Sunday, 18 June 2006

Your feet are the gateway to the soul

And my gates are in an awful state.
Turns out I'm not quite fit enough yet. And I think it's a bit more than twelve miles. At least I hope so because including diversions in Deptford (not well sign posted) it took four hours twenty to walk to London Bridge. At that point my body had just about given up.
The beta-blockers are really doing their job, the average heart rate was 97 with the highest being 107. Without the drugs it would extremely high (still doesn't make this kind of walk a good idea though). Walking back from the station to the flat (around 25 very long minutes indeed) the average heart rate was 109 and the highest being 127. Weird.
Anyway, I may bore myself with some other details about the walk later. For now, I'm going to soak my feet. Again.

Friday, 16 June 2006

Windows are dangerous things

Well, kind of.
As part of my recovery I've been building up the walking. I suppose it's an attempt to force the weight off. So far it's involved going east, to Crossness a couple of times (and routes along the way) and Beckton today (which technically involved going west to start with and of course if you go east then you have to come west to get home and anyway technically Crossness and Beckton are variants of north-east from here).
Tomorrow I think I'll check out the fitness levels. Tomorrow morning, early, very early, I'm going to head for one of the sights visable from my living room window. Tomorrow I'll walk to the London Eye. Should only be about twelve miles. At current speeds it should only take me between three and four hours.
Living next to the river (albeit a cheaper part of it) has made me slightly obsessed by it, by travelling on or alongside it. I've just been looking at a website of a man who has attempted to create a Dave Gorman style challenge to walk the length of the path, setting down rules for the journey but the last two stages remain incomplete (and the website hasn't been updated for two years). Perhaps he got bored. Perhaps I will too.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

This is now.

And England (soon to officially change our nation's name to Engerland) have finally struggled past mighty Trinidad and Tobago. We huffed and we puffed and we finally blew in the house of paper. Only took about eighty five minutes for the love of god (small g deliberate).
And in contrast to ten years ago, the flats all around are alive with the sound of cheering. Loud and sustained too. Even now I can hear a distant stero blaring out 'Vindaloo' (those of you not from our fair isle might wish to research Fat Les on Google/Wikipedia/iTunes and the like).
In fact virtually every goal in the competition has been cheered so far although it is somewhat heart warming (in a one-dimensional male kind of way) that England is extremely well supported in what is a culturally diverse area.
Now if only we had a team that reflected this level of support...

That was then...

Ten years ago I was living in Glasgow. For those of you who don't remember, ten years ago the European Championships were being held in England (ah the irony). When it got to the semi-final my street, Langside Road, roared in collective excitement when Southgate missed the all important penalty in the all important penatly shoot out and Germany progressed to the final. Scotland loved it. I resolved to leave.
That said, I was fairly loud in celebration of Shearer's early goal. It was probably revenge. Even my tub of Sommerfield's strawberry ice-cream and all the Marlboro light's in the world (plus one or two other things, cough, cough, fear not I don't do that sort of thing anymore) weren't going to pick me up.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Right, now the picture thing really is back up and running

This is my nephew, Ben. Tomorrow he will be two months old, no one expected him to live for an hour. He is my little miracle (well, actually my brother and his wife's but you get the idea).

My role in his life is minimal so far. Due to my illness and his we have not been able to meet up. I'm not able to go to Armagh from London just yet and strangely, Ben hasn't learnt to drive yet. Still, the one contribution I have made is to supply him with enough Crystal Palace kits to see him through his first year.
Look kid, if you end up hating football, I will understand. If you end up loving football but hating Crystal Palace, well lets just say that we've all been there.

There is something self-fulfilling about dressing up children in football kits but as the song sung by a gay icon and adapted by some many burly football fans, que sera sera. He will make his own mind and my brother and I can only try to influence his choice for the best. But for those of us amazed and thrilled that he's alive at all, what will be, will be and two months on we should all be happy about that.

Although it only took 30 minutes

to go from
to this
Mind you, even on that first one, central London is obscured by the rain clouds drawing in. It's almost back to normal although the Eye is still obscured. Just.

Another quiet day by the river

Yeah, if I bought that I'd be cross too

"Is it worth it?" once asked Elvis Costello. "Der dum de dum di di dum, it's just a rumour that's been spread around town, somebody said that people get killed in the results of their shipbuilding."
"Why?" I hear you ask. "I have no idea," I reply.
But once thing worries me about the strange rise of World Cupitis. And it's the George Cross, the England flag. I don't mind people buying it and displaying it. What I genuinely don't understand is why people who claim to be so patriotic need to have the Geroge Cross that has England written across it in large letters. We know. We understand. We live in the country. We know what the flag is. Buy the one that actually is the flag. And don't get the ones that have a sponsor (ie the Sun or the News of the World) or the name of the shop writ large upon it (JJB being the main culprit here).
This has pointlessly troubled me since, that rare creature, the Olympic medal winning English athlete, instead of reaching for the union flag, goes for the Geroge Cross from a spectator who bought it in the sports supermarket advertised in the bottom right hand corner of the self-same flag. National pride? I think not.

Good flag (well, within reason)
Bad flag
Very naughty flag

It's a good job I'm ill

The great quest is but a few minutes away from starting. I have bought a desk, a cheap desk, a self-assembly desk but a desk that the store said can only be delivered. It will turn up today. I was given a time. Well, in truth it could be any time between 8 and 6.
So, today I shall sit and wait. And wait. And wait. And time my trips to the toilet very carefully.
Wish me luck.

Dear Mr Blogspot

Any chance of letting me post some pictures? They're really nice ones. Go on. Please?

Sunday, 11 June 2006

Well, obviously, you know, I mean...

I know it was hot out there but we'll try not to let it affect the blog, obviously. Spirit is like, you know, high in the camp and we'll put our difficulties behind us as we've got fifty posts in the bag. It don't matter how you get there, getting there is the key thing.
Now, if you don't mind I'm suffering from World Cup Fatigue, a worrying illness which prevents the sufferer from being able to concentrate fully on three football matches per day. I spent most of the Netherlands - Serbia & Montenegro game putting up curtains in the living room. And an entire match later I still can't decide whether or not to pull them down and start all over again.
The only known cures for this illness is to spend an hour watching Space 1999 on ITV4 (Seriously, are their channels breeding? ITV4 is basically the spawn of Lou Grade thirty years on. ITV4? ATV4 more like. Ah, those were the days) and three hours in the sun.
I tried the sun option this morning walking from here to there to buy the bloody curtains. I took the Thames Path away from Woolwich (and that's a good thing I hear you say) and towards Thamesmead (and that's no so good). In fact the Path is fantastic, especially early on a Sunday morning (all right before 10). Even when it gets to the much loathed Thamesmead, the buildings aren't as disasterous as one is led to believe although they are startingly unorignal. And at the least the Path itself is as wide there as it is anywhere else along the river. The Thames was quite this morning and although it is a working section of water it seemed calm and beautiful. I prefer it around here with its wide open stretches, low rise buildings (if any) and long views all around.
From here to there meant going to Crossness (three miles) to kill the time before the shops opened, and back to the shops (Argos! Please don't judge me by my cheapness, it has a reason) before taking the long way round back to the Thames.
So, if there is a point it's this:
Space 1999 is as rubbish as everyone belives. Thamesmead might not be. The World Cup takes more energy to watch than to play.
One of those might be inaccurate. In the best traditions of modern television, I'll let you decide.

Saturday, 10 June 2006

The unlaid plans of Mike and Ben or How I learned to stop worrying and love the World Cup

Guide to not worrying:

Focus all your frustrations on the pathetic foibles of the commentators. Two games on ITV later. Oh my god, I think my brain is going to explode.

And on with the show:

Right. Have now lost three stone since the start of February. On my early morning walk I tried a bit of jogging. Emphasis on the 'bit'. Not sure how long I lasted, I suspect it was under two minutes. I don't understand the jogging bit. I think I was going too fast, not a sprint, but definately a run rather than a jog. I get the impression that if I slow it down to a job it will the equivalent of a plane not going fast enough to stay in the air and my body will stall.
In the mean time... I'm thinking about joining a gym but I'm worried about paying £20+ per month to use the exercise bikes and I'm not buying one in case I have to move fairly soon. I think I'll just up the walking again instead.
All of which should be a blessed relief while three games are on each day during the first two weeks of the World Cup. Lengthy walk in the morning. Sofa action in the afternoon and evening.
And to exercise my hands I'll be keeping a firm grip on the remote control and testing my reflexes. Anytime someone from ITV tries to speak, mute goes on. Pre-match and half-time, change channel or get up and do something else (carpet needs cleaning, yikes!). Post-match? Well, I think I'll try making my own mind up. I'm a grown man, I can concoct my own opinions, thank you very much, using the evidence placed in front of me by the miracle of television.
Listen to the pundits? Christ, that's as bad as listening to a phone-in. Just think, a world without Garth Crooks, Clive Tydlesly (don't know how to spell your surname and I'm certainly not going to demean myself by looking it up and Clive your Telegraph column is poor as well, why do any research when you can write about the same two or three teams all the time?), Gaby Whatherface, Ally McCoist, Boring Boring Shearer, Lineker (is he stupid, arrogant or merely homophobic?) and the rest.
Makes me wish I had Sky Sports so I could watch the West Indies vs India Test Match whilst listening to the football in Radio 5live (stupid name, reasonable commentators).
Failing that, I'll go and get a life.

Garth Crooks

As much ability for "post-match" interviews as Sally "How do you feel?" Gunnell. The BBC continues to employ this Yoda wannabe. Today's gem? A poor second half performance from England and although Paraguay never really threatened it all got a bit tense and nervous. So, Garth has quite a period of time to prepare his questions, to think of something intelligent to ask, possibly about tactics or motivational techniques. And what do we get?

"The Trinidad and Tobago game is a must win game. Will you be looking for a better performance?"

Er, back to the studio for some analysis. What the fuck do you think Garth? You talentless free-loading bastard. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded you have been gifted a post-playing career. Can you actually learn how to do it properly?

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

Never Mind The Running Time, Here's The Ruler

Buy a film guide, such as Time Out's Film Guide and marvel at the thousands of pages and bitchy comments about films that you once thought were kind of all right really. Then let your imagination run away with you and leap from page to page looking at random entries.
Find a silent film. Look for the running time. In it's place is the length of the film in feet. So, The General is around 7500 feet. Try putting that on the poster. You'll be telling me next that they had no sound as well.
It interests me when people do things differently and it depresses me when something new takes on old fashioned characteristics. Take the ferry up to London. Tomorrow morning I'll board the 7:30 from Woolwich Arsenal Pier to London Bridge. Lots of other people will get there or further up the river. What will they do? Read a paper. Avoid eye contact with everyone else (except to scare them away from sitting anywhere near them), tut at those wearing something other than a suit and so on. All the conventions of the train adapted to the river. It's a new way of getting to work. We had a chance to do something different. We fucked it up.