Posts Tagged ‘london’
I’ve put down some words of advice for nervous London Marathon runners. It’s so indispensable it will probably be read out over a loudspeaker on the start line on Sunday. Regular readers will recognize it as a amalgamated revival of some posts I wrote a year ago. I would say about 50% of the text is new so you may just want to read every other word. Here it is.
Rhythmic gymnastics is one of only five Olympic sports that has sold out all its sessions in the first ticket drive for the 2012 Games in London. Far be it from me to question one of the events under the great Olympian umbrella, but really? I like ribbon as much as the next person, but really really? Isn’t it just women dancing with stuff?
Perhaps Britain is home to a covert community of rhythmic gymnastic enthusiasts. People who gather cravenly in underground car parks to throw a ball in the air, do a roly-poly, and then catch the ball again.
See. It’s easy.
The relationship between my cat and its tail fascinates me. He can lie down curled up in a partial coma dreaming about streams of Whiskas, while his tail will thrash about as if bothered by an invisible horsefly. It’s like Henry and his appendage are two distinct entities, welded together by chance, with different hopes and aspirations from life.
For the same reason Carlo Ancelotti‘s left eyebrow holds me in similar thrall. Normally an eyebrow and its owner work in conjunction to create expressions of surprise or quizzicality or if you’re Roger Moore, imminent sex with a woman in a safari suit.
But the hairy arch that lives above Carlo’s eye is an independent spirit, a maverick among eyebrows, leaping about wilfully as his landlord chunters through the mundanities of his profession. “It was important to maintain our concentration today” Ancelotti explains as his eyebrow bounces around like a Tizer-charged child on a bouncy castle.
When Ancelotti settles down for the night his eyebrow makes his escape into the west London night, to hit the grogshops and speakeasys of Chelsea town with Enrique Iglesias‘ mole. He’s frequently asked for photos from fans, mainly from people who’ve mistaken him for Gary Neville‘s moustache. But he doesn’t mind. He’s free.
Everyone needs a story these days and it’s not just X Factor contestants. It seems that isn’t enough for an Olympic mascot to turn up at the opening ceremony, bumble around a bit and wave to some schoolchildren. The London 2012 mascots were launched today together with the charming tale of their genesis. And it’s not set inside a circle of beanbags and flipcharts in a glass-walled office of some Soho advertising agency.
It seems that they were manufactured from the stolen offcuts of a Bolton steelworks by someone who looks a bit like former Labour minister Charles Clarke. For reasons only known to Charles Clarke, he creates the pair only with one eye each. It’s a fact that takes on sinister possibilities when an eager advertising goon tells Claire Balding on The One Show that the Cyclops feature is designed to house a miniature camera.
The launch is inevitably the cue for widespread wailing that they are not fluffy enough or British enough or anatomically correct enough. And then deluge of unfavourable comparisons: they look like the contents of Robocop’s handkerchief or the stricken victims of an Atlantic oilslick or the iridescent bastard children of a skittle and Gordon Brown.
People shouldn’t get so fed up. It doesn’t really matter what they look like. As Berlino the Bear proved at last summer’s World Athletics Championship, it’s the person inside that counts:
I always wake with butterflies fluttering about my stomach on the first morning of an Ashes series. But they seemed more energetic than ever today. In fact I had to duck into Caffe Nero on my walk to the bus stop to deposit said butterflies into one of their facilities.
Looking at the charcoal skies in London I wasn’t particularly hopeful that we’d have play out west in Cardiff. I spent three years there and I’m still drying out my wardrobe from the frequent rainshowers.
I made the necessary mental preparations to reconcile myself to the fact that I would only be able to follow the action via internet updates. My provider of choice is Cricinfo, largely for the sheer wonderful volume of statistical analysis. There is little in the world that is more satisfying than witnessing the first class average of a particular batsman tick over by 0.01 of a run. Live.
But the biblical deluge that smote London yesterday evening created a minor tsunami which battered the systems room at my office and sozzled all the computer circuits. Which also created a minor flood down my cheeks.
Never fear. So to the mobile which also cunningly contains Cricinfo. The slightly irksome difference is that you have to pay. Quite a lot of money. If I compared the cost of mobile internet connection to my daily salary, I’d probably make the depressing discovery that I’d actually paid to be at work today.
Maybe it was worth it though. Following the cricket on a mobile phone is strangely involving. I can still hate Peter Siddle through a tiny rectangle of text. With his idiotic triangle of fluff under his bottom lip. He may as well have ‘twat’ written on his chin.
And I still experienced the vertiginous nausea that a rollercoaster day of Test cricket such as today can cause (and Twenty20 can’t). You’ll read more informed analysis of the day’s play in the papers and other blogs but suffice it to say that both captains will be satisfied. And Strauss will be particularly encouraged that there seems to be rich rewards from seam and turn to be harvested by his multi-faceted bowling attack.
Game on. Ashes on.
There are two World Darts Championships in the sporting calendar and they happen virtually simultaneously just after Christmas. It creates a kind of darting chemical reaction, the primary result of which is a massive surge in interest in the sport. Visit any good sporting emporium in the New Year and the darts will be flying out of the door. So watch yourself.
It’s the reason why Great Britain is so rubbish at the Winter Olympics.
My friends and I are impressionable folk: we get caught up in the whole craze. So we get tooled up with our arrows and head down to the nearest suitable establishment. Which is the Princess Alice pub on Commercial St in East London.
We were down there other night cheering on a 59-dart finish or a checkout of 4, when I became aware of a pair of unsavoury-looking types lurking near to the oche. They looked suspiciously at us: and it didn’t seem to be just the standard of darts. Worried speculation grew amongst our mob that we may have inadvertently stepped on the darting manor of some latter-day Krays. Or more frightening still, Mitchells. So we hurriedly finished our game and waved them onto the dartboard. It transpired then that they weren’t Cockney gangsters at all. They weren’t even from London.
They’d flown in that afternoon from Vienna on what they called their ‘London Dart-Exkursion’, which roughly translates from the Austrian as ‘a trip to London to play darts’. And they were catching the night flight that evening back from Stansted to their homeland.
They wanted to play in the East End: they considered here to be the cradle of darts. So they found the Princess Alice on the internet and over they came. I think they expected wall-to-wall dartboards and possibly Eric Bristow somewhere in the vicinity. Instead they found one mouldering board and me, who had just thrown 27 darts at double one. And it’s my favourite double.
I hadn’t realised that there was a tradition of darts in Austria, but I had a peek on Wikipedia and there’s an entire category page dedicated to ‘Austrian darts players’. Admittedly I’ve never heard of any of them, including the improbably-named Didi Burger, who I’m sure I ate once in KFC.
Eventually we joined our continental comrades in a game and I was pleased to discover that they were equally as inexpert as us. Kinship in incompetence.
We promised to visit their website. They explained that they’d only had one hit in three years. Which is the sort of the point of this post. I reckon with the volume of traffic that this blog gets we can at least double that. So here it is.
You can check out the photos of the night. Some of the pub. Some of the action. Some slighty suspicious ones of girls who don’t look as if they know they’re being snapped. And one of some crocusses. Of course.