Sunday, 26 April 2009

The Fan II

Any regular readers of the blog will know that I’m a man of limited passions. The family, football, Star Wars being the ones oft cited.

Before all those arose there was Star Trek. I didn’t realise it was in colour until the early 80s when I saw it in the common room at university. Before then we only had a black and white TV at home.

In the mid 80s when the BBC said it was going to re run the series, I went out and bought a video recorder so I wouldn’t miss it.

Often I’d come back from my job as a local reporter at the Wimbledon News to watch episodes of yore.

I remember a childhood friend Derek who loved it as much as me. We always liked the fact that it seemed as if you’d never seen the episode before, inevitably you had.

A few weeks ago I had a dream that there was an episode I’d never seen before. I didn’t know if I was suffering from anxiety or something much worse.

I have got the original episodes on DVD now. They arrived in London and as I sit and watch one of the episodes from Season 2, I think surely it would have been cheaper to get the mangled video recorder repaired.

The boy stuck something in it a few months back. And I have not been able to relieve the stress of life by watching old familiars.

My logic is that if I get a new video recorder too soon, the boy will simply mash that one up as well.

So I have decided to lose to gain. There are scores of other programmes that lie unwatched in the video library. I have to wait. But in the interim, having the Star Treks accessible again has made me beam.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Fan

It is said that followers of football are in the main not very bright. And with seat prices at some of the London stadia approaching astronomical, you'd have to be mad to pay for it.

But there's no logic in fanaticism. I think that's the definition of it really.

I remember one tearful day long ago when my mum upbraided me for being obsessed with football.

And many years later as I go swimming and do yoga so that I can shuffle around a pitch, she may have had a point. But then since I'd probably do the same if I were playing for a team at tennis, maybe it's all just about competing.

Maybe I'm obsessed with competition - but in a corinthian manner. That might explain my career as a journalist.

But this isn't about where it all went wrong, this is about how trying to eschew plangent maternal criticism.

I got off the Eurostar this morning and felt the burning need to go to a gallery. Well somewhere other than the Guardian office too early.

As I got on the 63 bus, an Everton fan followed me on. I suspected he was an Everton fan as he had a blue scarf on and his team are playing at Wembley on Sunday against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi final.

After he'd paid up, he was on his mobile telling a mate that he'd placed a bet on the result.

"230-1....Everton to win 1-0 and Phil Neville to score the first goal.."

Now the fan in me knew full well that Phil Neville was once a Manchester United player. The journalist in me knew full well that the irony of that would not be lost in any of the news reports of the match.

The pedant in me wondered about the first goal in a 1-0 scoreline.

If the odds are 230-1 for the first goal, what would be the odds in the only goal of a 1-0 result?

Maybe the Rodchenko/Popova exhibition will take my mind off the conundrum.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Light Sabre

I was on the way back from the radio station and noticed an advert for Harry Potter 6 or HP6. It had the eponymous hero doing his magic thing with his wand.

I looked at the picture and thought the wand is not as hard as a light sabre. You can only look so tough wielding a wand. The boy is going round the flat brandishing a plastic light sabre which was harvested from a Corn Flakes packet.

We're due to be heading to Burgundy for a break - illnesses pending - and it might be the time to start on the Star Wars films. The first three as in the chronological trilogy are pretty ropey but there's lots of brandishing.

And if the boy feels suitably inspired to go on and become Jedi like in his ways, I, for one, will not turn him.

The Non Existent Matchday

Four games to go and our fate is in our hands.

The team from wherever did not appear so this meant a 3-0 victory and we keep our place at the top of the table. It suddenly occurred to me that we technically could go up without having to kick another ball in anger.

But that's unlikely. Sadly such good fortune cannot last. And next week we're playing BNP in the match that should have been played last November but was postponed due to a dodgy pitch.

Then we were a full complement but next Satuday it's going to be threadbare. Ho hum

While contemplating the prospect of promotion I've been tending an ailing flock. The missus has been well ill. And with the girls on holiday, I've had to delve into the vault of galleries that we might love.

So far Andy Warhol at the Grand Palais and Alexander Calder at the Pompidou.

I primed the girls by playing them the David Bowie song and showed them a few videos courtesy of YouTube and their mother gave them a book on Calder.

The Warhol trip was an unmitigated success. We avoided the 37 mile queues and went in, swept through the tons of cans and faces and headed to the Petit Palais for morning coffee and orange juice.

There's a magnificent garden cafe there and as it was a sun kissed spring morning we lapped up the rays after soaking up the culture.

A walk down the Champs Elysees and through the Tuileries to the Louvre to take the bus home was about as good as it gets on a holiday morning.

Better than winning a match without playing.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The DVDs

The DVD rental service has sent me the first four episodes from series 1 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the vehicle of Larry David after he left Seinfeld.

Strangely enough I had seen the first episode long ago on TV in Paris. It is cringingly clever and the plots are reminiscent of Seinfeld at its most acutely brilliant.

There isn’t the ensemble exuberance that made Seinfeld’s egocentric characters palatable.

A colleague who stayed in the apartment in Paris a few years back and who noticed the boxed sets of Seinfeld has given me Curb season 2 and I shall watch away before perhaps buying the boxed set of them.

The boxed set I have harvested though is 400 Coups and the other tales of Antoine Doinel.

This was on special offer via the DVD buying site. It is 50 years since the Nouvelle Vague unleashed their iconoclasm on an unsuspecting world.

The British Film Institute here on the South Bank is holding a retrospective of the finest creations from that period.

Seems de rigueur to dip in later.

It would give a filmic symmetry to the day.

The Gallery

The art of life confounds me at times. The Bank Holiday Monday meant that the starting time at the Guardian was a bit later than usual.

What better way to spend the extra hours than by going to see my dad and then heading up to the Hayward Gallery.

I wanted to go to the newly refurbished Whitechapel Gallery but they don’t do Bank Holiday Monday opening.

So the sunny South Bank was all mine.

Mark Wallinger is curating the Russian Linesman, Frontiers Borders and Thresholds while Annette Messager is doing The Messengers.

And the message? Seinfeld.

I thought of a line from George in Seinfeld where he said something like: “I don’t get art.”

It might even have been: “I don’t get modern art.”

Though I persist in trying to get modern art, I often think about the Woody Allen character in Annie Hall. In a gallery with Annie Hall he says: “It has a wonderful otherness.”

Perhaps I should have extra shots of caffeine to transport me to the spatial mentality where I would really get it.

I usually have the coffee as a reward for trying to expand my mind.

Not good for the gallery but might be good for the headlines at work.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Porter

Must have been something about me this weekend. On the way to London a woman asked me if I could help a man with his suitcase. "As long as it's not too heavy," I said.

On the way back to Paris a woman asked me towards the end of the journey if I could help her with her bag. "As long as it's not too heavy..."

Because of course the last thing I want to become is a crocked Samaritan. That would not do. Far too many things to do at the moment.

The management at the radio station have decided to smash up the house agreement so there's been a day of strikes. I went in not to break the strike but to give in a letter of support to a colleague who's in a dispute with another colleague.

It's not going to end well for somebody. A bit like the approaching UEFA Champions League quarter finals.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Matchday X Postmortem

I have to say heavens be praised for banks opening on Saturday mornings.

The team from BNP turned up without their assassin striker. Unlike a few years ago, his branch now opens on Saturday mornings and so he plays for the Sunday morning team.

This leaves the Saturday morning team short. And though their tricky playmaker did cause a bit of anxiety when he got the ball, there was no one to capitalise on the openings up front.

Unlike our side which seemed to have all the momentum. While I shuffle around the pitch I have these moments where I reflect on the phases of the match.

We might be dominating but we’re not scoring, I muse. How important is it to solidify that control into goals?

Leading 1-0 and being in command always makes me feel perturbed.

The counter attack and slight error and suddenly it is 1-1.

It didn’t happen that way. We went in 3-0 up at half time.

I don’t know if my recent goal shyness is behind me because I scored a goal that I don’t usually score.

Hit from the edge of the area rather than running onto a pass and slotting it past the keeper.

Since those kind of goals haven’t been coming of late, maybe I’m moving into the edge of the box goal phase of my game.

Anyway I’m still bemused as to how it happened and I’m trying to replay the sequence in my mind. I am still quite blank.

The (for me) wonder strike meant that the defender stayed with me. So I started to run all kinds of pretty patterns to create space for the others.

Thanks to my wonderful regime of yoga, swimming and cycling, I feel as if I have the puff to do this.

The other joy is that I don’t actually have to touch the ball, have physical contact with other people and potentially crock myself in a tackle.

The bloke tracking me was losing more and more steam as the first half wore on. Towards the end one of his co defenders said: “just let him run”.

Wise counsel since all my leggy zig-zagging had failed to yield anything concrete since my wonder strike.

The defender should have stayed with me really because I was able to get away from him on two occasions and was part of the move that led to the second and third goals.

Sadly the fat lady doesn’t sing after 45 minutes. And the opposition had a wind assisted rally in the second half.

But it fizzled out and 4-1 was a fair reflection. One of their other star strikers will be back for the rematch in a few weeks.

But by that time one of star defenders should be back from holiday.