance to spend quality time with an important part of their family which is all too difficult to arrange these days.
So it was that we walked off to Upper Holloway Station, with our mighty kit bag containing a change or two of under wear and our sleeping bags, binoculars (that never got used), camera and water proofs and the attitude that nothing was going to stop us enjoying ourselves for a couple of days at least...............not even the forecast inclement weather.
Train travel always heightens the senses and lends a sense of occasion as far as I'm concerned and even sitting on the deserted platform of an inner city station nestling below street level cannot dilute the anticipation . The silence is so overwhelming one can even hear the digital clock as it flips over, but eventually our two unit mode of transport rumbles in ready to take us just the one stop for our first of three changes in this two and a half hour journey. Gospel Oak is the end of the diesel powered Barking - Gospel Oak line that traverses North London and so we switch to the adjacent electric and super modern service that runs from Stratford to Richmond, but only as far as Wilesden Junction for us; and this is but a fifteen minute ride.
What a mish mash of different lines and dual level interchange is Willesden Junction, and set amidst surely the ugliest of semi industrial and scrap metal landscapes imagineable! Not a great place to wait ten minutes for a train and I can sense that Olivia is becoming a bit unsettled with her constant whistful look and repetitive enquiries of what time will our last train be departing from Clapham Junction.......................I can see she is imagining missing that train and getting stuck on one of those bleak platforms. To add to her frustration another three or four trains need to pull in and depart before the service to "The Junction" is due and this only adds to her anxiety.
However, pull in it eventually does and we are once again on our smooth and near silent glide accross Wormwood Scrubs, down past Olympia and Stamford Bride and over the River Thames into the eighteen platform hell hole that is Clapham Junction and now we actually have to run from platform 1 to 11 to catch our last connection ~ you couldn't make this up could you!
Flopping into our seats, I can now see the smile return to her face whilst all Anthony has wanted to do on the journey so far is to bury himself into a newspaper like some seasoned commuter; bless him. Now Oli's worried that I don't know how many stops it is to Horsley Station and reckons that if I don't know I will miss it and we'll end up "getting horribly lost" I tell her to relax and we'll know because stations have names on the platform and trains have a "crawler" information in the carriage and a computerised announcer as well.......................oh Gawd, I shouldn't have told her it is a computerised voice, now she wants to know who it is.
I think my little princess has had quite enough when we alight at our deserted and leafy destination and as we walk down the lane and onto the road that leads to the camp site she is immediately uplifted at the sight of her big sister and neice Mia in the distance waving furiously and beaming from ear to ear at the sight of us making our way towards them.
Sam and the older ones are at Thorpe Park for the day whilst Chele and her youngest are only too pleased to stay on camp and chill in the lovely surroundings of lake, rustling trees and neighbouring horses in the fields beyond....................... a true rural idyl in the heart of stockbroker Surrey!
Chele's tent is just awesome and more akin to Colonel Gadaffi's bedouin contraption he takes on presidential visits abroad and the one he wanted to camp out on the White House lawn in. Four bedrooms, spacious and perfectly watertight. Tonight it's going to have to be!
Sam and the others are soon back and a nice spaghetti bolognese is soon on the cooking range, a couple of bottles of Merlot are opened and we all sit down to the very best of outdoor eating in the late afternoon sunshine with a few ominous black clouds gathering on the horizon.
My kids are soon at ease and at home in their new surroundings. they've never camped before and this is such an eye opener for them and they are simply loving it. Going to bed is such a novelty, that in the circumstances getting them off to sleep tonight will be a piece of cake and Olivia snuggles down in her new sleeping bag on the pump up double mattress safe in the knowledge that Dad will join her in the little "bedroom" just a thin partition away from her noisy brother and nephew ~ both nine years old and both (of course) older than her. Boys' noise soon gives way to frantic clicking of consuls as uncle and nephew live out rheir cyber phantasies........................Max on some scarcely believable glactical war and Anthony playing as usual on his FIFA 10 and givning Man Utd a good hiding at Torquay United's humble little ground ~ that's my boy!
There's a promised meteor shower tonight, but I know we aren't going to see it in the cloudy and rainy skies over South East England............................a shame really as I couldn't think of a better place to be away from all the light pollution of the city in which to view this phenominum in all it's glory, and my frustration is complete when I read the next day's news and see pictures of the event taken over Stonehenge, barely sixty miles to the west from where we are located.
Saturday dawns wet and windy, but we soon vow to beat the weather and enjoy a nice bacon omelette for breakfast and before we know it the kids are all off whooping and running outside without a care in the world and as if to reward them the sun breaks through and all is well with the world. My health problem kicks in with a vengeance and I have to lay down and rest of an hour or so. My two are well used to that by now, but little Mia looks a tad concerned, but Auntie Oli tells her it's alright "Daddy is just being old again" ~ that's OK then!
Sam and I decide to do a bit of discovery of the local area and seek out the old canal of the Weybridge Navigation which we know runs nearby and as I know of a good pub sitting on it, we decide to head for the village of Send. Anthony and Olivia reckon they had their fill of canals last week so opt to stay on site with Chele and Paige and so it's just Sam and I plus Max and Mia together with her toy tiger who jump into the jeep for the short drive to the waterside.
The Weybridge Navigation is a veritable back water dribbling along in semi dereliction as unhurried as any waterway could be and all the more beautiful for it. The only frenetic activity we get up to is when Mia drops her "Tiger Teddy" into the water but it hardly threatens to get swept away and has to endure the humiliation of being dumped on the doorstep of the New Inn whilst we enjoy a swift beer and softies for the kids in the afternoon sunshine of the beer garden.
Back at camp and it's fish and chips for dinner from the visiting mobile chippy...................pity they didn't adverise the ninety minute wait for our order as well as they advertised their presence on site, but never mind it was a fabulous meal and just the thing to fortify me and the kids for our evening return to London and real life once again. A real life that we do not know the outcome of, and which none of us is really looking forward to.
Olivia was hugley brave on the way home as she suffered a really bad attack of stomach discomfort, and I was left wondering just what effect all this uncertainty is having on her. Little Calvin was so excited to see us, he never stopped hopping about and chattering in his own little language, hugging and kissing us until sleep claimed him. What a shame mum couldn't even be bothered to listen to what her two excited offspring had to tell her, she was off to bed and we were keeping her up.
We'd had a great time, if all too short; and without our Little Man. It would have been so much better if only he had been there to share it with us.
Pics of our holiday are the latest additions to Jelly's Images ~ 1 (pics 252-277)
|Posted by alan merson on August 9, 2010 at 3:02 PM||comments (0)|
Monday, August 9th, 2010 @ 8pm:
Bijou went away to Manchester with Calvin for a few days last week leaving Anthony and Olivia at home with Dad. When they were tucked up in bed, I found this in Anthony's lap top diary....................
"I really miss my mum and my baby brother Calvin. They are too[sic] of the closiest things in my heart. Now i am stuck at home with my sister and dad. They're close to my pounding heart as well. My mum went to manchester and i bet when she comes back she'll be talking like she's from island [that's Ireland!] When she left us i started cry my eyes out on belquiny [balcony] through the railings and i waved goodbye.
from anthony dengo. your football star xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
|Posted by alan merson on August 5, 2010 at 5:49 PM||comments (0)|
Thursday August 5th, 2010 @ 11.45pm:
About time to kick start this blog back into life, having taken a "sabatical" ever since The World Cup ended on July 11th. I've been off work for the best part of four months now and although going through a stressfull time with the Dept For Work & Pensions' pure bloody awkwardness and all the anciliary problems they are causing my family and I with their intransigence; I have settled into the life of being a "house husband" and full time father to baby Calvin, and now the school holidays are here; to Olivia and Anthony as well.
However,Calvin's been taken off to Manchester by his mum for the dubious pleasures of a family funeral, so Olivia, Anthony and I have the place to ourselves for a "long weekend" during which we can kick off our shoes, chill out; and do what ever we please until Mum comes rampaging home on our cases again so we had ruddy well make sure the place is spic and span when that key does turn in the lock!
No sooner were Bijou and Calvin out of the door heading for Euston and the 11 o'clock train, than we were hot footing it to the number 91 bus stop and a ten minute ride down the Cally to Thornhill Bridge and a midday rendezvous with my good mate Mark and his partner Vanessa with the sole aim of a long and leisurely meander along the canal tow path to wherever we managed to get to in three hours and then see what we would see.
I just love it down on that tow path, you really get to see London from a different perspective ~ a sort of peak through the open back door of life and a root around the arse end of our glamorous city. Another name for Thornhill Bridge however is Battle Bridge so named because that is where the Battle of London was fought between England's heroin Boadicea and the Roman Army way back when......................even before Lonnie Donegan was born I believe! It was one of a hat trick of victories over the sandal wearing Latinos (Colchester and St Albans being the others) before the old Queen met her untimely end somewhere up the A5 just outsdie Hinckley if my knowledge of British history serves me correctly. Anyway, it is a sobering experience to realise that beneath all the mighty excavations of Victorian railway and canal engineers lay the assorted bones and severed limbs of countless brave soldiers who fought to the death; and even more sobering to realise that there is not one piece of recognition of the fact. Perhaps when the re-generation of The Railway Lands as KX has been dubbed is complete, someone might have the decency to move that famous statue of Boadicea and her two children clinging grimley to their war chariot at the corner of The Victoria Embankment and Westminster Bridge down in posh tourist London by Big Ben to where it ruddy well should be.
Back to the canal then...........................just past all the redevelopment, well amidst it actually; lays Camley Street Nature reserve and I really hope it survives the developer's swathe being cut through all this exceedingly atmospheric and interesting seediness and urban decay that appears to be in it's last days of existence now as refurbishment of some old bonded wharehouses and new glass and steel construction goes on all around the neighbouring Eurostar terminus at St Pancras. What a wonderful juxtaposition is created when a Paris bound train departs over the railway bridges that look down over the shanty town look of St Pancras Basin with it's cute little gardens, narrow boats, house boats and chalets..............runner beans and geraniums; and the still and peace disturbed only by the winding in of fishing lines from the tow path anglers. Just over the back, and out of sight; is London's oldest church by far.......................the medievel and formerly wooden constructed but now infilled with stone Old Church of St Pancras and it's neighbouring red brick Gothic Victorian Coroners Court.
With just one lock between St Pancras and Camden Town, there is ample evidence of the flatness of this stretch of the city as it nestles beneath the sweep down from Hampstead Heath and Highgate and the eccentricities of Camden soon come into view and with it noise, the all pervasive smell of cooking and the riotous colours of the market and it's huge crowds of pleasure seeking and hedonistic tourists and no little amount of local employees all out to lunch on such a fine afternoon and in reality the simply vast array of al fresco eating options could hardly be bettered in the whole world as Oli's first priority is somewhere to wee and inevitably queue up for the pleasure of doing so. That done we manage to get our hands on four quid's worth of Thai chicken, fried rice and noodles with which to sustain Dad and Two kids and Mark and Vanessa follow suite and we perch on a wall beneath the old Gilbeys Gin distilery eating our food and knocking off a cider or two.
Now for some long lost reason, Mark has always been referred to as "Kipper" in my fraternity of old Devon boys now living in the Metropolis, and Kipper he will be referrred to from now on in this blog.
Faces stuffed and bladders relieved, we stroll on through posh Primrose Hill where there is clear evidence of The Millionairatti dwelling on the waterside now and very soon we are in Regents Park and staring at the Billionaires' residences of those Faux Nash mansions that abut the Grand Central Mosque and Winfield House, the residency of the Ambassador of the USA and where all the American Presidents and past Presidents hunker down for the night when visiting London. Old George Bush must have shit himself when he looked out of his bedroom window and saw the miniaret of that mosque staring at him during his confrontation with Saddam Hussein!
Another tunnel leads us then into Little Venice, truly now the very upmarket arm of the Grand Union, and here especially the class of water vessel rises spectacularly with even river cruisers moored alongside traditional working narrow boats that obviously ply the leisure trade now betweeen The Midlands and the capital rather than hauling coal, steel and other commodities for industries that have long since died and been confined to history. There's even a magnificent Thames Barge moored here in the beauty of Rembrandt Gardens a veritable oasis of peace and tranquility repslendent in the bright red colours of geraniums and the delicate blues of hydrangeas whilst thundering above is the elevated section of The Westway as it stretches out to White City, Acton and beyond.
Our walk is now coming to an end for today as we venture into the modernity of Sheldon Square and the Paddington Basin amongst the rear of the famous St Marys Hospital and beside the wondrous iron canopy of Brunel's Paddington Station the termini of all termini ~ for the Great Western Railway..................God's Wonderful Railway no less and starting out point for all destinations west as far as Lands End and Ireland, The Welsh Marches and even Birmingham. A fantastic location for The Heathrow Express for those not content with limiting their travelling to the British Isles.
Whilst Kipper and his good lady disappear into the bowels of the earth and the Bakerloo Line and their South London home, the kids and I wait for a number 27 ~ the very first bus I ever drove in London all those years ago ~ and an interchange with the numer 29 Bendy Bus that will get us home from magnificent Greater London House; that ediface of Art Deco construction in Mornington Crescent as the Carrera Cigarette Factory when it was built but now home to countless public relations and media companies who utilise it's vast interior for their offices. Outside, nothing has changed since it was churning out "Cancer Sticks" and the Egyptian facade is a joy to behold complete with wonderful and a pair of gigantic black Egyptian cats standing sentinel aside the white marble flight of steps up from street level.
There are various references to points of interest along this walk throughout the Jelly's Images in the Photo Gallery and I'll be adding a lot more over the next few days (and would have tonight but for mislaying the USB lead for my camera and PC!)
They've been uploaded now ~ 24 hours late!
Pics 218-251 of The Jelly's Images
|Posted by alan merson on July 11, 2010 at 5:57 PM||comments (0)|
Sunday, June 11th, 2010 @ 11pm:
So it's Spain. Spain the leading purveyors of the beautiful game. Spain the European Champions and Spain who stuck to their beliefs in the face of a hail of thuggery, petulance, cynicism and a cry baby refusal to accept that they were beaten by the better side as Holland betrayed the wonderful heritage they inherited from past generations of talented and hugely entertaining national teams.
So the Seven Sisters Road finished the World Cup beneath a brightly lit night sky as the local Spaniards treated us to a firework display the like of which hasn't been seen around here for ages and the thunderous booming of the fire crackers and blaring car horns only added to the sense of drama.
It's been a memorable World Cup and a significant one. South Africa has proved it's ability once more to put one highly successful World sporting event and it's been a relief, with the event held so far away from Europe that as in Asia there has been such insignificent trouble that the the whole month has been an absolute joy.
I hope you've enjoyed my World Cup blogs and shared my utter enjoyment of a fabulous tournament.
Well done FIFA, well done South Africa and Viva L'Espana!
|Posted by alan merson on July 7, 2010 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
Tuesday, July 7th, 2010 @ 10.15pm:
So there will be a new name on the world Cup when the final is decided on Sunday evening as neither Spain or Holland has ever won the trophy before. Indeed Spain have never progressed beyond the quarter final stages before!
Everybody seems to be lauding Spain ~ European Champions for the first ever time too in 2008, and now poised to reap the rewards of a two decade long in depth re-appraisal of their domestic game which for so long displayed all the flaws and frustrations of the current English game with the richest clubs in Europe foregoing any real interest in the national team in preference to a hell for leather quest for European club glory. These days there are twenty thousand youth coaches in a country with a smaller population than England by a ratio of some 5:4, in England we boast thusands of newly qualified youth coaches but we are playing catch up on a grand scale. In 2008 we had just 2,769 EUFA Pro, A or B licensed coaches compared with almost 35,000 in Germany, 30,000 in Italy and 24,000 in Spain. We are still miles behind and we are still hamstrung by the lack of respect and lack of gravitas the position of coach to the very youngest of players holds...........................in short, many see coaching kids merely as a stepping stone to "something more important", yet what is more important; teaching a child to walk or teaching a child to run? If you can't walk then you can't even think about running is my philosophy and in my humble opinion the same applies to coaching kids. You need the best coaches in at the very beginning.
That is the Spanish ethos and we can't really argue with them from our lowly position in the world of present day football and their highly exalted one can we!
|Posted by alan merson on July 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM||comments (0)|
Sunday, July 4th, 2010 @ 10.30pm:
.....................and so the departures go on, now the mighty Brazil are followed by overated Argentina who justified many of the suspicians that they were not so much coached by Diego Maradona as cheer led. Once they came up against a game plan that recognised their strengths and was set out to nullify them and attack their weaknesses, they were blown away ~ 4-0 just like England before them by the rapidly maturing Germans.
Will Maradona go the same way as Dunga of Brazil and bite the bullet? Well my guess is that he will, but I hope the same thing doesn't happen to his countryman Gerardo Martino who has performed a near miracle in getting little Paraguay to the quarter final and one that they only lost to a loan Spanish goal near to the final whistle.
It's significant that the South American success this World Cup has come from two small nations ~ Uruguay and Paraguay who number barely ten million citizens between them and who see virtually all of their leading players leave their countries to earn a living abroad. Just like Holland in fact, and indeed this might just be the World Cup that sees them finally achieve their dream of ruling the world..
|Posted by alan merson on July 2, 2010 at 5:52 PM||comments (0)|
Friday, July 2nd 2010 @ 11.15pm:
So now we're down to the nitty gritty and the quarter finals always see the exits of some pretty decent sides.
You can't get any more decent than being five times previous winners yet reputation means nothing once the white line has been crossed and referee blows to start the game. One nil up and cruising into the half time interval, Brazil managed to make such lemons of themselves as to match the canary yellow of their famous shirts. Playing in their alternative blue this afternoon, they conceded two dreadful goals to the Dutch Orange Men and lost a player to some ridiculous indiscipline ending the game with ten men and now they too face the wrath of a nation and it's media on their return home tomorrow.........................make no mistake, this will be an ordeal for the Brazilian management and players.
Now the world seems to have united behind Ghana and has been willing them on to "win it for Africa" but I found myself feeling a growing irritation at their fast emanating arrogance that seemed to culminate with the whole squad living the high life until 1am this morning in the casinos of Sun City. What ruddy way is that to prepare for the biggest game of your lives? Don't tell me that they needed to relax and this was how to do it.
Mental preparation is everything and mental toughness was needed in the last seconds of time added on to extra time tonight when they were awarded a penalty for hand ball on the goal line and had the chance to despatch Uruguay back to South America in the same vein as Brazil....................what happens? Yupp you've guessed it, striker Asamoah Gyan skimmed the top of the crossbar and the battle was over. Mentally, Ghana were out on their feet, and although Gyan commendably took the first of the five kicks in the penalty shoot out and successfully (this time) shot home, two more of his team mates blew their chances and Ghana crashed out ~ Uruguay will face Holland in the first semi final then, and what oddds would you have got on that this morning?
Message to Africa ~ don't party until you've achieved something.....................we saw it with South Africa, we've seen it with Ghana. The talent is there to provide a World Cup winner but the attitude is way, way adrift in my opinion.
|Posted by alan merson on June 30, 2010 at 3:02 PM||comments (0)|
Wednesday, June 30th @ 8.30pm:
We're in the middle of a two day break in World Cup action as the quarter finalists prepare for the remainder of the tournament. A good time then, to take stock and reflect......................
There's no two ways about it, England's disgraceful showing was a disaster and a huge disappointment to the nation; but was it a surprise? Not really when you take on board the way that football is now run in this country and exactly who runs it.
The self proclaimed "Best League In The World" ~ The FA Premiership is the root of all evil as far as I am concerned. Set up with lofty ideals of cutting down the amount of competitive football our top stars would be required to play in the future, a league that would promote excellence over anything else and it would only be a matter of time (we were told) before England was competing with the rest of them at the very top of World Cup performance levels. What tosh.....................................
In reality we now have a Premiership that is 60% populated by players not qualified to play for England, a Premiership that denies our aspiring and potential England players the chance to gain first team football at their clubs; and a Premiership that burns out our brightest stars through cynically overplaying them without break in the lead up to the most important competition in world football.
Now the Premier League has the damned cheek to suggest that it should be runnig the national team and not the Football Association........................you couldn't make it up could you. Every well intentioned strategy has been stunted and stymied by these avaricious and selfish clubs, every good idea and imaginative project for the national development of our footballing youngsters has been taken on board and put into operation by rival nations like France, Holland and Germany; whilst much of it here is still on the drawing board and lacking funding ~ funding that the top clubs on this country can well afford.
I'll leave you with this illustration of the shameful lack of input our top four Premiership clubs have put into this World Cup campaign: Champions Chelsea developed just one member of the squad _~ John Terry. Runners up Manchester United none whatsoever. Third placed Arsenal ~ Ashley Cole and Matthew Upson; and Liverpool Matt Caragher and Steve Gerrard. Just five of the twenty three man squad developed by our top four clubs from pre-academy and academy days. Unlike Holland, Germany and France this country does not have a national centre for excellence, but leaves development of the identified elite youngsters in the hands of the professional clubs and all of those top finishers wilfully import youngsters from abroad to take academy places when they are fifteen or sixteen years of age to the detriment of our youth. They wilfully mass purchase talent from abroad thus dennying the home grown academy stars they still retain first team experience in their young years. Chelsea have produced just John Terry from their academy to first team in the past nine years. Arsenal have also managed to develope Ces Fabricus and Nicholas Bendtner for Spain and Denmark for Christ's sake; and Liverpool no-one in the nine years since Carragher and Gerrard emerged.
That is both shameful and indicative of the selfish, greedy and disastrous nature of our leading professional football clubs and we have reaped as a nation what we have sown. Our failure to perform at this year's World Cup was no surprise and certainly a pointer to a very grim future in my opinion.
|Posted by alan merson on June 28, 2010 at 4:41 PM||comments (0)|
Monday June 28th, 2010 @ 10pm:
If there is one thing we can produce of relevance to World soccer, it is the fact that the best refereeing team out there in South Africa is by far and away the team of officials who conducted tonight's Brazil v Chile Second Round match: Referee Howard Webb, and his Assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey.
I've been aware of Mullarkey for years by the way ever since he began appearing at the Plainmoor home of Torquay United as a fourth official, then linesman and finally referee when the club had their couple of seasons in the Football Conference.
As a referee, Webb is far and away the finest referee this country has produced in years and the dedication he put into getting in altitude training using the facilities of Hallam University in Sheffield bear testimony to his ultra professionalism and dedication..........................now that England's miserbale players are safely despatched back to Blighty, there is no earthly reason why he and his excellent team should get the ultimate accolade and get the appointment to handle the World Cup Final itself.
Todays's two victors, Holland and Brazil have only served to illustrate the immense gap between the hopeless efforts of our countrymen and true World Class footballers.......................enlightening stuff!
|Posted by alan merson on June 27, 2010 at 5:27 PM||comments (0)|
Sunday, June 27th ,2010 @ 10.30pm:
I've hardly got the will to write this tonight so I'll keep it short. In short England were crap today, they were an embarrassment and they were hopeless ~ no excuses!
A scandalously disallowed goal shows that "karma" can still exert it's influence over procedings even after 44 years....................then a "was it, wasn't it over the line" decision went our way against Germany; today it went the way of the Germans. Would it have altered the destiny of the match? Well we didn't consider that in 1966 and I very much doubt the Germans will be considering that tonight. In short WE smashed three other goals into their net at Wembley all those years ago and today they hit four into ours ~ end of story.
|Posted by alan merson on June 26, 2010 at 7:18 PM||comments (0)|
Saturday, June 26th, 2010 sometime in the dead of night once more!
A quickie tonight as I post accompanied by Imogen Heap.........................the oddest lady I ever did drive ~ and the highlights on the telly from Glastonbury.
Uruguay v South korea was hardly the stuff of dreams to put on TV on a sultry afternoon and I found myself missing huge chunks of the game as I dozed on the settee.
Not so tonight, and I have hugely enjoyed watching Ghana whup the arses of The USA to show them that yet again they are a minnow in a sea of sharks ready to gobble them up when they swim in the big tank. Never mind America, a team of little talent, no improvisation and little to commend it in my opinion; to anyone who is not an American.
Big up Ghana ~ the Black Stars of Africa and the sole representatives of the host continent, a continent that is getting behind them to a man...........................unles you're Nigerian that is. For the Super Eagles to have their pre-conception of greatness rubbed in their noses by their little neighbour is pure agony.
Bijou's over in Tottenham tonight and has no doubt been getting behind the third nation of this World Cup to gain her support, and partying as they celebrate..............................West Green Road will be rocking all night that's for sure and I only hope she get's home in time to get up tomorrow and get behind England in our quest to reach the quarter finals.
Come on England!
|Posted by alan merson on June 25, 2010 at 7:05 PM||comments (0)|
Friday, June 25th, 2010 @ sometime past midnight:
I must confess the World Cup was always going to take second place today for Calvin and I as we were off to the lovely little park up the road from here..........................
Elthorne Park is home to the Cruyff Court, a 3G Astroturf "cage" that was bought and paid for through the generosity of Dennis Bergkamp when he donated £75,000 of his testimonial money in recognition of his appreciation of the support of the people of Islington and for the warmth in which he felt he and his family were always greeted during his time as an Arsenal player. Opened in October 2008, it was staging the Berkcamp~Cruyff Tournament today and participating in it were boys and girls teams from Amsterdam's Cruyff Academy, The Islington Schools sides, leading North London school team, St Aloysious School For Boys (who number Joe Cole as one of their former pupils) and Arsenal Advanced Soccer School and the age groups were for under 11s and under 12s. My son's club, A Class Football Foundation were also due to participate; but once all their players in the Islington and Arsenal squads were taken out they had no-one left!
In city heat of 25 degrees and rising it was thankful that the little park at the foot of Hornsey Rise has so much tree cover and a couple of hidden gardens ~ one featuring a cooling waterfall and the other a meadowland floral and fauna area........................it's a little gem and a particular favourite hideaway of Calvin and I.
The little man soon made a hit with his England kit and ball dribbling skills and it wasn't long before the Dutch girls had co-opted him as their mascot and I swear if I hadn't claimed him back he would be on the trip back to Holland tomorrow morning. The event was covered by Dutch TV so no doubt he was seen in millions of Netherlands homes tonight.
When we got home and saw the Portugal v Brazil fiasco on TV and then a truly bonkers performance by a Mexican ref in the Chile v Spain encounter tonight, I realised that the true spirit of football had been with us in that little North London oasis this morning.........................now I'm chillin' throught eh night to Glastonbury on the telly. Ahhhhhhhh those hot summer evenings eh?
Plenty of pics of The Little Man and his Dutch Entourage on the World Cup Album tonight.
|Posted by alan merson on June 24, 2010 at 5:09 PM||comments (0)|
Thursday, June 24th, 2010 @ 11pm:
Four years ago the World Cup Final was played out between eventual Champions Italy and Finalists France......................today, both stand in disgrace as they failed to progress from the Group Stages, and if you think the French are being pilloried; just wait until the Italians get home.
I wouldn't be surprised if the price of tomatoes has risen through the roof overnight in the Rome wholesale markets and won't be shocked to see them pelted over their fallen stars when they arrive home. The fact is though that Italy now stands in the dock of other countries who have sold their football heritage down the river to the extent that Serie A Champions Inter Milan regularly fielded starting elevens without including one single Italian last season. Sound familiar that? For Serie A, read The English Premiership as seen at stadiums like Arsenal's Emirates, Chelsea's Stamford Bridge and English football's Aunt Sally club; once mighty Liverpool at Anfield Roadl.
So given that next Sunday evening will also see either England or Germany perusing the flight times out of South Africa, you can see that the rapidly rising pile of big name corpses is rising higher and higher even before the quarter finals have been reached.
Tonight Japan delightfully joined the group of emerging countries to rise towards the top of world fotball, when they ejected Denmark from the procedings and join Holland in emerging from their group and meanwhile former US President Bill Clinton has decided he has "gotten soccer fever" after one game and has re-arranged his itinerary so that he can stay in South Africa and cheer the Yanks on against Ghana on Saturday (hey, wasn't that OUR fixture?) for which there appear to be as many Englsih fans with tickets for that game as there are Americans for England's due to those who jumped the gun and purchased their tickets assuming that England would top the group ahead of USA......................do I hear echos of Homer Simpson and "doh!"
|Posted by alan merson on June 23, 2010 at 4:57 PM||comments (0)|
Wednesday June 23rd, 2010 @ 10.30pm:
So what was all the fuss about.......................England qualified (they always do) and the performance was focussed, powerful; and far too much for little Slovenia.
The Slovenian keeper was pretty hot mind you, and there was one hairy moment when they battered our goal with three attempts in little over five seconds; but apart from that England strolled through majestically.
Now it's going getting interesting, really interesting; Germany in the "Round of 16" as FIFA insist on calling it..........................never mind us fearing them; the Germans might be feeling as if they have succesfully dodged some bird droppings in getting past Ghana tonight only to step in some dog poo.
The kids' primary school had a novel way of deaing with the afternoon kick off today...............................lessons finished at 2.45 and the whole school was ushered into the Main Hall to watch the first half whilst any parents who wanted to, could pick up their little darlings at half time or leave 'em in there for the second half too and collect them at the final whistle. Thankyou Mr Tait for some wonderful lateral thinking and I take back all I said about school teachers!
I even heard a lone Vuvuzela as Jermain Defoe's shot hit the baclk of the net and I must say there was an air of the English Street Party about the neighbourhood today. Bijou's played the archtypal French trick of changing sides and abandoning les Bleus to their date with destiny back home and came out with the brilliant "today I am supporting England" well I could have choked on me meatballs. 'Why meatballs?' I hear you ask. Well in the true 'Allo, 'Allo traditions of Chez Merse she responded to my final whistle exclaimation of "We've won, can we have sex tonight?" with 'non, we 'ave meatballs' ~ there's no answer to that!
|Posted by alan merson on June 22, 2010 at 5:03 PM||comments (0)|
Tuesday June 22nd, 2010 @ 10.30pm:
So the French slither out of South Africa in the morning, moaning and whining, squabbling and sulking ~ how delicious!
This arrogant, unpleasant nation is suffering. Suffering a public exposure of it's self perceived excellence as a sham, humiliated that it's default nature of jacking it in at the first sign of adversity once again came to the fore; and shamed by the back biting and self destructive in fighting of it's World Cup football "stars".
From World Cup Finalists four years ago, they crashed to group wooden spoonists and only brought derision and mockery upon their heads. Just as Zinedine Zidane couldn't hack the pressure of a World Cup Final four years ago, this bunch of muppets couldn't hack anything in this one; even after cheating their way to the finals anyway.
That their final match in the tournament came against the first host nation ever to fail to emerge from the Group stages, only added to the shame............................South Africa too were poor; and once you strip away the periphery of singing and dancing their way down the tunnel before each match, the traditional hysterical over exuberance that host nations always seem to attract and pay due regard to the fact that in Mexico and Uruguay they had two quality opponents to over come; then their third place didn't come as any surprise to me.
Yes, the World Cup will be a less exuberant event without Bafana Bafana, but given the natural African belief that indeed "they" can; no doubt the people of South Africa will throw their weight behind any African nation that (mathematically at least) can deliver a World Cup to their continent........................Ghana perchance?
At least the South Africans can be proud of their team..........................the French? Hmmn.
|Posted by alan merson on June 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM||comments (0)|
Tuesday June 22nd, 2010 @ 2pm:
Whilst the Saudi ref of the Chile v Switzerland chose to show a staggering 11 cards during his game yesterday, England's John Terry was making an arse of himself by patently playing the wrong cards during his press conference.
Never apparently blessed witha lot of intelligence , Terry followed up his being stripped of the England captaincy for extra marital indiscretions by firmly putting his foot in his mouth when sitting in front of the World's press corps and invoked further disapproval of his conduct from manager Fabio Capello. Will he play a part in the rest of the tournament for England? Well due to the injuries suffered by fellow central defenders Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King together with Jamie Carragher's suspension, I'm rather afraid he will but I expect him to be history once the tournament is over.
Whilst Terry was playing all the wrong cards, the referee of the Spain v Chile game staggered everyone who witnessed it, with his performance. On a happier not, Portugal v North Korea resembled the lower end of the Seven Sisters Road with one way traffic on an unbelievable scale: 7-0 to the Portugues to add to the 5-3 defeat they inflicted on the same nation on the last occasion the North Koreans made the finals in 1966.
Connectivity issues have affected the main server for this site over the past few days, causing the late posting of this edition.............................sorry about that but it is out of my hands ~ a kind of "Robert Green Syndrome"
|Posted by alan merson on June 20, 2010 at 6:20 PM||comments (0)|
Sunday, June 20th @ 1130pm:
Tales of revolt amongst the French camp with Nicholas Annelka being dismissed from the squad and sent home, the players refusing to train and then the Director of Football walking out are all music to English ears. We've never liked the French, consider that so typical of their mentality under pressure; and hope and pray the same implosion doesn't occur within our own ranks!
Tales of impending unrest in the England camp with the payers split into divisive factions and of the manager's apparent readiness to resign should we fail to qualify for the quarter finals, should all be taken with a large dose of tabloid salt in my opinion ~ but there is always that nagging suspicion that there is no smoke without fire.
Fabio Capello is not the only unhappy Italian manager, Italy's own Marcello Lippi is also under pressure and under fire following The Azzuri's second succesive failure to win a group game....................this time a 1-1 draw with minnows New Zealand threatened to become their modern day "North Korea" and create a whole lot more ballyhoo going on amongst the travelling press corps.
So the French have revolted, but in my opinion they are long way short of being as revolting as the Ivory Coast who's thuggery and chicanery blighted tonight's game with Brazil who ended up with scorer Elano departing on a stretcher lucky not to have suffered a broken leg courtesy of Tiote; and then Kaka on a red card cruelly fabricated by the cheating Keita who's reaction to a shove in the chest was to fall to the ground clutching his face as if hit in the gob. The unacceptable brutality of African football allied to the insufferable and growing worldwide cancer of down right cheating.