Wednesday, 21 February 2007

You went where?

Four days ago I got back from lovely Bilbao.
Twenty four hours ago I was trekking back from

Or sunny Southend as it's otherwise known.
Now it's a bit of an unfair comparison due to the time of day/quality of camera etc etc etc.
But there's a world of difference between stepping off the train at Southend Victoria to be confronted by a concrete circle of hell and the graceful style of Bilbao. There's several hectares difference between the sophisticated if somewhat faded chic of the sea-side suburbs to the north of Bilbao and the bright lights of the front at Southend in February. And you have to cross the galaxy to find a greater difference than the one that exists between the cool, cultured (if decidedly weird) Basque variations on the tapas theme and this:

Didn't Teddy Taylor used to MP for Sarfend on Sea? Teddy, "I'll defend England 'til I die even though I'm Scottish" Taylor? I could be wrong. But if he was, I get the feeling he was defending the indefensible. Those crazy continentals know a thing or two, Teddy. Perhaps we could even learn something from them about food, culture, bars, transport.
And football. Despite the glory of the mighty Crystal Palace's thumping (i.e. extremely lucky) one nil win over Southend United, the game was of the most atrocious standard (and I use the word standard with due caution). So bad was it that we felt no guilt about arriving late and leaving early. And as much as I loathe the indentikit blandness of Pride Park, the "Walkers" stadium, the Stadium of Light and so on, the sooner Roots Hall gets turned in low-cost housing the better everyone will feel. When the best things about a football ground are the turnstiles, you know you're in for a bad evening.