Friday, 11 June 2010

So it begins. World Cup at last

World Cup Musings

Three days in and we've not seen many victories, including England. All that antication and we get a goalkeeping error which could cause trouble further on in the tournament. It's a bit of a shame that the Americans don't have the Greeks in the same group because they seem to be having a lot of trouble with grease at the moment, especially on the Gulf coastline. There've been no real moments of brilliance either so far, the only real highlight to my mind being the first goal for South Africa in the opening game.

So your mind wanders to other things, like fashion. Adidas seem to be winning the strip stakes, but Nike seem to be leading in the boots department with about 50% of players sporting their latest dayglo orange models which clash with team colours more frequently than anti-government protesters and the army in Bangkok. A lot of people have a problem with Nike, but I think they are to be commended for creating jobs for 8 year olds all over the developing world who would otherwise have to go to school or play in the streets getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Vuvuzelas are causing a lot of noise, and a lot of people are complaining about them. I think they are ace, if for no other reason than their name sounds like a gynaecological complaint and the fact that they scare the shit out of anyone with a fear of wasps who happens to be in earshot.

I'm sick of the sight of James "I'm morbidly obese. How hilarious is that?!!!!!" Corden on World Cup associated stuff. I do wish he'd just fuck off and diet. The song he's done with Dizzee Rascal is just dire. A truly great football song is this piece of sublime Afropop:

I can guarantee you will be having this tune rattling around in your head for days now. It was certainly part of the sounds of my summer of 1990

We watched the England game at the Shepherd's Arms, Horbury which was pretty rammed, but we had a decent place to see the screen. This is the oldst pub in the area apparently, but more importantly they now do decent beer. My current poison of choice being the Theakston's Black Bull. And at half time they brought out pies and sausage rolls. Snacks made from mechanically-recovered meat, it's what the Empire was built on

That husky feeling

It was the second week of strongman training yesterday. This was the toughest session I have done in a very long time. It was fantastic, and consisted of more farmer's walks, carrying a sandbag and pushing and pulling a weighted sledge which really takes it out of you. I definitely hope I don't get reincarnated as a husky

We now have our new telly set up, 37in of LCD HD gorgeousness. Well, it will be once we get an HD box, but even on nomal old LD it's a fantastic picture, and the football never looked so good. Connected up to the stereo it's like there are a dozen vuvuzelas being played in your own front room. Unfortunately, the first thing we happened to have on the screen was the opening night of Big Brother. Fortunately this was only temporary as it happened to be what was on the cable box as I set it up. This will be the only mention of this vehicle for publicity-hungry non-entities unless one of the inmates is killed by a large chunk of blue ice from a passing 747. It's unlikely, I know, but we live in hope. We need to get rid of our old one, so we'll give it away as it's got a lot of life left in it and it's a decent telly

The countdown is going for next weekend. We go to London Thursday night, have a day in town on Friday and watch England v Algeria at Jane's parents that night. Saturday we head off to Wembley to see Green Day. Oh yes. It promises to be an epic weekend

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Lorks-a-Lordy it's summer already!

Yet another posting in my rather sporadic blog. Last time I did one of these it was February and the ground was covered in snow. It's now June and warm. Summer's hit quickly and will disappear next week according to the forecast.

The football season is over, Newcastle were promoted as champions. We were there at the home game where the trophy was presented. Below is the team doing their lap of victory around St James's

Blackpool, the town I grew up in, are promoted which almost thrilled me as much as Newcastle getting back into the Premiership. I've done a weekend of aerobic in Blackpool itself at the International Fitness Showcase back in March. Here is me with one of the presenters, Kanae Takashiga from Japan. This was after a class of striptease dance, when it was "sexy time" as she said. Who was I to argue given that, by the end of the class, I was the only heterosexual male there and surrounded by lithe women gyrating sensuously?

I surprised Jane taking her to see James in Sheffield and we've had a couple of other weekends away. Below are a couple of pics from the concert, they started with an acoustic version of Sit Down which had Tim Booth and the guitarist on the upper tier of the intimate Sheffield Academy which was the first shot below.

We've also seen a fair bit of comedy (including Lucy Porter, Jason Manford and the brilliant John Bishop). I've also had a trip with work to Glasgow.

Now it's all about the World Cup, Green Day at Wembley Stadium (two weeks) and our holiday in August which I'm gearing up for in the gym.

World Cup
It all starts next week, England's first game a week today. You can't move for St George's cross flags, in windows and flapping from cars. Mostly cars made in Germany, Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain etc etc. Not forgetting the flags themselves made in Taiwan or some other far eastern manufacturing base. Couple this to the fact that they look utterly crap and add to the fuel consumtion, why bother? Yes, it's good to be proud of being English, but not the expense of looking like you're riding in some ambassadorial car for JJB or Sports Direct. Don't get me wrong, I'll be wearing my England shirt when the games are on, I'll be wearing England training tops in the gym, I may even put up a St Georg'e flag in the window, but car flags are pointless, especially when they have ENGLAND written across the red stripe, in case you forget where you're from.

Then there is the Official England sponsors. Carlsberg, the official beer for England, a Czech-style pilsner brewed by a massive Danish-owned conglomerate. It's as English as Hans Christian fucking Anderson, not forgetting the fact that the Vikings, a lot of whom came from what is modern-day Denmark, were also one of the last foreign forces to invade the British Isles (coming over, shagging anything that moves, but enough about John Terry). Mars bars, American owned, relying on a corpulent John Barnes reprising his rap from World in Motion, but now with three lions on his Mars meaning he can't go wrong not on his shirt (unless he is a messy eater). Looking at the size of him, he does look like he has eaten three fully-grown lions with his Mars quite a few times in the recent past. Also, I'm not sue I want my footbal team, who I expect to be highly trained athletes, chomping down on Mars during training, particulalry if any have a dairy intolerance or diabetes.
At least the Official Supermarket is English being Tescos, but what exactly does it mean that it's the "official Supermarket"?

"Fabio, we've run out of milk. I'm just nipping on a plane back to Heathrow to get a couple of pints"
"Mamma Mia, Wayne, get us a crate of Carlsberg and a family pack of Mars Bars while you're there. Oh, and if I give you my card, can you get me £50 out of my Nationwide current account? Grazie"

A quick look at the FA website shows you that the team is also sponsored by Nivea for the metrosexuals on the squad (owned by the GERMAN cosmetics company Beiersdorf), M&S (as well as Tesco's? obviously a play for the middle-class supporter), Japanese Toshiba and Fiat, amongst others.

So, rant over. Don't hate the playas, don't hate the game, hate the Association. OK, looking at the squad, it's probably not hard to hate a few of the playas as well. The fact is it's about getting behind our bunch of rich philanderes who hold the hopes of millions in their hands, while we also revel in the pageantry of an international tournament and watch some true artistry that shows why football is called the Beautiful Game.

Woodie the Strongman

Back in the real world, this morning I did a session of Strongman Training, thanks to my mate, and Boxercise teacher, John Heaton (he's also a champion body builder and does personal training, so have a look at his site if you want more information on what he offers, he knows what he's talking about). Now, little, old, 60kg, 5ft 3in me doesn't really do weight-lifting type stuff in the gym, being pretty addicted to aerobics and other similar rhythmic, gyratory exercise activities. However, I've decided I need a new challenge, especially in time for the holiday in about 10 weeks. So as John advertised the Strongman training on his facebook page I decided to give it a go. Picture the scene. We had John, big, body-builder, plus four other guys who were keen weightlifters, and me (see above). Then it transpires this wasn't to be your normal weights workout. First of all it was outside, and secondly it was distinctly low-tech.

We were lifting beer barrels above our head (empty in my case, the barrel, not my head), the farmer's walk (essentially walking with two very heavy weights like suitcases) and flipping a huge great tractor tyre (rusitic ale, farmers and tractors, anyone else get a bit of a rural vibe to this?). The barrel I could manage without too much trouble, but the farmer's wieghts were, on each frame, 2x20kg discs, 2x2.5 kg discs and 2x1.25 kg discs, with the frame weighing about 12kg. This puts the weight of each about the same as what I weigh, and you were supposed to carry two. It weren't gonna happen for me. I could just about dead lift them both, but there was no chance of walking anywhere with them. This could actually be a good defence if I ended up being accused of murdering someone who weighs twice as much as me and were carried away in a suitcase. "Wasn't me, officer. I could lift them, but not carry them" So I had to wuss out and get 2 more with 20kg on each (total weight of each about 32kg, more than half my body weight, meaning I was carrying one of me plus a few decent-sized steaks). I could do these, just about. Tyre flipping was also beyond me, though with a little help to get it off the ground I could get it over. There is my challenge: to flip the tyre unaided (and if that doesn't sound like a euphemism, I don't know what does) All in all, a great workout which I ended with a 15 minute run on the treadmill. Happy days, though I may not be able to walk tomorrow.

So after all that macho exercise I need to get the BBQ out and cook some slabs of solid herbivore and drink beer.