Friday, 31 October 2008

The Weekend Without Football

Nothing all week. What kind of blogger am I? But this is no time for existential questions. Should be much more analytical really. I am reading The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. It is hardly PD James but then that's not a surprise. The Blank Slate is something to do with the nature/nurture debate. It is well written but I have to admit I am having difficulty holding the learning within.

Maybe I should be making notes in the book but as it is not my book that wouldn't be very good.

I have been out celebrating the fact that there is no match on Saturday. Went out with an old mate of mine who I met nigh on 26 years ago here in Paris while I was a student at the British Institute.

I just reminded her that it was at her party in London that I met the missus. Wow. Connections.

Despite not playing tomorrow I went to the relaxation class. It seemed a bit redundant really as I am relatively calm as there is no family here to make my blood boil as Mr Angry would have said it once ago on Steve Wright's show.

But the class was good I was stretched and pulled to such an extent that I almost fell asleep in the restaurant while waiting for Caroline to come along. She'd been out watching a film while I was communing with my inner peacefulness. She'd wanted to go and see Mamma Mia but it was sold out.

She ended up seeing Vicky Cristina Barcelona which I saw on Thursday. I'm a big fan of Woody Allen but even I'm starting to think that I've heard the script before. It seemed funnier with Diane Keaton and Allen himself on screen.

Nevertheless Allen 2008 is still quite amusing but the man himself on screen and his gawky delivery was joyous.

Equally joyous will be a Saturday morning without an early rise. In anticipation of that I played tennis on Thursday and promptly retwisted the right ankle that was crocked when I landed badly last Saturday.

For the past few seasons I've been worried about pulled hamstrings and calf muscles. They seem to be much stronger - I guess thanks to the yoga - but you can't legislate for landing badly.

Oh the life of a weekend stroller.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Matchday V Post Mortem

Monday already and it only seems like yesterday that I was running around muscularly on a football pitch. Well it wasn't yesterday and it wasn't muscular.

But it was effective. It was a 3-1 victory and it was the first time that I can remember winning when we had four or so substitutes. The point was that the subs were well handled. That's because our ace centre forward was on the sidelines directing the show.

I can't quite remember what the score was when I went on again in the second half but we scored two goals and I was involved in the build up to the goals which was as satisfying as scoring.

And in one instance I stretched a leg out for the ball, got it and unselfishly rolled it into the path of a fellow forward who ought to have scored.

But he didn't. I perhaps could have taken it on myself but I wouldn't have been at a good angle to head in on goal so I did the right thing. Which is just as satisfying.

Anyway no matches until November 15 so we can all nurse our bruises and further hone our warrior frames.

With this in mind I am heading off to the swimming pool to stretch the limbs.

The family is away so I have a heap of time to do the things that I can't normally do like watch South Park online without fear of interruption.

The joy of vulgarity.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Matchday V Preview

One of the great things about relegation is that you get to go places that you've been to before. However the trip to Argentueil is an arduous one. It involves getting to St Lazare, a train from there and quite a hike from the station to the ground.

The pitch is near the river and quite honestly after my last game there I wish some of the opponents would go and jump. I was trotting up to the halfway line and one of them came and kicked me in the calf. Just a little tap. I thought he had tripped up and had clattered me by accident.

At the end of the game he said: 'You know what happened in the centre circle, well that's all part of the game." I said something along of the lines of: "Maybe part of your game but not the one I know."

The problem with the team as I remember is that they've got quite good players but very little team ethic. We won 3-2 last time but it was a tough game.

And that was without the little bits of gamesmanship. Maybe that lad won't be playing.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Matchday IV Post Mortem

2-0 up and pegged back to 2-2. Bit of a shame. I was on the sidelines after being substituted in the first half and I was saying to one of the others waiting in the wings, it's looking OK as long as Renon isn't substituted. Well at that very moment he pulls up with a gammy right leg.

I go back on and we finish the half 2-0 up but with the speedy midfielder Nelson complaining of a leg issue and Laurent, a ball holder off already. You knew it was going to be tough.

What was annoying was that the opposition's goals were totally lucky strikes. Poor goalkeeping. No other way to describe it. But we win as a team and lose as a team etc etc.

Went into work after the match and watched Chelsea rack up the goals against Middlesborough. Great time to transfer my allegiance to Inter Milan -just as the team of my youth start playing like a classy outfit. Ho hum.

Well Sunday at the office was a chilled affair. I took the middle child in and we had a lovely day. She played on the computer games as I monitored news wires. She was doing some maths game which was a spin off of Space Invaders. It was really cool.

She was impressed that I got to level 4 and managed to stop the alien invasion with my additions.

While waiting for various results from around Europe I noticed that Colin Powell had decided to back Barack Obama as the next president of the U S of A.

It is difficult to know whether this endorsement is a good thing or not. Maybe the former secretary of state remains a republican and it is a neo-con plot.

November 4 is the day when all shall be revealed.

Am listening to America at the moment. All that AOR from the 70s or whenever. Ventura Highway. Reminds me of school and my best mate at the time Danny Wood.

Don't know his whereabouts. Another old school mate has informed me that there is a gathering near Reading on November 4. He said he'd only go if he was propped up with some moral support from me.

I would have been tempted to attend but have to be in Paris for a Saturday whiff of work. Didn't even mention the football.

Who would I really want to see after all these years?

What I really want to see is a convincing goalkeeping display.

Might have to wait for that one. As for my role? Just keep ploughing those furrows in the swimming pool.

Don't think that metaphor actually works. A bit like our defence at the moment.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Matchday IV

Another home game. And no relaxation class on the Friday night. The omens are not good. Last time I didn't go to the Friday night session we lost.

This Friday's offering. Dinner at home with the family and the less than relaxing chance to put the boy to bed. For some reason he's decided to become Mr Party Central as soon as his sisters go to bed.

I think it is a logical cry for attention especially since the other two are so overwhelming. Shame really that it is all so late in the day.

Or really quite early evening.

My natural inclination would be to join the rapscallion in the dormitary but I'd probably go to sleep before him and that would defeat the whole object of putting him to be.

It might give me more energy though.

Conundrum time.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Nudes

Before now I never knew that nudes could merge with the very substance of painting. But that's because I hadn't been to the Picasso and The Masters exhibition.

What a difference a day makes. That could be the title of a song. And that difference is nudes.

A slice at the end of the extravaganza at the Grand Palais said that Pablo looked at how Rembrandt, Goya, Ingres and Manet had depicted naked ladies and Picasso went to town on the concept.

Fascinating how he revolutionised the essence of nudity. As this is a big exhibition it will need two or three visits to absorb the full impact. There were masses of people inside and of course the statutory queue outside. Hardy souls waited in the rain for their moment of entry.

The joys of a press card meant that I didn't have to suffer for my art.

Am truly suffering for the art of the midfield. Did my yoga class tonight. I felt well opened up. I hope my legs will arrive in the post before Saturday.

At least my mind is engaged.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Loop

And suddenly it was Wednesday and swimming with the boy. My how we splashed about in the pool and that was after a night in which he woke up to push off the covers and cough and splutter.

At one juncture I was awoken and administered the water but then I couldn't get back to sleep. Oh the joys of BBC World Service. Also tuned into a few South Park cartoons courtesy of the internet.

And sleep was mine. Should have got up early to go swimming but was too tired to go. Might have had something to do with the early start on Tuesday to come back to Paris.

It's late on Wednesday. England have won their fourth straight game in qualifying for the World Cup. This time it was 3-1 against Belarus.

But it's more about the Olympics 1968. Bob Beamon made his record breaking long jump and Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman made their silent protest during the medal ceremony for the 200 metres.

It was October 16, 1968. And all protests since then have been tame. I met Tommie Smith when he came to Paris a few years ago to inaugurate a gymnasium named after him in St Ouen.

He still looked the part.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Matchday III Post Mortem

It was a game of two halves. My the other side looked big and butch. And we could have been 6-0 up by half time. I was one of the miscreants missing a header that by rights I should have put in the net.

On the upside...for there must always be an upside....I set up the first goal or was it the second? Whichever it was what really counts is the beauty of the pass. A thing of such rare beauty from my right boot that I was deeply pleased that it was dispatched into the goal for that was the finish worthy of the pass.

Strangely enough the opposition were a lot better in the second half when they got rid of their player who was able to go past three or four people. Very annoying playing against someone who you can't actually tackle so skilful are they.

When he went off they were a lot better. As if they were relying on him to do the damage.

It reminded me a bit of playing football at primary school. We had someone who was so good that he never got tackled to the point where it wasn't fair. Chris Hardy was his name and he lived with his mum in Dahomey Rd. A feral boy was he and I wonder what became of him.

Anyway we won 4-2 and it was a bit hands to the decks in the second half. It wasn't pretty but that was probably because we lost one of our ball holders to a thigh strain and I sacrificed my attacking tendencies to man the pumps in defence.

Work seemed quite ordinary after all that. But it was action packed with the world cup qualifiers. England managed to get past Kazakhstan and Franc danced with defeat but came from 2-0 down to draw in Roumainia.

It is not over until the final whistle.

Oh how I love a cliche.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Matchday III

I thought that if I referred to the Saturday matches in such a way as Matchday, it would imbue the game with the titanic properties habitually associated with the UEFA Champions League

But will it bring out gigantic performances. One of the pre match shouts is 'enorme'. And no it's not sexually fixated middle aged men hankering for more time in bed with their spouses but the word to describe stunning athletic feats.

Needless to say the word is bandied about in the warm-up but rarely features once the match is underway.

I went to relaxation class tonight and am hoping for another transcendental experience on the pitch. But I won't be closing my eyes and recantin: "om".

On a more serious not the boy has been wonderful in the mornings of late. I have for the past two days deposited him at creche without a wailing and flailing.

If anything the dramatic bawling of the past few weeks has been replaced by a wry grin which says: "Those last few weeks were just a show to outline my thespian tendencies."

The assistants at the creche told me the weeping lasted for about 25 seconds until I was out of earshot.


Which is actually the word to describe the basketballers I saw at Bercy on Thursday night. The Miami Heat and the New Jersey Nets went into overtime before the Nets prevailed 100-98.

Never been to a basketball match before. The cheerleaders, the crowd, the glitterati and the teams. A potent mix. It was indeed enorme but not big and captivating enough to make me seek out the basketball veterans league.

I have enough difficulty kicking a ball into the net let alone throwing one into a very small one.

I think I prefer it big.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Franchise

The NBA is in town and I've got myself accredited to go and watch the Miami Heat take on the New Jersey Nets at Bercy on Thursday night.

I was at a practice session today watching the lithe young men manipulate a basketball. All very astounding. But like anything you've got to work and work again.

So I must persevere with the tennis lessons. After the first one on Tuesday, I felt as if there had been no huge revelation but maybe that's it. There's not supposed to be anything like that.

Will have to wait and see.

Now while the world is melting down and we're broaching the death of capitalism and the end of the United States as a superpower, I have been wondering what music to put at the start of the Sports Insight magazine at the radio station.

It is not easy. Things that I would want to use from TC's Space Music podcast or the Fresh Air lounge series is not really sporty, it's more downtempo chillout for after sports.

I'm due to record the programme on Friday or Saturday and what with the busy schedule of watching NBA stars, playing football myself and working, there's not much time to listen to music.

Perhaps the Eurostar journey on Sunday afternoon will provide me with the decent chance.

During the twilight hours this morning, I was wriggled out of bed by the boy, so I came to sleep on the sofa and listen to the radio, I slept undisturbed for a few hours before the middle child decided to come and grace me with her presence.

There was some truncated conversation about not wetting her bed but wetting the night shorts. I didn't want to get into the details as I might have really woken up.

A financial forecaster was interviewed on the BBC World Service and he said he'd seen all this coming but his regret was that he'd said so far too early. While on the hand he was happy to have been proved right - since that's his raison d'etre as a forecaster, on the other hand no-one listened.

I didn't know such things existed. But I could have guessed as they have trend predictors who tell us that black will be the new black.

Bust banks are the new black. Anyway the forecaster, Roger Bootle, said there'd be an intellectual malaise as a result of all this downturn and that's where I fell asleep.

One morning during the World Service haze, they interviewed a psychiatrist who said that trips to the clinic are usually seen as a luxury adjunct and they were all starting to worry about gloomy times ahead - so to speak.

But far from it, the bust means boom time for the shrinks as all kinds of psychological issues are now emerging.

So you spend your last few thousand dollars going to a person who says no, you're not going crazy, it's the system going kinetic that you've been propping up for the last few years.

Well the shrinks have got onto a winner on this one. Me? I can't even afford the time to find music for a radio magazine so I'm hardly likely to trip hop off to the Freudian headhunters.

But for some reason I picked out Star Wars from the DVD library. Episode IV - A New Hope.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The School Trip II

The school trip finished with all 27 children back at school. Have to say it was more luck than design.

They went up and down the Champs Elysees trying to do some orienteering exercise involving compasses or GPS.

The children were prodding, pulling, hugging, fighting and generally not really listening to the ladies who were supposed to be helping them.

I was exhausted at the end of the trip. Trying to supervise them was madness amid the raging traffic. Ambitious idea for a trip. Didn't quite work.

Monday, 6 October 2008

The School Trip

Haven't been on one of these since ages ago. Then it was going to the town hall to do some pottery thing. This time we're going to Concorde to see some kind of plane.

I've been told to provide two metro tickets for the eldest. She is going through the phase of saying: "La Honte" because that's what they're all worried about at school. Embarrassment. In a few years it will be all about respect and presumably they'll all be getting knives or guns out and slashing or shooting each other over perceived lax of risspekt.

I fear for the youth. I fear for us all. There is a global crisis on. Capitalism just used to be a way of life. I think I heard during the night on the World Service that this crisis could be the end of the USA as we know or understand it.

But another analyst said the country was too robust for that.

All roads lead to China.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The First Loss

Well the same old frailties emerged. The inability to hold a lead and deeply dodgy goalkeeping. That accounted for three goals in a 5-4 defeat.

So it's one win and one loss.

I thought a draw would have been a fairer result. But the referee was a bit odd. The opposition had a couple of player who were quite robust in that they kept fouling. And it wasn't until the sixth or seventh offence that the ref sent one of them off into the five minute sin bin.

One of them who was allowed to stay on hit the goal to send them 5-3 up. No justice really. But when did football and equity ever go together?

Other problem was that there were 16 players and that in my experience never brings a result. And so it was today. Too much shuffling and no patterns of consistency.

Last week we were barely 12 and won. This week we were 16 and lost. Maybe there's a moral there.

Spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing with the boy. The eldest had a party in the park to attend and so we went to that at about 4pm. Her complaint was that she was taken there too late and all the sweets had gone.

No bad thing in my book. Quite why you would stage a birthday party in the park from 1pm until 6pm and had out sweets beats me.

Fruit I can understand. But sweets? Well at least they can run off the sugar rush.

I started to get the onset of the down phase once we were back home. But I nipped that in the bud at supper time.

Me and the missus went out with a Rhode Island connection who is passing through Paris and although it is the Nuit Blanche - galleries and the like are open all night - I'm closing up shop at the same time as usual.

Routine is the key.
It's the all night ex

Friday, 3 October 2008

The Matchday II

I am not expecting a yoga goal this week. Mainly because I haven't been to yoga this week. I was going to go to the Friday relaxation class but the missus suggested I stay in and help prepare for the arrival of a guest from America.

The compromise was that I do some movements in the dining room while the brood watched some Japanese animé thing. It was difficult to get into the zone with the noise of endangered children belching out from the television.

But at least I was going through some motions. Not as perfect as I would have desired but it was the thing to do.

Besides there are about 14 players on the roster for tomorrow at Aubervilliers. In my experience we usually lose when there are that number. So I might just go along to support in my tracksuit and play only when someone is exhausted. That is very selfless of me.

Maybe the yoga is affecting my body and mind. Ah by not going I have gone.

Indeed the space is calling me.