Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Next Stage

Well nirvana me. The yoga teacher said at the end of Thursday night's lesson that in a couple of weeks she was going to be talking to me about perhaps moving to the Wednesday night class.

This is a slightly higher level. So after 475,000 euros worth of lessons I can step into another plain of pain.

I said we should perhaps talk about it after Saturday's match because I might not be doing any moving for six months.

I went out with a bloke who's thinking of moving from Athens to Paris with his family in a couple of months. Well under the circumstances you have to have a couple of glasses of wine.

It will be interesting to see who he fares.

By comparison we had it easy, we moved cities when there was only one bairn and she was 18 months old. He has two of six and eight.

He said he has cold sweats about the prospect every now and again. That's usually a good sign.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Real Match Day

The UEFA Champions League has returned. And coming to think of it The Match Day concept only exists in the group stages. They're long gone now. But after the first leg in the last 16, you can't really say there's a clear cut candidate for the last eight.

Maybe Wednesday night's games will provide some spice. I sincerely hope so as I'm going to do the weekend magazine on it.

As we draw nearer to my own matchday this Saturday I have picked up a new ailment. My left ear has gone all funny.

I don't think it is the thigh muscle strain working it's way up and out of my body. The missus thinks it could have come from some pressure thing in the tunnel on Monday night.

Well that's enough to put you off train travel. But will it affect my balance?

Already looking for excuses. Clearly I'm ready to take to the field.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Return Journey

Back to the big city from the big city. Have to say the Eurostar journey from London was OK. The three children did their various things. The bit I particularly liked was the boy getting his legs stuck in the luggage rack. He climbed in, lounged louchely and then managed to push and twist his leg between the bars.

He realised the full stupidity when he tried to recline in an even more provocative manner.

It was a two parent job to get him out. I recall the girls clambering over seats, trying to play with door handles and being fascinated by the sounds of the Velcro on the headrests but never being so daft to get stuck like that.

I felt I had failed as a father when I saw the poor bairn wimpering. But once he was out he didn't try it again.

Clearly he's not that stupid.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Village Green

Am I getting obsessed? It certainly looks that way.

Crocked due to over exuberance in a practice match a few weeks ago, I continue my recuperation during half-term with muscular cycle rides with the children to the überplayground at the aerodrome and trots across the village green with the boy.

There's also been the daily yoga practice. I was going to do a practice in the garden on Saturday as it was such a gloriously un February like day. The eldest was all for it but I decided I didn't want to get my mat wet on the grass.

How out of sync is that?

Well I need to do more yoga because I was rather getting into the violence of the match between Ickwell and the other team which was the Saturday afternoon fare on the village green.

I could have had a view from the executive box that is the bedroom window of the in-laws' house. But I decided to go and mingle with the terraces that are the spectators on the bench outside the tea/changing rooms.

The Sky Blues were getting pasted by the team in white. Peter - who lives next door - told me that the team in white were the opposition.

"Oh dear," I retorted.

The Sky Blues needed a midfield facilitator who could turn defence into attack. Now I wonder who I could have been thinking about?

I wasn't quite kicking every ball mainly because I don't think I would have got anywhere near any of them. They all looked about 20 years younger than me even if they were moving with a sluggishness that hinted at a long Friday night out at the Hare and Hounds.

I was eventually called inside for a cup of tea. But not before witnessing the controversial decision not to award a goal to the Whites.

The good thing about watching a match in England is that I can understand the anger. When it all gets fractious in our matches in Paris I don't have a clue what the vitriol is about. I simply don't have that kind of vocabulary.

If I get fouled I simply get up and get on with it. Or even try and ride the kick. The skipper of my team calls it 'le fighting spirit anglais"

Which is odd since I always saw myself as a kind of continental flair merchant whenever I played in England.

As they say travel broadens the mind.

Friday, 20 February 2009

The Countryside

No son of the soil me. But I am embracing the shire lifestyle with a verve unbounded. Maybe the trip to Sainsburys helped me get in touch with my urban side.

Or perhaps it was the ride along to the aerodrome with the girls. There is a playground at Old Warden air field which is simply brilliant. Usually our school holidays don't coincide with the English ones so when we go there the place is deserted. Sadly this half-term is at the same time with England.

So the place was heaving. I managed to get a few minutes on the swings before giving way to some children. But I couldn't do my normal commando course stuff. Helas. The girls weren't that happy that there were others around.

I tried to explain that this was the nature of this playground. But I know what they were going through.

Me and the missus are just about to go off to a country pub for supper. I phoned to reserve for 7.30pm. The pub phoned back to tell us they only had 6pm start or 8pm.

Gosh pile em in and send em out. It sounds as if the Hare and Hounds is wunderbar.

But this is what they do back in the city. Metro manners with fresher air.

But will they be metro prices?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Recuperation

Off for an tri generation swim this morning at Biggleswade pool. The father-in-law me and the missus and the brood.

The eldest decided to race her granddad. I gave the left leg a workout and then did shallow pool duties while the missus did a few lengths.

The middle child was somewhere in the middle.

The effect of the swim was to knock me out completely. But I'd like to think that was more due to the walk round the village green with the three children.

After lunch the best I could do was race the boy to the siesta. I just about managed to read the story. About three pages from the end, he'd had enough. He turned, sighed and shuddered. I read to the end and next thing I know it's almost tea time.

This is what holdiays are for.

The good news is that as I plot my way back to fitness, the team won last Saturday against the team in fourth and it looks pretty good. The next match - 28th - is against the league's worst team.

But no complacency here. They might have a one day hurrah. Anyway that's the target. But then you don't want to overdo it.

Getting injured playing against the bottom team - almost as duff as getting injured during a practice session.

The Transition

Amid the general chaos of taking the children to see my dad on Tuesday morning there was a sobering moment when he showed me "where everything is".

During periods of illness he's been keen to show me the spot. And refusing to go along with it, I've jokingly always ignored his requests.

But given the state of his flat, this really hasn't been a good idea. Given the state of my flat, it's probably even more important for me to do some pruning myself because I don't even know where everything is.

He has problems with his leg and it is causing him a great deal of pain. I don't think it is life threatening but coupled with treatment for prostate cancer, there's only so much the body can take.

My worry is that he'll have to go into hospital and though I love the National Health Service, even I know enough about the bugs flying round hospitals to cede to the realities of 21st century care.

So while he awaits the tests my hope is that he won't have to go in again.

The important thing was that he had a good time with his loud and vulgar grandchildren and they had their usual fill of his food and remember him for that rather than a huge pot of money and lavish presents.

Legacies are a funny thing. Especially if you never grow up with both parents in the same house.

I guess you just get a different experience. Now is really the time to ask what the effect was but I don't have the time to sit and ponder as I am in the thick of bringing up his grandchildren.

What do I look back on and remember clearly? An afternoon in the park? Going to watch a film? Walking along a train platform?

How to describe a non resident parent? I have no idea. It was always just like that. How to describe my dad? I have no idea. I've never tried.

And it's not yet time for retrospectives.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Londoner

Altogether now...'Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner, that I love London town.....'

In fact that's the only bit of the song I know which is well poor for a boy from Streatham.

But during my time Streatham has become St Reatham and wildly unafffordable unless you happen to have been a boy from Streatham who done well.

Well over the years I have been done.

None more so than Sunday night as I waited for the 390 bus to take me from the glittering building that is the Guardian's new home at Kings Place up towards Highgate where I am in half-term residence with the brood.

The new shiny HQ is in the middle of an urban wasteland that would just love to be a hinterland.

It will be transformed. But change is a coming via somewhere else. And we may have to wait a long time before we see the dazzling array of gastro-pubs and glitzy bistrots.

The 390 bus stop is a lonely post. It is on a narrow strip of pavement bordered by a big fence. The traffic whizzes past. And I saw a lot of whizzing last night as I waited and waited. And waited.

Eventually the bus came. I thought the cold had affected my eyesight as it looked like a very long bus.

But nay, my senses were still operational it was just that two 390s came at the same time.

As I was getting off the bus at Archway I asked the driver about the delay and he told me there were problems on the Bayswater Road over which had snarled up progress.

I was neither shocked nor narked. I knew the score.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner.....

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The Vaudeville

I've been reminded of a chance meeting of late. About three years ago in Holborn I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for years and years. He was the husband of a friend of a woman I used to live with in the late 80s.

When that relationship detonated I lost touch with the whole crowd.

But as the bloke was an avid Chelsea supporter we had a chat about the football and were both pleased that Chelsea had won the title.

"It's all going to go Vaudeville," he said as the traffic rushed past. Well three years later. Chelsea have got rid of José Mourinho, the title winning boss and Avram Grant and now Luiz Felipe Scolari.

I have lost interest in the Chelsea project since José went. But the prediction is grimly true.

Matchday IX Post Mortem

The other side didn't turn up. We had a kick about amongst ourselves and I was having a laugh. Then went and did something odd to my left leg. I can't see me being part of Matchday X this Saturday.

I find this deeply depressing as the injury was sustained during an intra muros affair. But that's what happens to top flight athletes.

And that's what happens to the likes of me. Back to the swimming pool I guess.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Matchday IX Preview Cup Day

It's a cup tie so I feel all cool about the game. Cool? Could that have something to do with the weather? Probably. Paris is chilly. It is still snowy in London and that means I had better take a decent pair of shoes with me this weekend rather than the Desert Boots of last week. What a sap I was.

Saturday's game is against an outfit who were in the second division last season while we were getting panned in the first division. They were promoted as we imploded.

So we've never played them. They are doing pretty well in the top flight. Oh grief a footballing lesson is a-coming. And we don't have our star striker.

Best thing is not to get injured and save it all up for the championship. I sound like the manager of an ailing English Premier League club.

Not up for the cup? Oh the romance has gone.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Day Off

What a long time it's been since I've heard the sound of rain. And it is now raining in Paris. It snowed in London on Sunday and the city was closed for sentient business on Monday.

Of course that prompted all kinds of articles in the papers on Tuesday about how the Luftwaffe couldn't sop the London buses during the Blitz but several of inches of snow in 2009 can.

On the way into work I thought how can we believe our leaders saying they're going to extricate us from economic meltdown when they can't get the buses moving.

There's a Seinfeld skit in which he says the worst thing about sending a man to the moon is that it's used as a default criticism.

I guess that's the path I was wandering down. But I stopped. I've decided to watch Seinfeld instead.

Onto Season 9 and into the final few shows

Obviously have to go back to Season 1.