Thursday, January 27, 2005

Pat Kiernan! Pat Kiernan!

So if I write about everyone's favourite Canadian anchor do you think he'll comment on my blog?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Walter Mondale.

Does Walter Mondale ever read this site?
If he does I'd be delighted to know.
All the best,

Friday, January 21, 2005

The gathering clouds.

They say a Nor'easter is on it's way.
I'm reading a terrific book about WW2 ('Armageddon' by Max Hastings).
I've just netflixed all the 'Band of Brothers' dvds.
Mayhew is in town over the weekend (but fortunately he has no need to do any 'sights')
Just had a load of firewood delivered.
It's pretty safe to say that I'm going nowhere for a day or two.
I do love a good winter storm!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Oh Janus.

God of openings and doorways.
Patron of entrances and beginnings.
First month of the year, Janus. You have been with us for seventeen days and during that time I have had some cautious sensations regarding the dawn of 2005.
On Saturday a little part of me came to terms with the prospect of relegation. I know, this is just sport, not life and death but it is something that I fear I will have to embrace come May. I watched Norwich get beaten by Aston Villa 3-0. We were taken apart, ever so nicely, and left by the wayside.
You see, I cannot write such words as these on the NYCanaries website.
That is the place for stoic loyalty and bravehearted, grim witted optimism.
I would rather wax lyrical about past glories or amusing run ins with celebrities than confront the slow, inoxerable misery of relegation.
Like the Romans of old, we curse or praise our gods depending upon the fortune they place upon us.
At this time we know not what such fortune is to be.


If you're really interested I have edited "up for the cup#2" to remove all the eastern european spellings and stuff. If so inclined scroll down to check it out. Thank you

Sunday, January 16, 2005

tuesdays with gunny.

In accordance with my new editorial policy I am publishing NYCanaries articles on this site as well as at the NYCanaries home (see links on right). For biographical info about Bryan Gunn check on the title link above.
The following is reasonably true, as far as I can recall.

"In the Merchant Ivory film "The remains of the day" there is a scene where Anthony Hopkins is stuck in a village pub. He accidentally, kinda, sort of gives the locals the impression that he is on friendly terms with Winston Churchill. They make the assumptions; he is unable (at risk of seeming foolish) to dissuade them.
It's a bit like that with Bryan Gunn and me.
Of course I watched him from afar to begin with, he took over from Graham Benstead in 1986 and was part of the team that finished 4th in division one in 1987. From there on he took incremental steps to becoming one of city's greatest living heroes. A top class goalie with a human side and courage on and off the pitch that couldn't fail to warm him tightly to the proud Norfolk bosom.
So where do I fit into his story? What's Bowlesy's role in the rise and rise of Gunny?
I'll be honest; I've never hung out with him in the Jerry Seinfeld/ Keith Hernandez way. But I have had enough brush ups and run ins with this true Norfolk hero to warrant a few words on the matter.
Bryan Gunn joined the club in 1986 and soon established himself as first team goalkeeper. His place in the team was, as New Yorkers would say "a given".
Bryan continued to keep goal for city during those topsy turvy late 80's and nineties. City enjoyed their normal eclectic mixture of success and incompetence but Gunn was a constant. Nice guy, great keeper, constant.
We move forward a few years to 1994. I'm away at university so I don't get to see city play as much as I should. It's Christmas and the Bowles family have decided to bond in a mildy ironic way by visiting the panto at the Theatre Royal. This is mildy ironic because the Bowles kids are in their 20's and the panto is full of families with 9 year olds. It was the night that city were playing Forest and Gunn breaks his ankle. At half time in the panto (sorry,interval) Dad, brother Simon, brother in law to be Matt and me are all watching the TV in the bar nervously. As usual Bowles senior is cautiously pessimistic. "That's our season buggered then" as we watch Gunn stretchered off.
I wouldn't mention this except for what happened a few weeks later.
A friend of the family works in a hospital and knows nothing about football. She had a nice young man come in with a bad ankle break. She was making NHS style small talk with the patient and she asked him how he had injured himself. "Playing football," he responded. "Oh", she said, "Do you play locally?" "Yes" he responded with a cheeky grin "just done the road, Carrow road".
"That's nice, well the doctor will be along soon". And off she went, none the wiser. Just bearing in mind that at that time he was one of the most easily recognizable footballers in the country or even Europe and certainly a living god in his adopted hometown of Norwich.

Sadly the ankle break signaled the end of the high life for Gunny. He was out for the rest of the season and with a management policy involving selling off major talent city were relegated in May 1995. Gunn struggled to regain his place aginst Andy Marshall and in 1998 he was sold back to Scotland to Hibs.
At about this time my own world was once again turning eastward. After a number of years living in the West Country, watching Bristol rovers and trekking out to such godforsaken holes such as Elm park and the County ground, Swindon to watch city once or twice a year I decided to return to Norfolk. A combination of factors drove my choice, the beaches, sailing, friends and family but most importantly I wanted to watch city play more than four times a year. In a blizzard in December 1999 I drove from Bath to Wymondham and picked up my life in the east.
I was enjoying my home town again, watching city with my newly purchased half season ticket, strolling about Norwich on the away days and generally rediscovering a quality of life I'd been missing.
Then one day, in Pizza Express on St Benedict's street, it happened.
I was in there with a couple of friends after an amusing day of wandering about the city. He was there with his wife and kids having a Saturday afternoon feast.
I have to admit I didn't really think too much about it, he was doing his dad thing, making sure the kids weren't too noisy or lary whilst attempting to enjoy a meal with his family. I thought it was pretty cool that he was in there but being a bit celebrity shy I said nothing (except to my companions who were also pretty impressed).
Did I say celebrity shy? In the next few months Bryan Gunn was to change forever my attitude towards celebrities, well, one Scottish ex city goalie in particular.
A weekend later, oh what the hell? Hungry, footsore, let's do Pizza Express.
There he is again, same time, same place. Cool.
This kept happening.
It became a little annoying.
I started to think that he was following me.
That's a pretty bold stalker you have to admit, bringing your wife and kids along. That's a brilliant cover.
I stopped frequenting Pizza Express for a while and the whole Bryan Gunn is my stalker thing died down. I was glad; no one wants a messy court case with the papers involved.

Fast forward to the early summer of 2001. It's the close season, there's no World Cup or European Championships to watch and I'm in a Wymondham pub with friends having a beer.
Suddenly from the inside of the pub a fella comes into the garden and starts yelling, "Bryan Gunn's in the pub!"
I take charge. I tell my friends,"leave this to me, I know this man and I know the way he thinks. If I'm not back in ten minutes come looking".
I stroll through to the lounge bar and there he is, tall, suntanned and, forgive me Bryan, a couple of drinks down. I approach him, glassy eyed I tell him "Bryan Gunn! You're my childhood hero!" He responds "Childhood? My god! You're making me feel really old!" and which point he grabs my right hand in a vice like grip, the kind of firm handshake you would expect from, well, Bryan Gunn. We have a small chat (I'll preserve the beauty of the moment by keeping the details from the public domain) and then he turns to another well wisher. It turns out that he's in town as part of his charity work and has found time to relax with a couple of buddies over a beer.
Hey, who's complaining?
If anyone deserves a beer it's Bryan Gunn.
I mean, I'd like to buy him a beer.
No I'd love to buy him a beer.
Wait just a minute, I'll even give him my beer.
But there is one small problem. Bryan's grip on my hand is still, well, gripping my hand.
He has turned and talked to some others yet he is still holding my hand in a firm, manly, Scottish goalkeeper type of handshake. I try politely to extricate myself from this. I grin; I use facial expressions to indicate my increasing physical discomfort. Then it comes to pass. The moment I never, ever considered would happen has to happen. I must confront Bryan Gunn and insist that he releases me from his canary death grip.
When I turn on him he acts as if he's done nothing wrong. Now as anyone who knows me will understand, the very last thing I would wish for is a scene, most of all a scene with a real life hero. I turn, grip my crippled hand and return to my friends, a broken man.

Wait, there's more, my tale is not yet done.

A few months later I get to go to Carrow road in a special capacity. Some kids from my primary school are taking part in the 'run around the track at half time thingy' that city sometimes do. It has to be said that during a particularly dull game this can prove to be the highlight of the afternoon as thousands of fans yell bloody murder at a bunch of eight year olds running relay around the perimeter track as if they were racehorses or greyhounds.
Just before half time we are guided through the city stand to meet our competitors and... Bryan Gunn. By this point, as well as being sheriff of Norwich Bryan is also a hospitality host at the club, his playing days behind him he is putting his boundless good spirits into serving both his old team and his adopted city. Our rivals that day happened to be Bryan's local primary school, He seemed to be on good terms with their teacher, he even seemed to know some of the kids. He looked at me in a mild "haven't we met before? Are you sure you're not my nemesis?" kind of way. I wasn't going to have this blatant favouritism; I hadn't driven in from the other side of Watton to have my boys out psyched like this. I remembered our encounter in the pub a few months back and tried to think of how I could come back, how I could restore the honour of my school. What could I say? What would be appropriate yet fitting, what would put my hero in his place yet still keep him as my hero? My most important thought at that moment was to motivate my charges for their run out onto the Carrow road pitch. After he'd ruffled the hair of the kids I turned to him with a grin, introduced myself, looked him in the eye, and shook his hand. This time I let go, next time? who can say?

For the record my kids lost the relay race."

This article will also be available on the NYCanaries website in a day or two.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Shock Horror!

What's worse? A 20 year old uber rich stoner lush making a dick out of himself and emabarrasing others? Or the media pretending that his behaviour actually matters?
Remember that this is the grandson of the Duke of Edinburgh. (clink on the title link above to see what I mean)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Quiz answers!!!!

At last! After weeks of careful negotiations and tearful farewells we are finally able to deliver the answers to the end of year quiz.
Category 1. Expletive deleted:The White House.

1. When was the last time that New York State went Republican in a Presidential election? 1984, the only state to go for Mondale-Ferraro was Minnesota.
2. FDR's last Vice President was born where? Harry Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri.
3. He said this in his innaugural address "Even now a rocket moves towards Mars". Who? Did you really even begin to imagine that I would leave out my favoutite all time Texan Pres called Lyndon? Did ya?
4. Jimmy Carter had 2 Secretarys of State. Who was the second? It was Edmund Muskie of Maine.
5. Two Presidents have banned the playing of 'Hail to the Chief'. Name them.
Well, this is open for discussion. Sure, Jimmy Carter banned it outright but funnily enough George W. Bush has severely limited it's playing. He feels it should only be played on profoundly formal occaisons.

Category 2 has been removed. Australian Geography? I mean, who cares?

Category 3. "Scuse me? Can you tell me where the ground is?"

(Where do the following sports teams call home?)
1. Somerset County Cricket Club? These also rans of first class cricket play at 'The County Ground' in Taunton, Somerset, UK
2. New York Mets? Shea Stadium.
3. New York Islanders? Nassau Colliseum.
4. Dinamo Bucharest? Stefan Cel Mare
5. Boston RedSox? Fenway Park, The Green Monster

Category 4. "One is closer to God in a garden".

1. Prospect Park in Brooklyn was designed by who? Olmstead & Vaux of course!
2. It's in Boston, it's next to Boston Common, It's a park. What is it called? The Public Gardens (It's got nice ducks).
3. 'Hitler's Oak' is located in which English beauty spot? (special thumbs up if you can explain the reason for the name?) It's in a place called How Hill in Norfolk. The Boardman family used to own the house and one of their sons was an olympic sailor. He won a gold medal in 1936. Adolf Hitler awarded all gold medal winners an oak tree. Boardman duly planted his in his family's back garden. It's there to this day, you have to ask a gardener to point it out, it's not like they have a big sign saying "HITLER'S OAK". It makes you wonder if Jesse Owens ever got one.
4. Columbus Circle stands at the entrance to which New York public space? Central Park.
5. There is a park in Munich that should appeal to me. Name it. The Englisher Garten. I've never been but a Munich friend of mine has often told me that I should.

Category 5. Bricks and mortar .

1. The Brooklyn Bridge became the tallest building in the world in which year? In 1883.
2. Which building took the title three years later? The Eiffel Tower.
3. Who designed and 'built' the Clifton Suspension bridge? Isambard Kingdom Brunel . (If anyone can get their hands on the Cosgrove Hall animated musical version of Brunel's life entitled IKB I would love to know.)
4. He designed the pyramids at The Louvre. Name him. I.M.Pei
5. What's the tallest building in the world? Right now it's the one on Taipei.

Category 6. Lyrics.

Name the artist.
1. "I got me a fearless heart". Steve Earle.
2. "To live in the hearts of of those he loved is not to die". Badly Drawn Boy.
3. "Don't take any wooden nickels when you sell your soul". Eels.
4. "She worked at fifteen clubs a day". The Beatles.
5. " If it's good enough for you" Dodgy.

Category 7. Poets.

Name the poets.
1. Dead Englishman who lived in New York during WW2. His friend's memories inspired the Broadway show 'Cabaret'. W.H.Auden
2. This dead UK Poet Laureate apparently bore more than a passing resemblance to my father. Ted Hughes.
3. Living London poet, wrote the children's classic 'Chocolate cake'. Michael Rosen.
4. Dead American with a dysfunctional marriage to #2, suicide. Sylvia Plath.
5. A great big living hairy Aussie poet, first name 'is more'. Les Murray.
If you don't do so already for god's sake read more poetry.

Category 8. Movies.

Name the movies.
1. Two British blokes climb up a mountain in Peru. They both come down again but in freakishly differing circumstances. "Touching the void"
2. Probably one of my favourite movies ever. Australian sporting comedy from the early 1980's involving "ma-ra-ju-ana" and corruption in an Aussie rules football club. "The Club" Huge thanks to Dave & Hamish for turning me onto the o.m.d where I found that this movie really does exist and was not just a figment of my imagination.
3. Robert McNamara tells all (except he doesn't) "The fog of war".
4. Clean your memories of slightly mad ex girlfriend. "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind".
5. Matthew Broderick has to buy rare creatures for Marlon Brando. "The Freshman".

Category 9. History.

1. He became King Emperor of India on December 11th 1936. Who in the blue blazes was he? King George VI of Great Britain & her Empire & Dominions, King Emperor of India
2. She was the first ever US Senator who was not a man. Who and when? (and a great big warm, smug feeling if you can relate any of the slightly devious details about how and why she got the job). Her name was Rebecca Felton who was appointed by Gov Thomas Hardwick of Georgia. He thought that by appointing an 87 year old in late November she would have to stand down when the newly elected senator was sworn in in January 1923. The new senator duly stood aside for one day only to allow rebecca to take the oath in the Senate thus becoming, for one day only the first Female Senator.
3. Born in Takster, Tibet in 1935. Name him. (GOODBAR QUESTION!!!!!) The Dalai Lama. Well done Mr P!
4. In what year did Tom Daschle first become a US Senator? 1986.
5. The costliest day in the history of the British military. July 1st, 1916. The first day of the battle of the Somme.

Category 10. Zeitgeist.

1. Jason Alexander produced both the 'Agent Cody Banks' movies. True or False? This is true. don't ask me how I know this shit.
2. In which South American country did poor old John Peel die? Peru.
3. Norwich City chalked up their 2nd Premiership win of the 2004/05 season. Against which team? Bolton Wanderers
4. When will the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center be taken down? January 5th.
5. What's the world's largest ship? The Queen Mary II

Category 11. Bonus Philosophy round. (just think it)

1. Is the wind cold or refreshing? It does tend to depend very much upon your state of mind at the point of impact.
2. Can you handle the truth? Sadly very few of us can, unless it's of a complimentary nature. Still, it's a good thing to try and live by and an invaluable asset within a relationship.
3. If some men see things as they are and say why? and some men see things as they could be and say why not? What do the women think? As a man I will not flatter myself to even try and answer this.
4. Which is your best foot? It's really a 50/50 choice.
5. When stopping by the woods on a snowy evening do you feel beauty or fear?
Quite definately a glorious mixture of both!

There, hope you enjoyed it. Sorry the answers took so long.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Get your own blog.

It's there on the upper right hand side of the screen. It just says "Get your own blog".
I often think it's telling me to f**k off when I'm reading the blogs of others.
That makes me smile.
Something else that made me smile (as well as making me deeply jealous because I hadn't thought of it first) was handwashing's history of hair. Check it out.

Up For the Cup #2.

As good as it is I see no reason why you, oh loyal reader should have to do anymore link jumping than is absolutely nessecary. Accordingly I have reproduced my most recent NYCanaries article here in full. I've also added some additional commentary in the way that Ron Howard might add to the latest "Arrested development" dvd. (Author's commentary is in brackets)
"The decorations are down, the last guests have left and the FA Cup third round is here again. A new year, new hopes, new dreams.
I like to start the new year with the third round. It allows me a few days to shake off the hangover and get the resolutions out of the way.

( The Competition actually starts in August with non league amateur teams. By November the First round proper has taken place and in the first week of january the monied teams are involved)

A few sips of coffee later, out of the cup at West Ham.

(I have no issues with West Ham, their cockney chirpiness helped us to win the war. The Germans may have dropped millions of bombs on the east end of London but they kept smiling and singing silly songs about scrap metal and old women underneath kitchen tables).

Then it started to rain.
I'll admit that I would rather survive in the Premiership than enjoy a cup run.
Even a successful one.
But just stop what you're doing and think about a cup run and what it would mean for Norfolk.
There's something a little special about it, the media frenzy, the newspapers going crazy, 'Look East' running around like a headless coot looking for celebrity Norwich fans, perhaps Stephen Fry? Brittany Spears? That bloke who plays Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter movies? The national media being oh so mildly patronizing about the plucky East Anglians. Football Focus doing a special from Gentleman's walk? The team making a Cup Final song with Cathy Dennis? Special trains laid on, Norwich airport full of yellow and green cup final flights ,courtesy of Air Cymru. The EDP 36 page full colour supplement.

(Look East is the local TV News show, nightly at 6.30. They tell you all about teenage road death and lost or amusing pets, The EDP is the local newspaper, the same thing really but with a greater emphasis upon medical negligence and agricultural accidents. Football Focus is the national, long running, Saturday morning football special.)

Alright so we're out, again.
But I still love the cup. Always have, and always will. It's the one thing that we have never won that I think we should have won (I think our best chance was in 1989) and the one thing that I would dearly love to see us win.
The'Cup' has a funny effect on me. I like to think that I'm a fairly liberal, modern thinking sort of bloke, making my way through a troubled and difficult world.
Yet whenever the FA Cup is mentioned I get all misty eyed and start reminiscing about a time that I know nothing about. I start thinking about King George VI, sitting there at the Empire Stadium, Wembley, chainsmoking his way through a game played between two brylcreemed teams. I start to yearn for a time when everyone knew the words to "abide with me" and bloody well sang them.

('Abide with me' is a famous hymn which is sung before every Cup Final. People only know the first few lines "Abide with me, fast falls the eventide, The darkness deepens, Lord with me abide etc etc ..." I recently found the entire hymn published in a book. It's a tragically depressing hymn about death! Still, can you even begin to imagine a Godsong being sung prior to the Superbowl or a World series game? Yet here I am, an old fashioned church & state liberal lamenting the fact that the modern generation has forgotten the words to this sturdy old hymn).

That's probably why I love the cup more than any other tournament. It's the connection between the past and the now. I've watched every cup final since 1981 bar 1988 when I had to work the afternoon shift in Merv's hot bread kitchen in Wymondham and 2003 when I was unable to get the telly to work here in New York. (I then set to thinking about how many football games I have ever watched, don't try this, it hurts!)
I actually went to the cup final in 1987 and was lucky enough to be stood at the Coventry end as they beat Spurs 3-2. I still regard Cup Final day as the holiest day of the year.
The cup has given me memories and myth that fuels my passion for the game. In my lifetime alone I can recall Ricky Villa's goal against Manchester City in '81, Chas n' Dave making fantastic cup final songs for the cup-tastic Spurs team of 81 &82. Brighton so nearly upsetting Manchester United in '83 and of course, Coventry beating Spurs and then, a year later Wimbledon beating one of the greatest sides of the modern era, the 1988 Liverpool. I could go on.
Even before my time there is the myth. The myth handed down to me by the older generation, Bert Trautmann's neck, Charlie George's goal and of course our glorious if ultimately doomed 1959 cup run.

(My Dad, who was there, is working on his account of the 1959 Cup Run. Although lots of things have been published about it there exists no decent website. What really freaks me out is that some of the '59 generation are actually starting to die. Their story must be told).

So you see, I love the FA Cup. Trouble is, she just doesn't seem to love me. You would think that with all the words written in respect of the egalitarian nature of the competiton that it would be right up our street. I must admit that Exeter's exploits at Old Trafford this afternoon ended any sorrow I felt about our exit at Upton Park.
It's just one of those little things that makes me quietly proud to be English.
I suppose it's just like so many other things, take politics for example. The US constitution gives you the impression that anyone born a citizen of the United States can become President. Yet it's always a millionaire middle class white guy who gets the job.
Same thing with the FA Cup.
In theory anyone, as long as they are members of the Football Association can enter the tournament and, with luck, skill and judgement lift the famous trophy in May. Then Marlon Harewood pops up in the 81st minute and messes up everything."

(The article in it's original form can still be read at , link at right.)

straight talkin, hip shootin, man of the people type stuff

If you care to follow the NYCanaries link on the right of this page you will find "He's big, he's bold, he's Bowlesy"
It's where I do my duty by the old country and write an occaisonal 'man of the people' style article about football.
This one is about the FA Cup.
You should also check out the 'Maine man' articles by my dear old chum Wisdom Weasel.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Selective memory

I really can't explain why 2005 has put such a kiabosh on my blogging. I tried to put the quiz answers up over the weekend and became so easily distracted that the whole thing just fell apart in an admirably clumsy way.
I think it may be due to mild work related pressures and a new years resolution to do something well if it's to be done at all.
Just another thought. Does anyone else read memoirs and autobiographies and seek out crucial dates within them to see what records the subject kept? I wonder what Noel Coward was thinking the day they bombed Nagasaki? What did LBJ report the day England won the world cup? I always get a bit annoyed if my expectations are not met, if these poeple whose lives I have taken the time to read about are not as obsessed with the annihilation of Japan or Geoff Hurst's hatrick as I am.
Then I read over some of my blogging for the past few weeks (or complete lack of it) and I have no published thought towards the crisis in Southern Asia (this entry doesnt count as I'm reporting the fact that I have made no entry). I suppose that if anyone is reading this in thirty or forty years time they may well be upset with me. I feel better now. I feel empathy.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The hour of lead

I've not written for ages and about that I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I have neglected too many people. There are no excuses apart from the fact that one cannot be expected to bulldoze through life without rest. I shall publish quiz answers over the weekend and who knows, maybe this is the first of a flurry of new entries, falling upon you like snow. I am tired and just as they give me the most joy, people also give me the most fatigue (There are the exceptions, you know who you are). I just feel like i need a rest from 'other' people. The people who fill my days with stuff I don't need. Being the optimist that I am I shall soon be up and about and publishing more stuff for you'all.