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Category archive: Sport

Wednesday July 11 2018

I was asleep when England got their first goal.  My urban locality erupted with honking and shouting.  I looked at my bedside clock, and it was just after 7pm, when the game was due to begin.  Sure enough, when I cranked up the telly: CRO 0-1 ENG.  (You don’t need any links.  You surely know what I’m talking about.)

I recall this phenomenon happening before, this time right at the end of a game of this kind.  It was 0-0 at the very end of extra time, and about to be a shoot-out.  Against Belgium, I think it was.  And then someone called Platt, I think it was, scored a goal for England, when I was in my toilet.  The noises that I heard from my neighbours could only mean an England goal.  So it was with Trippier’s early goal this evening.

I am and remain a preemptive pessimist about England’s chances in this tournament, because this will soften the blow when the blow does fall, as fall it surely must.  An early goal, such as England have just scored, is often a mistake, because it gets the opposition stirred up.  It makes them forget any nerves they feel and really play, because they have to really play.  The early goal-scorers on the other hand, are tempted to defend too much and let the other fellows into then game.  And then when the other fellows equalise, they are the ones with the momentum.  Sure enough, as half time nears, England are getting sloppy and Croatia now have a chance.  Well, it’s now half time, but I still back Croatia to win this.

Now, they’re saying that England had lots of chances and should be further ahead.  Indeed.  So when Croatia do equalise, England will be very depressed, and will lose.

Roy Keane, a fellow pre-emptive pessimist by the sound of it: “England got a bit sloppy.”

Oh, the torture of hope.

And the further torture of feeling like a idiot, for taking such events far, far more seriously than anyone should.

In particular, I feel the difference between someone like me, who refuses to get his hopes up, and “real” fans, who do get their hopes up.  I “contribute” nothing to the success of any team I support, as in: like to see winning but don’t get hysterical about.  Yet in truth, the hysterics contribute very little more than I do.  Just the occasional encouraging bellow.  But if England never do get eliminated from this World Cup (I shun the w word) I feel that I will not have deserved it, but that the hysterics and the bellowers will have deserved it.  If you suffer, you deserve to succeed.  If you shun suffering, you do not.  Even if the suffering accomplishes nothing.

LATER:

image

A cleverly chosen name, wouldn’t you say?

For “first” at the start of this, read: early.  And only.

Monday July 09 2018

Last Saturday, in the afternoon, while the rest of England was obsessing over Sweden v England, I was taking the train from Victoria around the south of central London to South Bermondsey, to see an actual man, about a metaphorical dog.  My train stopped off at Denmark Hill on its way to Bermondsey, and there I took another of those inside-a-train photos, with yellow tank tracks on it caused by the lighting in the train:

image

That looks like some sort of helicopter landing and taking off pad, of the sort that they have on top of hospitals.

If this was the twentieth century, it would have remained a mystery, to me, for ever, unless I happened upon someone who knew what this was and I happened to ask him.  But it is the twenty first century, and just now, I googled “Denmark Hill helicopter pad”.  And in no time at all, I learned that this was a helicopter landing and taking off pad on top of a hospital.

To say that I unreservedly love the twenty first century would be to overstate matters.  But it does have its features, in among all its various bugs.

So much for the certainties of this situation, as revealed by the internet, one of the better features of this century so far.

Now for some guesses.

Why the ramp, leading from the pad, to the hospital?

Why not a lift, into which bodies can simply be wheeled, in about ten seconds?

My guess is that nothing is allowed to protrude above the surface of the pad, in case helicopters are blown into it by a gust of wind, or in case they miscalculate in some other way.  No protrusions.  Not even for seriously injured bodies, perhaps close to death.

So, the ramp.  And for the first few scary yards of it, there are no fences to stop you or the body trolley you are pushing being blown off, just a horizontal bit of wire netting to catch it and you, and prevent the very worst, just like the similar horizontal bits that surround the pad itself.  So, take care.  But, as you descend the ramp, a fence slowly rises up around you that will impede any ill-judged horizontal meandering you may blunder or be blown into doing, without in any way impeding the helicopters.  And, as soon as you have got down below the pad, you go under it, into a lift.  And you are in the hospital and can breath easy, even if the body you have brought with you may be breathing very difficult.

It’s my belief that if you look at my photo, you will see, if not all, then at least most, of the above.

I recall reading, once upon a time, that digital photoing is a substitute for really looking closely at stuff.  We photo things instead of really looking at things and really seeing things, said whoever it was who was grumbling.  My experience has been the opposite.  For me, digital photoing has meant spending so much time looking at and seeing things that the problem has been finding the time time to be doing anything else.

Wednesday July 04 2018

Last night, England scraped into the last eight of the World Cup, beating Colombia in a penalty shoot-out.

Here’s a photo of England captain Harry Kane, celebrating the way people do these days:

image

The work of the PA’s Owen Humphreys, the last of this collection.

Monday June 18 2018

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring.  Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England.  I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance.  For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance.  Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about.  I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty.  I tried not even to know.  But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coicidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side.  These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

imageimageimage

On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia.  Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created.  Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to.  He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN.  This is a photocaption waiting to happen.  When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy.  And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets.  This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli.  But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Wednesday June 06 2018

I did a Samizdata posting today about the architect Patrik Schumacher, and his opinion that cities ought to be more created by market choices, and less by planning, than is customary today.

So, London.  Is it planned, or did it just happen?:

image

That looks like a fairly happening sort of place, to my eye.

I love those little splashes of colour, in the middle.  Thank you Renzo Piano.  Here’s a photo, of (someone else’s photo of) Renzo Piano, which I took way back in 2007:

image

I wouldn’t trust just any architect, merely because any architect is an architect.  But I would trust Renzo Piano.  The above colourful offices.  The Shard.

Shame they didn’t allow this.  A case of planning meaning preventing.  Which is mostly what it does mean, I suspect.

Thursday May 31 2018

Indeed:

image

I found that at the Spurs website.  That’s how things are looking now, or at any rate pretty recently.  From the sky.

Of greater interest to me is this:

image

Which I found here.

The black bit is a staircase, and a viewing platform:

… the views from the Tottenham Skywalk will be spectacular. The trek has five core stages which offer different vantage points and experiences for its visitors. The walk starts on the southern end of the western side of the stadium where the Skywalk ascent begins. Traveling up to Level 5, one continues on the external open walkway up towards the roof. This is a pretty wild concept. Supporters and visitors alike will be trudging up the outer facade, carabiners and all, where they will catch glimpses of the frenetic indoor pace of the stadium, while also viewing the vastness of greater London.

Carabiners?  That means everyone roped together like mountain climbers.  So, not just strolling up there, then.  Even so, I just might give that a go.  And I’ll be doing a lot more than “catch glimpses”, I can tell you.  Here’s hoping cameras are allowed.

Monday May 14 2018

Having spent a week appreciating the Frenchness of France, I now find myself especially noticing the Englishness of England:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

1.1 (cricket in Vincent Square) and 1.2 (Prince Albert outside his Hall) were taken yesterday afternoon.  2.1 (Westminster Abbey plus Big Ben smothered in scaffolding (plus a tiny bit of Wheel)) was taken yesterday evening.  2.2 (a Handley Page Victor recently acquired by a friend) was taken earlier this evening.

Wednesday May 09 2018

I had in mind that the whole of this week would be about my recent trip to France, but I find that doesn’t suit.  If feels wrong.  This blog usually bounces around between different times and different subjects, and putting that on hold for a week feels, as I say, wrong.

There is also the problem that I don’t like doing long and complicated postings every day, and all the things I want to say about that French trip are quite long and quite complicated, if only because I want to attach copious photo-illustration to each of them.  So, today, no France, apart from that observation.

Instead, I will today confine myself to noting with satisfaction that, following a disastrous last weekend, when their rivals Chelsea won and they lost, Tottenham Hotspur, the football club that I like to do well ("support" would be to exaggerate ridiculously – I never actually go to games), earlier this evening defeated Newcastle, while Chelsea could only draw against Huddersfield.  All of which means that Huddersfield will not be relegated and Spurs will play in the early stages of the next Euro Champions League, until such time as they get eliminated.  But, bright side: Spurs finished top out of the London clubs.  Chelsea we’ve covered.  Arsenal also got beaten this evening, and are far behind, hence them firing their noted French manager, Wenger.

One of the subheadings in this has Spurs managing to “limp” over the line, by which is meant guarantee to finish at least fourth and definitely ahead of Chelsea.  The Spurs pattern seems now to be to have a basically good season, but to end it falteringly.  Sounds to me like: they’re tired.  Their manager apparently trains them extremely hard, which means they do well.  But towards the end, they run out of puff.

I do that every day, just before I go to bed.  One other thing about my France trip, I’m going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, than I was, I mean.  And I’m trying to keep it that way.

Friday May 04 2018

I have been reading more of Leo McKinstry’s Operation Sealion, and very fine it is too.  I hadn’t been keeping up with McKinstry’s books, but now learn that, among several other topics, he has written books about Alf Ramsey, Jack Hobbs, and the Hawker Hurricane ("Victor of the Battle of Britain").  Memo to self: read more books, do less internetting.

In the Sealion book I have already encountered two little nuggets that were new to me.

After the “deliverance” that was Dunkirk, Churchill apparently said (p. 86):

“We’ve got the men away, but we’ve lost the luggage.”

I’d not heard that one before.

And nor did I know about this, concerning another Ramsay, Admiral Bertram Ramsay, who masterminded the Dunkirk evacuation (p.81):

The genius behind Dynamo, Admiram Ramsay, rewarded himself on 4 June with a well-deserved round of golf, on the course at Sandwich nearby, and, liberated from the strain, proceeded to attain the best score of his life.

I find it interesting that McKinstry seems to divide his writing time about equally between war and sport.  I wonder if he has developed any opinions about how these things relate to one another, along, for instance, lines like these.

Saturday April 21 2018

I reckon that, if there were some kind of competition for selfie photography, this selfie would, if entered, be a definite contender for a medal spot:

image

I am fond of arguing that you should judge a new technology or communicational device or software application, not by its merely average, everyday uses, but by its most significant uses.  So long as the average uses do no great harm, then if the highly significant uses are very good, that’s proof of the extreme goodness of the thing.  Don’t judge telephones only by all the silly but harmless chitchat they transmit, judge them by those life-saving 999 calls.  Don’t judge Skype by people just gibbering at random even though there’s no big problem with that, judge it in particular by how it connects people with relatives who are dying on the other side of the world.  Judge it when doctors use it to do long-distance and life-saving diagnoses, or when an absent father, working abroad, is able to keep in touch with his kids back home.

The same applies to selfies.  Most of them don’t do any harm, even if they aren’t great works of art.  But some are terrific.  See above.

As you can see very clearly, this one was taken with a mobile phone.  Look closely, and you’ll see that there is a perfect shadow of the photoer, just to the right of the mobile phone.

Found it here.

Sunday April 01 2018

I became fixated on Spurs in the 1960s, like a baby goose, because then they were so good.  Plus, I always like their Jewish angle and still do.  I have supported them, strictly at a distance and media access permitting, ever since. They’ve been sporadically good since that ancient time, but never as good.  Finally, that seems like it might be changing.

Today Spurs beat Chelsea at Chelsea, the last time they did that having been in 1990.  Spurs are now in fourth place, which if they stay there is high enough to get them into the Champions League again.  They are now 8 points clear of Chelsea in fifth.  With seven more games to be played, it’s not settled yet, but things just got a lot better for Spurs.

I just watched Dele Alli’s two goals on the TV highlights, and with both it was not just the skill but the speed with which he did what he did that was so impressive.  Before that, Eriksen hit what the radio commentators were calling a potential goal of the season.  One of those long distance, fast and late inswingers.

So, to celebrate, here is a photo I took of the new Spurs stadium, which will get moved into next season or thenabouts.  It will be a few games before the Spurs team settles in and starts enjoying their home advantage whenever they play there.  But judging by how well they did this season at the at first unfamiliar Wembley, it shouldn’t take them too long to settle into New White Hart Lane.

So, this is how New White Hart Lane was looking last November, with one of the Walthamstow reservoirs in the foreground:

image

Mmmm.  Cranes.

I haven’t checked progress more recently, and can offer no photos from since then.  But here are 103 more pictures, and counting, of New White Hart Lane’s progress.  I knew you’d be excited.

Friday March 30 2018

This Friday’s Other Creature is this:

image

Found it here.  Thank you Clarissa for telling me about this.

It’s all in connection with Australian Ball Tampering.

My favourite factual discovery re this rumpus: Cricket Australia has a Head of Integrity.  Reminds me of this guy.

Monday March 19 2018

For two reasons.  First, England came second to bottom, which is not the usual arrangement at all.  It is now being said that they were tired, from playing too much rugby for their clubs and before that for the British Lions.

But the other reason this was a strange end to the Six Nations was the weather.  The last weekend of the Six Nations is supposed to be a day where all we rugby couch potatoes celebrate that Winter is well and truly over, that Spring is here, and that we can finally rise up out of our couches and venture out properly into the first serious sunshine of the new year, for hours at a time.

Instead, along with England doing really badly in the rugby, it was like this:

image

Click on that to get the bigger picture.  That’s GodDaughter2 weekending out in the countryside, in Hampshire or some such county out there.  That photo was taken by her, on the same day that England got beaten by Ireland at Twickenham, where it also snowed.  Which was all part of why England did so badly, I think.  For Ireland, the worse the weather is the better they like it.

According to the short-term weather forecasters, who are the only weather forecasters I take seriously, this second cold snap will soon be done, and then Spring can finally get started.

Wednesday February 28 2018

Twitter is good at telling you about news, and today, the news has been: snow.  I know.  Who saw that coming???  Apart from the short-term weather forecasters, I mean.

Here are some snow pictures:

image

That would be a photo of the Shard.  Would be because it is mostly a photo of snow, and the Shard is only just make-out-able behind the snow.

Here are two more conventional snow photos, where you can see buildings but very boring ones, the ones outside my kitchen window:

imageimageimage

On the left, the snow descends.  On the right, my neighbours make a bendy triangle of footmarks.  I didn’t find those photos on Twitter, for I took them myself.

Without doubt my favourite snow-photo today was this:

image

Says @MisanthropeGirl: Satisfying.  I agree.

But if we are talking about snow and cold, nothing since then has touched 1963.  According to that story, in 1963 the sea froze.

Ah, 1963.  Marlborough lost its entire hockey season that term, early in 1963.  The frustrated school hockey captain was a famed future hockey international.  I still regret that I never got to see him play.

It gets worse.  That Christmas, the “house”, Littlefield, where I was a boarder at Marlborough College Marlborough Wilts, got burnt down, just before the “spring” term began.  We lived in huts, like prisoners of war.  The dormitory was another hut.  I had a hot water bottle.  When other Littlefieldsmen first saw this hot water bottle they sneered, but they were soon wanting to hire it from me, but I wasn’t having that.  I needed it in my bed.  And I distinctly remember, one morning, that this hot water bottle, in my bed, in the morning, had … frozen.  I swear.  There were icicles in it.

So, February 2018, I spit on your cold.  Your cold could not even freeze my spit.

Sunday February 25 2018

Said Sir Clive Woodward, no less, yesterday morning: England will return from Scotland comfortable winners.

Oops.