Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mad dogs and Englishmen...

So we're off to England for a few weeks. We planned our trip to coincide with the English School hols (our houseswop guests are a teacher/architect couple who have never visited New York.)We, on the other hand are experts at the English summer. In the past we have dashed off for two weeks at the start of my school break in June.

This year it's quite different. By waiting untill August we have endured the brunt of the New York summer, the humidity, the smells, the treacle air, the mysterious puddles that don't seem to evaporate. The utter skankiness. When we arrive in England it will be like stepping into a fridge. I must admit that after three years here I think I've got it. I'm not as oppressed by the heat, humidity or their vulgar side effects as I used to be. I just move slowly. When I first moved here in July 2002 I was actually physically ill for about a week, I was wiped out.

We were looking at photos of previous summer in England and were amazed to recall that we were wearing sweaters and jeans. I looked online at the weather for Norfolk.
Average temperatures were in the mid 60s to mid 70s. Marvellous!!
And for those American cynics, it won't rain everyday, probably.

East meets West, sort of.

Remember that famous (yet staged) photograph of American soldiers shaking hands with members of the Red Army? That one? The one on the River Elbe?

Well, This weekend Listmaker and Ms Listmaker travel north to New England.
At some point on their journey an historic meeting will take place, they will meet with Weasel, in Portland to watch a ballgame.

I would be jealous but I have travels of my own and plans to journey north later in the summer.
Fellas, from this ole' Norfolk boy to another (and Listo and Ms Listo), have a bloody marvellous weekend.

I shall be visiting Listo tomorrow to pass on a box of teabags for the Weasel. I just want a reenactment of that famous picture.

Monday, July 25, 2005

One down, four to go.

The Aussies beat us in the first test (Warnie must have been doing a f**king raindance in the dressing rooms on Saturday night). Part of me is OK with this, at least it gets those awful Autralian types out of Lords.
I cannot abide the idea of all those bartenders and parole violators hanging out in the shrine of English cricket, messing the place up and complaining about dingoes eating their babies.
Bring on the next test!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Ashes (Why can't we just have a war with Australia and be done with it?)

Close of play on day two.
Australia lead by 314 runs.
England have a mountain to climb (although it's not impossible).
A week from now the wife and I will be flying into Blighty for our summer hols.

Last year Ms Random Doubt got into the cricket on the TV, she was quietly fascinated.
This year she may well learn more as we are doing a countryside retreat/house swop and have already planned our days of doing nothing but watching the tests and eating proper bacon and drinking too much (yeah!)
I have told her that it takes a lifetime to understand it and there is no hurry.
I have also promised her that we will ride our bikes into nearby villages and watch village games from pub benches before wobbling home.
We will also see friends and family and abandon our normally semi healthy lifestyle.
I cannot wait.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Line and Length.

Alright America, enough is enough. This blog has been accused in the past of being a bit 'in-jokey'. We are about to go there for real. If you have no interest or knowledge of cricket feel free to disregard the following.
Ms Bri, I am really sorry, we should go for secret beers some time to make up for all the sports blogging. Weasel, get your arse down here, I've got the keys to the PE cupboard and all the gear. Clokeeey, you may get a laugh out of this.

Today the cricket gear arrived at school.

Today I attempted to teach 20 8 year old Americans how to call 'HOWZAT???!!!' and what the bails were for.
I tried (christ in heaven I tried) to stop them from 'pitching' the ball at each others heads.
I remained calm when asked for the 50th time "how do you score a home run?"
I even took it in my stride when my boss walked in at the very moment that one of the kids got a smack on the forehead with a bat ("Icepack! NOW!")

To be honest, the kids did well.
They totally g0t the hang of defending the wicket without standing in front of it, they understood that to stand in front of it would be bad. They understood getting bowled and caught. There were even a bunch of good strokes. We work on scoring runs next week.
They loved being allowed to yell "HOWZAT!!!!!?" whenever they were in doubt about anything.
Me? I had a blast!

For those interested in the start of the Ashes series, we hammered the Aussies in the first inning of the first test, all out for 190 (pathetic) but then completely failed to capitalise. Typical

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stalagluft camp.

Summer camp is alright, the end is in sight. It's all a bit 'Dad's Army' but it could be a lot worse.
Beats the crap out of having to wear a tie or long trousers during the Summer.
It's just rather amusing how some of the teachers take it pretty seriously.

This morning I had to wait for about 10 minutes to get let into the building.
It was just after 8am and the weather was already creeping up to 90f with 120% humidity (ah, New York in July!).
With me was an art teacher who was Fer-reaking out about not having enough time to prepare her room, how so many of these 'teachers' they just roll in at 8.15, noone works as hard as she does, etc etc etc....
What was I freaking out about?

Am I going to have enough time to eat these three huge donuts I just bought before the kids arrive?

(The answer was no, Best kid in the whole world caught me cramming the last of the three into my mouth as i read the newspaper online).

Monday, July 18, 2005

Ted's dead.

Ted Heath, British Prime Minister 1970-1974. He was PM when I was born. I couldn't
resist playing around with things that rhyme with 'dead' and 'Ted'. Dead Heath.
Actually he was alright (i think).
I met him about 15 years ago. He was grumpy.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

My Appointment.

Time to dust off the blues, get the ensign out of the loft.
I'm Officer Commanding Japonica 5 (or 8, whichever one I like the look of best, I'm three years older than the other OC and will most likely be there earlier than him to collect the boats, my choice).

For those in peril on the sea....

....or broads.
I am just about as excited as it's possible to be. I have just managed to help organise the stag party of a friend. It's going to be on sailing cruisers (yachts) in Norfolk,UK. Sailing on the very rivers I grew up on, sailing the very boats I used to sail. A whole weekend of sailing, beer, smoking (even though we have all 'offically' given up), fried food and more sailing! It's even possible that there will be some beach involved. It's going to be cramped, smelly and distinctly hungover for much of the time. If you've seen the movie "Master and Commander" you'll have some sense of what is to come. I've offered my services to the groom as OC of one of the vessels. I have yet to hear back from him. Watch this space.

Gulag diaries #2

Day 18: Most of the more intelligent kids have worked out that I am only here for the money and that I hate them. This makes life easier. with good behaviour I should be out in two weeks.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

New York 1

Woke up to some horrible news from London.
Checked out the TV channels, phoned my Dad.
Most of the TV channels were full of paranoid excess and massive fatality rates. One even cut to a Nivea ad half way through an interview with an eyewitness!!
New York One with trusty Pat Kiernan told me some pretty flat facts but also gave me relevant NYC info (are the subways OK?).
Good old NY1.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Daily Dancer.

There's some really wierd shit out there.
I guess this guy is Australian.
My favourite is 'The Copacabana'.
The mind boggles.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Bowlesapolooza/meatfest 2005.

Mr Bowles held a rather agreeable meatfest cook out barbie type thing yesterday. This was a rounding up of those gentlemen of the parish whose wives had buggered off to Florida for Schmidty's bacherlorette weekend. Plus a few welcome gatecrashers!

Much meat and shrimp was scoffed and a good time seemed to be had by all, I thought it went pretty well especially considering that it's one of the major grill up weekends of the year, and me, a mere Englishman. Put on a pretty good show.

Thanks to all who made it work and especially for the superb selection of beers that you all brought with you. Not one Bud or Coors light made it over my threshold. I was delighted to see Americans thinking with their thirst. Needless to say the night ended up with me and a couple of diehard neighbours finishing them off across the street, hey? you wouldn't have wanted them to go all stale and mouldy in the fridge would you?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

The Ashes.

England, the motherland, moist and cloudy island at the heart of my inner being is about to enter serious cricketing combat with the old enemy.
The Australians have been loafing about on that sceptered isle for a few weeks now, playing meaningless one day warm ups against made up countries and no doubt drinking far too much and being slightly vulgar.
In a couple of weeks the real test begins.
The Ashes.
For my American cousins I'll explain, very briefly the history and concept.
A long time ago a bunch of colonials with beards and no manners came to England and dicked us at our own game. Some well meaning old ladies burnt the bails (that's the top bit of the wicket, that is, the sticks that cricketers run between) and put them in an urn. They became known as the Ashes of English cricket, we call them the Ashes.
Since then we have played the Aussies every couple of years, alternating between pleasant venues such as Lords and Trent Bridge and dusty mosquito pitches down under.
This summer it's back home to Blighty.
Five test matches, each played over a few days, from late July to early September.
Best of five wins the series.
All five are played even if the Aussies beat us in the first three (which they have a tendency to do quite often).
Here are the dates and locations so that you can follow and see why I am going quietly insane as the summer progresses.

First Test.
July 21-25, Lords, London.

Second Test.
August 4-8, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Third Test.
Aug 11-15, Old Trafford, Manchester.

Fourth Test.
August 25-29, Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Fifth Test.
September 8-12, The Oval, London.

We haven't won the Ashes since 1987.
Australia are an incredible cricketing nation.
Their Prime Minister once touched The Queen's arse.
Need I say more?
Are you starting to see my point?
These people must be stopped.

What can you do to help? I want to start a North American boycott of Outback Steakhouses starting now.
I ask you to stop renting Paul Hogan movies.
I want you, my loyal readers to report any outbreaks of Australianess, anyone saying "G'day" or referring to places of higher learning as "Uni".
I can still remember what the world was like in 1987, before they spoilt it by making us watch 'Neighbours' and 'Prisoner cell block H'.
I urge you to help.
Thank you for listening.

Stepping into the unknown...

Ok, I've linked to a site in Australia.
Now I know that those of you who know me will be a touch disturbed by this.
I know that you know how I feel about Australians.
But hey, it's all about equality and freedom and cricket and rugby and the Queen and stuff.
Those who missed my soccer writing/ranting and pictures of Mr Beckham, he can fill your empty loneliness.
And as long as the Aussies behave themselves then there won't be any trouble.
Besides, he's the only person in the world apart fromUncle Trotter, my dad, brother and wife who have ever even acknowledged the genius of the world's greatest ever movie 'The Club'.
Also, it's an Ashes summer. I need someone to abuse.
He's down there on the right, 'My pies rant' check him out, it's a good sporting read.

I Like 1957.

It's like this, This world is too big for me to handle all it's zeitgiest, the multiple passions and the varied tone of a varied culture. I have given up. Fortunately I have married a girl who cares for none of the above. It is such a joy to be able to comfortably abandon the pressures of the media whirl, the celebrity bullshit, the Tom Cruise nonsense.
I like 1957.

Camp Gitmo

Ah, the joys of summer camp.
You see, for me the word 'camp' has two meanings. An affectation of mild astheteness or a place of detainment.
It seems that summer camp is a mild variation upon the latter.
We have some asthetes (mostly those aged about 3 or 4 years old, they love to shout, scream and jump about and I am in the process of beginning to adore them).
We also have a large number of detainees. These children are older and generally just as amusing but in a slightly different way.
The real detainees are the teenagers who work camp.
They make me ponder on what it was like when I was fifteen.
They remind me how it was to be single minded.
They remind me how it was to be bloody minded.
They make me remember people mangement skills that I had hoped to forget.
Deep down they are good kids, but by god they make my days strong,
they test me and yet I must not show failure to their tests.
I am reafirmed that my vocation is to work with younger kids.
Having said all of that I must admit that the one particular teenager assigned to my command is a decent lad who does what I ask (and I ask, I do not yet have to tell or order) and is helpful and polite in every manner and tone.
But still, teenageness is another world, one that I have no wish to visit again for some years to come.

Friday, July 01, 2005

History Friday.

I know, I have stolen this from Weasel but it's July 1st and I really felt I had to write.
I've taken an interest in history since before I can remember and have studied/taught the stuff since I was 11. There are some dates you just cannot forget.
July 1st 1916 was the first day of the battle of the Somme. The Somme is a river in Northeastern France and was the scene of the greatest tragedy in British military history. Over 60,000 men were killed or wounded in one day. These men walked into the fire of German machine guns. Estimates vary but it has been said that as many as 20,000 men died within the first hour.
The numbers and scale of this battle (which lasted until November18th of that year) have always shocked and apalled me. The tactics of the generals, based upon the notion of 'throwing more men into the fray', horrified me. The bravery of the troops amazed me.
The result of the slaughter? A stalemate on the battlefield but arguably the end of British optimism about the Great War. Nothing was ever the same again.
Weasel, apologies for nicking your idea.