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Category archive: Sport

Thursday July 28 2016

As I said yesterday, much socialising this week.  Another do tonight, and yesterday, another visit with Darren to the Oval.

One of the advantages of my White Van fetish is that whenever I am waiting to meet someone in London, I can pass the time by photoing White Vans, of which there are invariably some and often many.  So, while I waited to meet Darren, I photoed White Vans, and also a couple of not-so-White ones.

Before elaborating on the vans let me be clear that Darren was not late.  He was spot on time.  I was early.  The trip to the Oval is not a totally familiar one for me, so I made sure I was not late by being early.  Hence these vans.

Pride of place goes to the first van, light green in colour, decorated with the regalia of the Surrey County Cricket Club.  I spotted this vehicle as I was making my way towards the Hobbs Gate, where we to meet.  It was parked under one of the Oval’s huge stands.  All the other vans were photoed outside the aforementioned Gate.

By the way, I love what I found when I followed the above link, to the Cricinfo Hobbs profile:

Jack Hobbs was cricket’s most prolific batsman. He finished with 61,237 first-class runs and 197 centuries, most of them stylishly made from the top of the Surrey or England batting orders. And he might have scored many more had the Great War not intervened, or if he hadn’t been inclined to get out shortly after reaching 100 to let someone else have a go.

Anyway, here are the vans:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

1.1: The Surrey CCC van, as related above.

1.2: The first of two snaps with a bike angle.  But, bicycle recovery? This van is for collecting bikes to mend, but not, alas, for recovering bikes that have been stolen.  The bits where it says “We fix bikes” have, for me, an air of clarificatory honesty about them.  Like they were added to lower falsely aroused expectations of daring do against the criminal classes.

1.3: This one I especially like, because I like White Vans and I like signs (by which I mean: I like to notice them).  And here is an example of the former devoted to the latter.  Note in particular: “Health & Safety Signage”.  A big growth area in recent years.

2.1: I think this is my favourite one, of these.  Usually, what I like about the White Vans I photo is the profusion of information that they supply.  But in this case it’s the lack of information that made me smile.  VOITH?  Like: Everyone knows what VOITH is!  But not me.  Turns out it’s an enterprise that makes stuff for cars.  When it says it is “builds its partnership with Vauxhall”, this doesn’t mean with Vauxhall the place (which is very near to where I was standing when I took the photo), but rather with Vauxhall the car making enterprise.

2.2: A black van, devoted to cleaning.  Very wise.  One of the problems with White Vans is how dirty they can look, if only slightly dirty.  And if you are a cleaning enterprise – and especially if you are a fantastic cleaning enterprise - you don’t want your vans looking dirty.

2.3: More bike involvement, this time in the form of a Deliveroo biker upstaging a van devoted to motorbikes.  Luckily, I also like to photo Deliveroo bikers.  (See 2.4 here.)

That’s enough vans.

Wednesday July 27 2016

Last weekend and all through this week, despite still not being totally well, I have been doing lots of socialising.  I now face more.  This Friday I have a meeting at my own home (Michael Jennings speaking about Australia).  Today, my cricket buddy Darren and I are going to see Surrey v Gloucs at the Oval.  Plus, The Guru and I are, in the midst of all this, trying to fix a visit by him to see to my big old home computer ("Dawkins" is the name I think I gave it), in time to beat the Windows 10 For Free deadline, which I think is on Friday also.  So, blogging here during the next few days may be more perfunctory than usual.  It may not, but it may.

On the other hand, blogging doesn’t need to take that long, and while doing this apology-for-not=blogging posting, I also concocted another blog posting.  See below.

This is why I make a point of promising nothing, so very frequently.  Once I have promised nothing, my immediate inclination is to break that promise.  Whereas, if I promise something, that is all too likely to be the promise that will get broken.

Wednesday July 20 2016

My entire day today was bent out of shape by a cricket match, between Surrey and Hampshire.  Surrey were trying to bowl out Hants and win, but the pitch was a belter and a draw was the likely result all day long.  Nevertheless, every time the day looked like it had died, Surrey took more wickets.  It reached six down, and Surrey were in with a chance.  But then there was yet another long stand, by two Hampshire guys, in a match distinguished by long stands.  The game had begun with a stand of over two hundred by the Surrey openers, and the Surrey first innings ended with another two hundred stand, unbroken, between the Surrey wicketkeeper and the Surrey captain, Gareth Batty.  So today, Hampshire six down, with the game nearly over.

But then, Batty suddenly got a couple more wickets in the same over, bringing his total for the innings to six and his total for the match to eight, and then Stuart Meaker got another, and suddenly Hampshire were nine down.  Could Surrey finish it?  Earlier in the season, they got another side nine down but then got beaten by a big tenth wicket stand, so nothing was done and dusted until it was done and dusted.  But then Meaker got the final wicket, and it was done and dusted.

Just now I did manage a posting at Samizdata, based on some photos I took out in the blazing sunshine of yesterday afternoon.

The two photos I showed at Samizdata were chosen for their content, not their artistic expression.  Here is one of my favourite photos, from the artistic expression point of view, that I took yesterday:

image

Mmmmmm.  Cranes.  And roof clutter.  And The Wheel.

While out and about taking snaps like that, I was also following the Hampshire v Surrey game on my mobile.  When I left my home, Hampshire were nearly all out in their first innings, and Surrey were on course to get them in again and get stuck into their second innings.  But while I was drowning my sorrows in photography, Hampshire’s last wicket pair were frustrating Surrey for the last hour and a half of the day, and Hampshire still hadn’t lost their last wicket at close of play.  This morning, the stand went on, only ending with a run out.  Like I say, this was a match which Surrey always deserved to win, but you never thought they actually would.  And then: they did.

Yesterday, I was opining that you shouldn’t let yourself be at the mercy of popular culture, to the point where you start getting angry about sequels and remakes, in this case the remake of Ghostbusters.  But this is the fate of every true sports fan.  He is at the mercy of events entirely controlled by others, and is doomed to constant disappointment.  But, I suppose, there are enough good days, like today was for me, to make it a satisfactory bargain.

And I really am a true Surrey fan.  While Surrey were piling up the runs on the first day of this game, England were busy being bowled to defeat by Pakistan.  And while this was happening, I was wondering how many Surrey wickets I would surrender to cancel out England wickets.  It turned out: hardly any.

So here, to celebrate, is another photo I took, last year, when I actually went to watch Surrey play:

image

That being Gareth Batty.  Man of the Match, and Surrey’s Man of the Season so far.

LATER: Cricinfo agrees:

Batty was not so much leading from the front as picking up those around him, yapping under the helmet and then getting the job done himself. A century in the first innings began his work before two for 78 in the Hampshire reply was bested by a sensational six for 51 in the follow-on. Throw in Stuart Meaker’s reverse swing addled 18 overs of four for 40, and you wonder where the doubt in obtaining a result came from.

But with 10 overs left in the day, hope had all-but gone. At the end of Batty’s 24th over (56th of the match) he walked duck-footed to mid off, shoulders slunk, cap in hand, dreading what might be. Of all long-form cricket’s gut punches, the handshakes after a drawn fixture take the most out of a skipper who has spent the last few hours on top. And Batty’s side had been ahead for the last three days.

Summoning one last push, Batty returned to take two in his next over. Lewis McManus, having started the day with bat in hand, looked like he would finish it, too. But, after six hours and 21 minutes of crease time across both innings, he was finally dismissed to a fast arm ball. Three balls later, Andrew’s outside edge was found with a perfect off spinner. It was left to Meaker to finish things off. Late movement into the right hander did for Gareth Berg, before Mason Crane was the recipient of a bouncer that would haunt the most weathered opening batsmen, let alone a 19-year-old number 10.

Surrey currently sit outside the relegation zone, 10 points away from Nottinghamshire, who have replaced them in the bottom two. Even if Hampshire were to win their game in hand with full bonus points, they would only go one ahead of Surrey. It bears reiterating: rarely will you see a side work so hard to achieve a four day win of this magnitude.

Read the whole thing.

Monday July 04 2016

I am an occasional visitor to Londonist, and I rather think that they’ve made it easier than it used to find be to your way to Oldie But Goldie type postings, of the sort that are not going to lose their appeal merely because they were posted six months or a year ago.

Postings like this one, which steers Londonist readers towards an amazing website, where you can compare old Ordnance Survey maps of London and surrounding areas with how things are now.  As you move around in one of the maps, the other map automatically follows you.  Brilliant.

Says Londonist:

The National Library of Scotland has just made freely available online 16,865 historic Ordnance Survey maps covering Greater London and the south east of England, dating between the 1840s and the 1950s.

Me being me, I compared the Oval cricket ground of old with how it is now:

image

Click on that graphic to get a bigger version of it.

Look how the playing area has shrunk, to make way for more places for people to watch play from.  X in each map marks the same spot.  On the left X is way out in the playing area.  On the right, it is on the boundary edge.  No wonder they hit lots more sixes these days.  It’s not just bigger bats.  It’s smaller grounds.

Tuesday June 21 2016

As I write, this game is boiling up nicely, following an England collapse at the start of their run chase.  And then, in the midst of all the drama, there was this:

Ilanks: “Isn’t there a Ben Foakes being discussed as a potential keeper for England. If he’s selected, England could have Stokes, Woakes and Foakes in the line-up!” Yes indeed. And wouldn’t that be A Thing?

A Thing indeed.  And if Chris Woakes was instead Ben Woakes, it would be Ben Stokes, Ben Woakes and Ben Foakes.  An even thingier Thing.

Today Surrey had one of their best days of the season so far, given what a crappy season they’ve had so far.  At the start of today, in their game against Notts at the Oval, Notts were 82-2, in reply to Surrey’s 323, following a very rainy day two.  But this morning, Notts rolled over for only another hundred, and Surrey (who threw away a similar big first innings advantage in an earlier game) then built a big lead.  If Surrey can do tomorrow what they did this morning, they could get their first win of the season.

I am becoming more and more of a Real Cricket Supporter, in the following sense: that my county doing well matters more to me than my country doing well.  I would not have swapped Surrey’s strong position for a better England position earlier this evening, against Sri Lanka.  I would still prefer a Surrey win tomorrow to an England win this evening.  Although, now I think about it, an England loss would be easily corrected by a win next time, but a Surrey win would be far huger for Surrey.  It could, as they say, kick start their season.  So maybe I just prefer a huge win to a nice win.  That could be it.

Ben Foakes, by the way, is the Surrey wicketkeeper.  I knew you’d be excited.  Plus, I heard indefatigable Surrey radio commentator Mark Church say yesterday that the best spin bowler in England just now, if England want a good one for their forthcoming tour of India, is Surrey’s veteran captain Gareth Batty.  Batty’s bowling today: 11.4 overs, 3 maidens, 23 runs, 4 wickets.  I know, I know, it’s almost too much excitement to take, in just one paragraph of one blog posting.  You’d best have a little lie down.

image

That guy was photoed last Sunday, watching day one of the Surrey Notts game.  I really should, every now and again, visit the Oval and support Surrey in person, having paid some money.  It looks like I should just about be able to squeeze in.

LATER: Well.  I just nipped out to Sainsburys for a loaf of my favourite sort of bread, and while there I consulted Cricinfo on my mobile, one of the few things that my mobile (as controlled by me) knows how to do non-contemptibly.  (Don’t get me started on phone calls.) It revealed that England needed seven runs to win with one ball to go.  So, that, I assumed, was that.  But when I got home, I learned that Plunkett had hit the last ball for six, and it was a tie!  As you will already know, if you followed the first of the above two Cricinfo links.  Fan electronic bleeping noise tastic.

A DAY LATER: Well, well.  Yesterday morning, Notts went from two down to all out, for a further hundred runs.  This afternoon they went from two down to all out, for less than fifty, and Surrey got their first Championship Division One win of the season.  (Follow the second link above for the details.) Finally.  This time, it was the Surrey spinner whom England are likely to take to India (because he has a big future (unlike Batty)), Zafar Ansari, who did the damage.  11.3 overs, 3 maidens, 36 runs, 6 wickets.  Notts lost their last eight wickets for thirty eight, and crucially, went from 119-2 to 124-6, courtesy entirely of Ansari.  Ansari can also bat.  Moeen Ali look out, he’s coming for you.  Ansari would already be an England player, had he not bust his finger thumb at the end of last season.

LATER: Cricinfo agrees.

Tuesday June 14 2016

So I photo this guy outside Westminster Abbey who is wearing a Chicago Lions shirt:

image

Later I ask him what sport the Chicago Lions play.  He doesn’t know, but the magic WWW in the sky knows, because it knows everything that there is to be known.  Turns out the Chicago Lions play rugby. I couldn’t find any Chicago Lions shirts looking like that one, that colour.  But I could find no other Chicago sports team called that, so that must be it.

In the course of googling I also came across some Lion statues in Chicago, and further news of how these Lion statues were made to wear Chicago Bears helmets (American football), and Chicago Blackhawks helmets (ice hockey):

imageimageimageimageimage

Such is the world.  Such is Chicago.  Such is the internet.

Saturday June 11 2016

To you, yes, I hope that you had one, but actually what I’m saying is: I did.

England came belting back against Sri Lanka at Lords.  After sampling the London weather last night, I had a feeling that might happen.  It was not bright and sunny, more overcast and sweaty.  It felt like swing bowler weather, which made SL’s reply yesterday afternoon (to England’s 416) of 162-1 rather strange.  Dropped catches apparently.  Well, this morning, order was restored and SL are now 218-6.  Woakes, luckless yesterday, got a wicket with his first ball.  England now look likely winners of that series 3-0.  The longer the series goes on, and the more the Lankans get acclimatised (following seriously inadequate practising games), the more it counts beating them.  The first game, where SL collapsed twice, meant nothing, I reckon.  I’ve been following the score here.

Deep thanks to Michael Vaughan, who mentioned on one of the bits of cricket commentary I listened to that England were also playing Australia.  At rugby.  Aus 28 Eng 39.  Must have been some game, and according to the BBC live updates, it was.

And before all that, I even managed a quick (they’re often the best) Samizdata posting, about something odd I heard on the radio, about the EU.

Here is one of the funner pictures I took while out and about last night, this one taken at the Parliament end of Whitehall:

image

Great reflections in her sunglasses, right?  On the left, as we look, the two devices she is holding, and on the right, you can just see a tiny Big Ben.  Is that red thing she is holding a charger?

Plus an elephant.

The onward march of mobile phones into photography continues apace.

I haven’t always been blogging here as early as I’d like to in recent days, but today, I did it.

If you had as good a morning as I did, lucky you.

Tuesday May 24 2016

Surrey being in Division One of the County Championship has, so far, not been nearly as much fun as I thought it would be.  After that great day out last year, I toyed with being a Surrey member this year.  That toying is now on hold.  Actually, I don’t want to spend anything like that much time attending to cricket, but what I mean is: I am now really, really not tempted.

The other team promoted with Surrey at the end of last year was Lancashire.  Look what happened today between Lancashire and Surrey, up there in Lancashire.  That’s pretty much exactly what England did to Sri Lanka.

As someone said, soon after this debacle:

image

Memo-to-self: It’s only a game.

Monday May 02 2016

A week ago and more, the story was that Spurs were hunting them down, waiting for them to falter.  But it was Spurs who faltered, twice.  They had leads against both the last two teams the have played, but all they could muster was just the two points.  So Leicester, and most of the rest of the world that cares about such things, is now celebrating:

image

All season long, people have been saying that Leicester would falter.  Now people are saying that this is a one-off, and that they’ve been lucky not to have more injuries and to have picked a moment when the hitherto best teams were all “rebuilding”.  We’ll see.  Leicester remind me a bit of Nottingham Forest of old, who were also said not to be front rankers, and had quite a few players rescued from the scrap heap.  They did pretty well, for a while.

Spurs?  Well, they have a new stadium coming soon, so there’s a decent chance this is Spurs on the up too.  On the other hand, there’s nothing like new architecture to take people’s eyes off the ball.  Again, we shall see.

As frequently threatened, this blog is going more and more to be about the process of getting old.  Yesterday’s posting was about that, and so is this one.

I have spent the morning doing various household trivia, internetting, and then, in particular, come eleven o’clock, keeping up with county cricket.  This really takes me back, to the time when, as a small boy, I was glued to my radio, keeping up with county cricket.  Then as now, just the numbers were enough to tell me a lot of what was going on.

Second childhood is catered to by tradesmen with just as much enthusiasm as first childhood is, the difference between that we second childhooders now make all our own decisions.

When I was a child, a magic machine that trotted out not just county cricket scores but entire continuously updated county cricket scorecards would have been a marvel.  Now, I have it, and just at the moment in my life when my actual life is winding down, and county cricket again seems like something interesting.  Between about 1965 and about 1995, I paid almost zero attention to county cricket.  I could not have told you who was winning or who had last won the County Championship during those decades.  The newspapers and the telly had remained interested only in international cricket, there was not yet any internet, and above all, I had a life.  But now that life as such is slipping from my grip, county cricket becomes an attraction again.

Notoriously, old age is the time when you remember your childhood better than anything else, or at least you think you do.  And the things that had intense meaning then have intense meaning still.  So it is that much of commerce now consists of digging into the manic enthusiasms that reigned six or seven decades ago, and rehashing them as things to sell now.  On oldie TV, such as I was watching last night, you see shows devoted to the obsessions of the nearly (but not quite yet) forgotten past all the time, every night.  As the years advance, shows about WW2 are succeeded by shows about 1950s dance halls or crooners or early rock and rollers, or ancient cars and trams and steam trains.  Often the shows now are about how the steam trains themselves are being revived, by manic hobbyists who have just retired from doing sensible things.

I know the feeling.  One of the best train journeys I recall from my boyhood was in the Cornish Riviera Express, driven by a huge 4-6-2 steam engine (for real, not as a “heritage” exercise) in about 1952, out of Waterloo.  I can still recall leaning out of the window on a curve, and seeing the locomotive up at the front, chomping away in all its glory, gushing smoke fit to burst.  I never quite turned into a full-blooded trainspotter, but like I say, I know the feeling.

A bit of a meander, I’m afraid.  But don’t mind me.  You’d best be going now.  I’m sure you have more important things on your mind.

Thursday April 21 2016

Circumstances had placed me at the Angel Tube.  My business was concluded and the weather was wondrous.  So, where to next?  There is a canal near there, but I didn’t fancy another canal walk, so instead I just walked along whatever road presented itself to me, in the general direction of the Big Things of the City (one of them (the Heron Tower) having been turned blazing gold by the early evening sun).  The road turned out to be Goswell Road.  A place of slightly down-at-heal struggle, where you felt that for some, the struggle wasn’t worth it, but for others, maybe.  That kind of in-between sort of a place.  Not as affluent as you’d expect for something that close to the City, but trundling along as best it could.  Big, shabby-modern university buildings.  Building sites.  Ethnic shops.

And then in amongst all this middlingness, a glimpse through what looked like a shop window, into a world of money-no-object designer gloss and nouveau riche ostentation.  What is all this stuff?

It all looked rather Zaha Hadid, especially this shiny but strange object, presumably for sitting on:

image

And hey, look, there’s a picture of Zaha Hadid.  This is obviously a place that takes Zaha Hadid pretty seriously, and is very saddened by her recent death:

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Zaha Hadid, I should explain, is the world-renowned starchitect and designer, who recently died at the shockingly young age of 65.  When a starchitect dies at 65, that’s like a rock star dying at 22.  At 65, starchitects, rather like classical conductors, are just getting started.  The thing is, starchitects need power, and their target demographic is old decision-makers, so they tend to be old too.

What was this rather strange place?  I stepped back to see if there was any clue on the outside.

Here was a clue:

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Good grief.  This is an actual Zaha Hadid place of work.

I crossed the road, to photo the whole thing:

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To be more exact, this is not the one place where Hadid and all her underlings did everything.  This is the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery, which opened in 2013 (I now learn), which would perhaps have been open for me to walk into had I encountered it earlier in the day.  The place displays many of Hadid’s numerous designs for Small Things, like furniture, lamps, sculptures, jewellery, paintings, and suchlike.

Considering what a wacky designer Hadid was, that’s a surprisingly prosaic building, isn’t it?  I’m guessing that it was not built specifically with her in mind, but was adapted.

So, no wonder that this place now contains memorials to Zaha Hadid, like this:

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There is some reflection of the outside in this next snap, but it gives you an idea of what the place as a whole is like, and what kind of stuff is in it:

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Frankly, for me, all this indoor small stuff does not show Hadid at her very best.  For that, I think, you have to go outside.

Her only building in London so far is the Aquatics Centre, which I photoed, very hastily, when I visited the top of the Big Olympic Thing.  Had I know then that Zaha Hadid had been about to die, I would have taken more photos of this building, and more carefully:

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I would, for instance, have placed it in a gap in that safety netting, rather than just randomly.  Another time.

But notice that even in that casual photo, the beauty, I think, of the building still asserts itself.  It’s like a sports helmet, of the sort worn by cyclists, and by some cricketers.

Even more remarkable is this amazing ancient-modern juxtaposition:

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This is now, apparently, nearing completion.  It might be worth a trip to Antwerp, just to see it.

Zaha Hadid’s underlings are going to try to keep the Zaha Hadid enterprise going, at least the architectural bit.  Good luck people, but you’re surely going to need it.

The rumour I heard is that Hadid was “difficult” to work for.  Maybe this was just an example of that law that says that bossy men are masterful, but bossy women are bossy.  But maybe she really was difficult to work for.  If so, this difficulty looks like it was all of a piece with the sorts of designs she created.

The thing is, Hadid was not some logical, everything-has-a-reason systematic, machines-for-living in, presider over a system of architectural problem solving.  She was the kind of architect who unleashed drama, excitement, at vast extra expense, if what you’re comparing it all with is a big rectangular box.  You only have to look at her stuff to see that any logic involved is just an excuse for a cool looking design.  Why does it look that way?  Because I, Zaha Hadid, say so, and I’m the boss, that’s why.  I make beautiful shapes.  Other people like them and buy them.  Deal with it.

That’s going to be a hard act to replace.

Sunday April 03 2016

Which meant he did it with two whole balls to spare and scored five runs more than necessary.  Here.  West Indies swept the board.  Under 19s, Ladies, and now the Gents.

The name of the four-sixes man begins with “Br” and towards the end there’s “thwait”.  So, this blog can feel some comfort.  It’s only a game.  Which is BMdotcom speak for: My side lost.

Friday April 01 2016

So back on Wednesday afternoon, I said I’d be going out, and I did go out.

I took a ton of photos, including this one, of the Wheel:

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And then this one, of Big Ben:

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And then this one of the Wheel again, and a general view of the River:

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I don’t think I’ll ever quite get used to being able to enjoy a cricket match and a walkabout, simultaneously.

The T20I, as they now call it, has worked out perfectly.  England are in the final (see above) by beating NZ.  Good.

And the West Indies are in the final also, because they beat India.  Even though Gayle was out in only the second over of their very difficult chase.  The Windian Ladies are also in their final.  Also good.

Good because cricket needs the West Indies to care about cricket and to go on playing it and playing it well.  (Indians are not going to lose interest in cricket any time soon, no matter what their team does or doesn’t do.)

Time was when the Windies were great at test cricket.  Then they became crap at test cricket and fans like me feared that they might soon switch their attention to a quite different sort of game.  Well, now they have.  Twenty-twenty cricket.

Sunday March 27 2016

Or: Spoughts thoughts?  You choose.

Sport (spought) has been good to me of late.  Last summer, England won the Ashes.  My local cricket team, Surrey, got promoted to division one, and also got to the final of the fifty overs county knock-out tournament.  England then defeated South Africa in South Africa.  England (a different England but still England) won the Six Nations rugby Grand Slam.  And now (back to cricket again) England have got to the last four of the twenty overs slog competition, alongside the Windies, India and New Zealand.  Few expect England to win this.  But then, few expected England to get to the last four.  No South Africa (beaten amazingly by England).  No Australia (beaten today by India (aka Virat Kholi)).  No Pakistan or Sri Lanka.  But: England still involved.

Concerning the Grand Slam, the best thing about it was England winning all its games, but otherwise it was … a bit crap.  The recently concluded World Cup, in which England did rather less well loomed too large over it.  The World Cup featured no Six Nations sides in its last four, and when watching our local lads stressing and straining against each other you couldn’t help (a) thinking that the Southern Hemispherians would murder them, and (b) that a lot of the best Six Nations players seemed to be Southern Hemispherians themselves.  I mean, what kind of rugby world are we living in when the most threatening French back is called Scott Spedding and was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa?

The Six Nations was worth it just to hear Jonathan Davies, a man whose commentating I have had reason to criticise in the past, say that a certain game is “crucial”, and that Wales have “matured”:

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As for the twenty-twenty slogfest now in full slog, well, I have been rooting for England (England’s best batsman being a bloke called Root), but also for Afghanistan.  You might think that as a devout anti-Islamist, which I definitely am, I would be rooting for the Muslim teams to lose.  But actually, I think sport is one of the leading antidotes to Islamo-nuttery, and it is my understanding that the Islamo-nutters regard sport and sports-nuttery not as an expression of Islamo-nuttery, but rather, as a threat to it.  Sports nuttery ultimately causes fellowship with the infidels rather than hatred of them, underneath all the youthful antagonisms which it does indeed inflame.  It’s hard not to get pally with people when you play or follow games with them and against them, especially as you get older, and remember previous hostilities with fondness rather than anger.

So, in short: go Afghanistan!  The Afghanistan twenty-twenty cricket team, I mean.  Afghanistan gave England a hell of a fright and nearly beat them.  And yesterday, they actually did beat the West Indies, even though it didn’t count for so much because the Windies had already got through to the semis and the Afghans would be going home now no matter what.  But, even so, beating the Windies was a big deal, and the cricket world will have noticed, big time.

Here is Cricinfo, at the moment of Afghan triumph:

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I love it when a T20 game really boils up, and they put “dot ball” in bold letters, the way they usually only write “OUT” and “FOUR” and “SIX” and “dropped”, or, as in this case, “an amazing, brave, brilliant running catch!”

And soon after that climax to the game, came this:

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Chris Gayle is quite a character.  Having scored a brilliant century against England that won the Windies that match and put England in the position of having to win everything from then on, his commitment to the West Indian cause is not in doubt, as it might have been had he celebrated like this with the Afghans without having done any other notable things in this tournament.  He has quarrelled with West Indian cricket bureaucrats over the years, and has definitely seemed to have like playing for the Bangalore Royal Challengers more than for the West Indies.

His demeanour after today’s Afghan game is in sharp contrast to his lordly impassivity after taking the wicket of David Miller of South Africa, which reduced South Africa to 47-5, a predicament from which they failed to recover

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One of the delights of virtually following this tournament is that it has been possible to watch little videos of dramatic moments, like the one of Gayle taking this wicket and then not celebrating very much.  The graphic additions to this posting are merely screen captures.  Clicking on them accomplishes nothing.  But if you go to the original commentary from which I took my graphics, you can click on the little black video prompts, and get a little video of the drama just described.

Also: Happy Easter.

Thursday March 17 2016

Getting properly out and about again after my winter hibernation, as I did earlier this week to Victoria Park (it’s easier to scroll down past yesterday’s Gulf Stream posting than to follow those links), reminded me that there are other major viewing spots in London I have yet to check out.

Such as, for instance, this Big Thing:

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I have photoed this Thing many times, but have yet to actually visit the Thing.

Yes it’s Anish Kapoor’s Big Olympic Thing.  Now that all the Olympic fuss has died down, and most of the people who fancied visiting this Thing have visited it, and they’ve finally finished making it as good a Thing as they can, getting into this Thing and up this Thing and to the top of this Thing may finally be a buyer’s market, rather than a hell of queueing and crowding and barging.  I tried the website, to see if I could buy a ticket remotely.  But as so often with me, I couldn’t make it work.  So, I will go there this afternoon, and see if I can buy some kind of ticket, from a person.  If that doesn’t work, then I think I recall seeing a phone number I could ring.  I also seem to recall the webiste mentioning an Old Git season ticket for an entire year that costs hardly more than a single visit.  That would be great.  I do love to go back to places, after I have looked at the first lot of photos and worked out what I was actually photoing.

Whether they will sell me a ticket face-to-face or not, I will still get to check out the fascist expanses of the Olympic Park, or whatever it is they call the big pointless spaces outside the Olympic Stadium.

Part of the top of which is visible in the above photo, which I took from the footbridge at Hackney Wick Overground Station, on my recent trip.