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 CupIt 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.