Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A ridiculous ammount of blogging and photography about my morning with the England team.

This is probably the largest, craziest entry I've ever posted. Enjoy.
To get the full benefit, please scroll down to the first pictures, just above the desert island discs entry.
It's sort of chronological, from the bottom up.

Can you really imagine a credible sports host dressing like this and hitting on everything in sight? Well in Columbia it can happen.

The Columbian John Motson hitting on Chris's girlfriend.

The Columbian John Motson.

MIchael Owen.

Here's the thing. I like Michael Owen. He is a good man who has scored a silly ammount of goals for his (my) country and I'm sure that his mood today merely reflected his jetlag/discontent about having to delay his summer vacation by playing meaningless games in the US/leaving Liverpool in order to win the European Cup with Real Madrid only to have Liverpool win the European Cup anyway/missing his wife etc.
But, he annoyed me intensely today.
Each time I focused on him with my fancy camera (the one with auto focus, lenses etc) he turned away. Each time I tried to get a shot with the digital camera he managed to evade my lense.
Even now as I try to blog all this his pictures appear in the wrong order. Of the three pics I have published here today it should be #1.Him ignoring me on the pitch. #2 Him ignoring me passing through a crowd and # 3 Him completely disregarding me as he walks up some steps. Thats the order the pictures should appear but oh no, It's all about Mr Owen.
(I would like to add that David Beckham was all charisma and charm. I was with him for about a minute but he was almost Clintonesque in making me feel special and warm).

Michael Owen avoids me twice.

Michael Owen has had enough of me altogether, competely, period.

Michael Owen ignores me for the first time.

Monday, May 30, 2005


I've just had the most marvellous of mornings. I was invited to visit the England training session at Giants stadium in NJ (scroll down to the start of the pictures, they are in a loose chronology from the bottom up). Even after the invite I wasn't sure that this would really happen and my two friends who picked me up this morning weren't totally sure that this wasn't some kind of a cruel joke.
We thought that perhaps we would have to sit in the stands and observe from afar, that we would have a chance to take some distant, smudgy snapshots and possibly, just possibly grab a quick word as the players scuttled back onto the team bus.
It all seemed to be going that way when we arrived at what seemed to be a deserted stadium. Of course we didn't realise that the entrance was on the other side so we walked all the way round to find guys with ID badges sending folk this way and that. We introduced ourselves and to our relief were escorted to a press tent. There we were given our 'credentials' and told to go with Jeremy who would show us around.
Still thinking this was all too good to be true our hearts faltered as New Jersey's slowest moving security guy told us that our 'credentials' were not the right 'credentials'. Jeremy gets on a walkie talkie and eventually scurries off, leaving us alone with grumpy security guy. At this point we bump into Robert Green's parents. The NYCanaries had come along to present the Norwich goalie with his player of the year award. He won the award after we had decided that him winning it and us having to present it to him in person would be a fantastic way of getting us to meet the rest of the England team.
Jeremy returned with a smooth looking guy in a suit who essentially told security guy to let us in.
We were put in a large area containing a variety of photographers, a mad Columbian TV crew and Robert Green's parents. I strolled over to the corner flag where I could play with my fancy new camera with it's lenses and stuff. I also bumped into Green's mother who was telling me how it's all very nice to visit New York but she would really rather be shopping or at the beach. I asked her, "The million dollar question, Do you actually like football?" "Of course I do, I just don't really like all this stuff". Still, like everyone else she was super nice, thoroughly approachable and happy to chat.
By this point the players were chasing about in the near half of the field, going through the motions of a press day/fake training session. The stands above us were filling with kids and the mad Columbian was yelling in his mike. I thought that this was as good as it was going to get but then the liason from the Football Association strolled over and told us that we were about to have our ten minutes with Robert Green.
We were sent from the media area onto the pitch.
Onto the bloody pitch!
The pitch where David Beckham was hanging out just a few yards away. The pitch where Michael Owen was being all moody. We got to present Rob Green with his award and share a few polite jokes and all the usual 'fan meets star player' smalltalk. 'Greeno' actually hung out with us for about 20 minutes and was super nice, a bit sweaty but appreciative of the award and easy to get along with.
I took a bunch of pictures and have thrown some up on the blog. I also got a few shots of David Beckham who was wonderful, friendly and relaxed and inches away from me.
One of the best aspects was that once we had presented Robert Green with his award and he had wandered off to chat with friends and family, the nice people from the FA sort of forgot that we were there. We were able to hang about on the pitch taking pictures and chatting with players.
It all seems a little too bizarre to be real but I have the pictures and for now that's good enough. I'll come down in a day or two.

The media circus.

Mr Beckham going up some stairs.

Mr Columbian TV is not happy about the fact that we got into the VIP enclosure and he did not.

Robert Green chats to his mum and dad.

My intense close up of a discombobulated David Beckham.

Mr Beckham coming down some stairs.

That's me on the left.

And how we laughed!

And then I give him a bunch of stuff.

The NYCanaries present Robert Green with our player of the year award.

After losing Michael Owen I turn to harass Robert Green.

Michael Owen turns his back on me.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Desert Island Discs.

OK, You have to choose your 7 all time favourite pieces of music. One for each day of the week if that helps. I'm curious and nosey. For your money's worth mine looks a bit like this...

Supergrass: Jesus came from outta space.
Steve Earle: The kind.
Cowboy Junkies: Anniversary song.
Billy Bragg: St Swithin's Day.
Eels: Rock hard times.
"Oh Lord and master of mankind" (it's a hymn, preferably belted out by a tone deaf congregation at a Bowles family wedding/christening/funeral).
Beethoven's ninth "Ode to Joy" sung in it's original German please.

So there we go. If you want to throw it out there go ahead. If not you just got a glimpse into the ever shifting psyche of the boy Mondale.

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's just like 1984!

And I am giggly and excited.
Firstly, Liverpool won the European cup last Wednesday night. That's a real time warp situation right there. I was lucky enough to get really crappy internet coverage of this event. I have since been told that it was arguably one of the games of the century. Marvellous. But at least an English team won.
Then I got a cryptic phonecall from a friend who runs the NYCanaries. You know the kind of call that gives you a gut feeling. "Hi, It's me, call me as soon as you get this". He is a friend but not the type of person who would call me in a crisis. He is also the master of fabulous self publicity and genuine fun to be around. I call him. He has got us 'invited' to watch England train in New Jersey on Monday. I had to decline, "I'll be at work, shit!" Then I call him right back. "It's Memorial Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I am as excited as a very excited thing because on Monday I get to hang out with a bunch of overpaid (make that ridiculously overpaid) young people who would no doubt annoy the living crap out of me if I had to spend one minute actually talking to them. But then again I might get to meet Wayne Rooney!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A period of reflection.

Following the demise of Norwich City as a premiership force I have been taking stock.
Accordingly I have posted no new entries since that fateful Sunday.
I shall continues to hold my peace untill the final day of the season, Monday, May 30th.
Unless something really cool comes along like wierdos making out at Shea or cruel and unusual poetry unearthed from another age.
This is a time for reflection.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The post mortem.

Some reasons for our defeat.
April brought some black and white cookies. Black and white?
Fulham play in black and white, as do West Brom (well, dark blue) who managed to stay up. It was a delightful gesture, just not thought through.
Where the hell was Mr Paquette?
The wierd hippy lady in the corner of the bar who told us off for smoking near James's dog.
It also appears that we were crap.

Manchester United #2

From the BBC. And yes, a large part of this is that german word for delighting in the traumas of those around you.

"It is currently a crisis caused by nothing more than uncertainty.

There is no proof yet that Glazer's takeover would be bad for Manchester United, other than it takes the club's ownership out of English hands.

Much has been said about United's "heart and soul" being ripped out, but Old Trafford was opened up to market forces went it went public 14 years ago - the start of a period of spectacular success.

"Not for sale" is the great rallying call for Old Trafford's faithful, but in reality almost everything at Manchester United has been for sale since that day. A hollow cry from this mega-rich and mega-marketable club. "

Fulham v Norwich.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Fulham v Norwich.

I'm getting really nervous.
Must stop blogging and do something constructive.
I've got all my plans ready for tomorrow.
Get up at 8am, ride 2 or 3 train to the Upper West Side, meet James, listen to game, watch United game. I expect Southampton to win.
I expect Norwich to win. Must win. Must win.
Watch delayed Norwich game. Must win.
Oh my god I think I'm turning into some sort of Redsock. I am starting to exhibit the type of paranoid freakery behaviour normally only associated with fans of the Boston Redsox.
I talked to my Dad and brother today, it was all we could talk about. Dad was all sort of calm, resigned wisdom and hope.
Simon told me where everyone he knew would be watching the game*. he told me that it was the biggest game he could remember, bigger than the Milk Cup final twenty years ago, bigger than the UEFA campaign in 1993. Far bigger even than last year's Championship. A hell of a lot more nervewracking that's for sure.
*City die hard and compulsive-obsessive fan, Tom Wood is apparently on holiday with his charming family in Sicily. Nice timing Tom. Booked the holiday a few months ago when he figured that we would be dead and buried already! Hope you get the match on Italian telly.

Manchester United.

Apparently Manchester United fans are upset because the oh so slightly beardy and creepy Malcolm Glazer has bought a bunch of shares. Listen up. United were a significant part of the crass commercialism of football that has upset so many people in the last thirty odd years and spawned a whole leftfield footy culture ala' Nick Hornby, WSC etc.
They pretty much invented themselves as an industry, global brand, corporate giant and so on. United pushed hard for the formation of the Premiership, bigger chunks of cash from the telly, greater European involvement and all that.
I'm not saying it's all bad but you can't then turn around and close the shop just because Mr Beardy Wierdy ginger head comes sniffing around.
So please, You poor , hard done by United fans, oh you who have suffered so at the hands of the evil capitalists (let's see? Since the foundation of the Premiership in 1992 we have 8 championships, 4 FACups and a European cup).
Stop complaining.
Shut up.
You get no sympathy here.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Mounting pressure (Superbowl for losers)

I tried to explain it to the kids. I said "it's like the Superbowl for losers".
I was attempting to explain how tense and anxious I was about Sunday's game. I've denied details about where I'll be watching the game so that people won't find me and jinx it (like, who the hell is going to trek up to Amsterdam and 83rd at 9.30am on a Sunday?). I have to be there with my people. Ms Random Doubt won't be coming (she's a jinx on the big occaison).
9.30am on Sunday. Death or Glory. I mean, if you lose the cup final you just lose a game, it sucks but it doesn't change your league position. Lose against Fulham and the bottom drops out of my football world. I am actively looking for omens and signs. Death or Glory. This is real death or glory.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

trdowm caption competition.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tense, nervous headache.

It's all come down to the final Saturday of the season.
City are playing Fulham.
I'll be in a bar at 10am in Saturday morning listening on the radio.
I'll have my phone switched off untill we are in posession of all the facts.
I could do with a week without this pressure.
But I love it so.

Monday, May 09, 2005

"She's having a baseball epiphany, She's having a baseball epiphany".

My sister enjoying what my brother kept refering to as "Amy's baseball epiphany". Ms Random Doubt looks on in delighted bemusement.

Those crazy Bowles boys enjoy a crap beer at a freezing Shea Stadium.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Concerning jam.

When I was a kid my dad would make jam. My parents house was blessed with a multitude of different fruit bearing bushes and trees, blackberry, gooseberry, damson, cherry and crabapple. If we felt like getting more exotic, strawberries for instance, we would trot over to the local country estate at Kimberley and pick our own from their walled garden. This was a fairly intensive form of child labour, the type of thing that would be legislated against today, but we were happy to just stuff our faces with fruit and cycle home with boxes of jam making material.
Dad constructed some pretty bizarre bird scaring mechanisms to protect his backyard crop. I recall lots of netting covering the bushes and even a summer's afternoon spent on tall ladders in an attempt to cover the 40ft Japanese cherry tree. I'm sure I remember that.
When the harvest was in there would be lots of washing , boiling and squashing of fruit, sugar would be added and the process of seperating pips and skin in order to create jelly (a clear, smooth form of jam) would begin. I think my parents still have the tall stool that was turned upside down, placed on the kitchen table and used to hang the muslin bag through which the soggy fruit would drip into a bowl. We would also produce the more tradtional types of jam with the bits in it, this works better with more pippy fruit such as strawberries or raspberries whilst apples and cherries produce excellent jelly.
Jars that had been collected would be filled with the latest batch, labels written and the stuff would be left to set. In a day or two we would attack the batch and be ready for a winter of toast and jam breakfasts. I can't quite tell which was my favourite, Crabapple jelly perhaps.
My grandad produced excellent honey but that's another story.
When I taught in Somerset in a depressed rural community I often received homemade jam as a gift from the kids. In the autumn the jars would start to arrive. One kid I remember very well, we used to have tremendous run ins over behaviour issues yet he would keep me supplied with the most delicious damson jam throughout the year. As some kids might bring an apple (yes, it does sometimes happen) or flowers, Iwan would bring me jam often with a ridiculously articulate excuse about his latest misdemeanor and once with a determined explanation that he was not attempting to poison me. He also made the most beautiful labels, coloured in pencil in 3D block letters,"DAMSOM JAM, SEPTEMBER 1997".
I still love a good jam, some friends in Brooklyn have German relatives who make the most amazing jam, all fruity and a little bit boozy. For me it's the breakfast of champions, doorstep toast, great coffee or tea and a choice of good, homemade jam.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Oona King

I'm pissed off that Oona King was beaten by a candidate who exploited her gender within a conservative muslim community in order to win a seat.
Hey, anyone could bitch about girls.


I've been a Labour voter/sympathiser for the last 20 years. We've got a third term.
Right now I shelve the doubts, the contradictions, the discontent.
It's a Labour government.
That is good.
Thank you and goodnight.

It seems to be over.

Should Blair resign?
No, not yet.
He has been given another mandate, albeit slim.
His next task is to spend the next year or so pushing through his main priority, whatever that may be.
Then he needs to begin the handover to Gordon Brown. Mr Brown can lead the Labour party into a fourth term.

Election update #2

If you need up to the minute results, they are not here.
I recommend BBCi.
It's 9pm est so I guess it's 2am bst.
The results are flowing in thick and fast. I cannot blog at this pace.
Despite the fall in the Labour majority (but come on, who the hell thought it would last, nor should it)
More fascinating stuff to follow.

Election update #1

Right, here goes. I quote the fantastic Jeremy Paxman "none of us has much idea about what's going on".
I am loving this, this is the best election in my memory. 1992 was a real trauma that I still feel. 1997 was an ecstatic night of joy beyond the senses (ah, but we were young, so young). 2001 was really , really dull.
This time it's different. This time we are facing a multitude of issues such as Iraq, Blair's unpopularity (I equate this with LBJ in 1968 only less so), but also a good economy, slowly improving public services and a seemingly decrepit conservative opposition.
What we are witnessing is a flurry of fascinating results. Where Liberals expect to win, they lose. Where they expect nothing, they win. Labour hold seats with reduced majorities, a lot of recounts. Tories gain, Tories fail to win seats they really should win (Cheadle?) Even the prospect of the delightful Oona King being threatened by the 'MP for Baghdad' George Galloway.
This is, for the British political junkie, a fascinating night above all others.
Latest just in, Peter Snow's prediction based on real results in as of 8.51pm EST.
Labour majority 68.
We shall see.
more later, I hope

Thursday, May 05, 2005


America is a beautiful place and it has made me a better person. There, I said it.
Before I lived here I dwelt within a ridiculously medieval world of superstition. I am still technically insane when it comes to sport but i have been able to let a couple of other things go. In little under an hour the polls close in the (Yes, we know) UK General Election. I am about to head home to watch the BBC coverage. I shall lay on the sofa until about 2am, drink a few beers and enjoy the scene. I genuinely hope that Labour maintain a strong majority but I am expecting them to lose about 50-70 seats. This will still give them a majority of about 120-100. I used to be all sweaty and superstitious about this. Now i'm much more relaxed. It will actually be fascinating to see how it all pans out. I used to think my world would end if the result didn't go my way. I guess it will be a disaster in the Tories win but, well they are not going to.
I can relax beacuse the result will go my way. But still i have to watch to make sure.

Decision 2005, The nation decides and makes it's decision.

I love the silence of election day. Under UK law there can be no further politicking, canvassing or shouting at tories. No fighting with John Prescott or attempting to install solar panels on the roofs of cabinet ministers. The anti-euro extremists in their old land rovers have pulled off the road. The Liberal Democrats have blown their chances for another generation.
It's time to rest, time to reflect, time to suck it up and vote Labour.
I spoke briefly with my mum last night. I tried to get her to vote Liberal Democrat as a route to destroying the Conservatives in her constituency.
"Oh no, I like Blair and anyway, I'll not be told how to vote by someone who doesn't even live here anymore"( I could feel a lecture about eating vegetables coming along)
I think i heard father in the background muttering bad things about Michael Howard. I think i heard him muttering " but I like the Iraq war".
What ever way the delightfully insane of Norfolk South vote, I shall be home by 5pm and tuned into CSpan2 for full BBC coverage of tonight's results. If you've never watched a UK election you could do worse than check it out for an hour. If you think Dan Rather's wit is as risque as it gets you should definately watch.
Just a couple of soundbites from previous coverage.
Anchor: (interviewing a defeated MP) "ready to drink hemlock yet?"
Same anchor, different election "Did you lie?" (repeated 14, that's FOURTEEN times)
Remember, CSpan2, 5pm until it's done.