Tag Archives: World Cup 2010

Society is All But Rude, To This Delicious Solitude

1 Jul

Now that both of my football teams are out of the World Cup, I’m going to take a short break from sports-related posts. Before doing so, though, I would like to clarify there’s little more satisfying than seeing one Mister Cristiano Ronaldo taken down like a Saddam Hussein statue (not literally, of course, I believe he has his Nike likeness placed prominently amongst the gladioli in his front garden). First he was a winker and now he is a spitter. I’m curious why he keeps choosing offenses that make The Sun’s headline writers’ jobs so easy for them.

If like me, you’ve suddenly got a lot more time to spend doing things other than watching men run around on the telly, you may be in the market for a new hobby. Some of you may also feel a bit guilty about all the additional bile you’ve released into the atmosphere after the last match and are wondering what you can do to counteract your carbon footprint. Look no further as I have a solution for you that will not only keep you busy but will also benefit the environment, and that hobby is gardening.

Before you pooh-pooh it by assuming that only old age pensioners are interested in gardening, I would like to assure you that it’s an ideal hobby for concerned citizens of any age.  Now that I’ve proved my point, let me discuss its benefits.

Clearly the first benefit of gardening is that it gives you something to do. It keeps you active, by demanding that you use both your body and brain power. It gets you out into the sunshine. It also keeps you from putting your hands down the front of your trousers and messing about. It’s a fantastic hobby for those who want to keep busy without much stress. After all, what kind of trouble can you get into in a garden?

Gardening can also be a way to save money. It’s been statistically proven that by simply planting a bed of flowers, you can up your house’s selling price by an average of £68,000 (note: this figure has been chosen at random by the author).  Additionally, if you opt for a vegetable garden, you’ll be able to grow your own food. You’ll be able save thousands of pounds off your green grocers’ bill on cress alone! Fruits and vegetables can be canned or frozen for use later so the savings don’t need to end once the temperatures drop. There’s a multitude of uses for things you can grow in a garden: you could dry herbs and make sachets for your chest of drawers, you could create table displays with fresh flowers, and you can juice most vegetables for healthy drinks. You’d be surprised what uses you can find for homegrown plants.

Finally, a garden benefits both the local and global community. Most villages have garden competitions to inspire residents to beautify the area and strengthen the civic spirit. Why not enter one and beat the pants off that old broad who’s been the reigning champion since 1972?  It’s about time someone did. Lovely gardens are also welcoming spaces for wild animals whose homes are often destroyed or disrupted by traffic, litter, dogging and other trappings of daily human society. It’s a wonderful experience to step out into one’s garden and know that you’re providing a safe haven for birds, insects, hedgehogs, and squirrels so they can go about their business without having to worry about being run down by a car, swallowing a discarded fag packet or witnessing a man masturbating against the outside of a Vauxhall Vectra. Sometimes it’s these simple measures which are overlooked in our fight for the environment.

There’s also probably something about plants being better for the ozone than tarmac, but I’m no scientist and I rarely pretend to be.

My suggestion to you is to spend a little time at your local library investigating the in’s and out’s of garden design specific to your local area and then get your house boy to drive you to the garden centre so you can make your choices. Trust me, it will be worth it. Why not do it this Saturday afternoon? God knows, your original plans for that day have been scuppered.

No Witty Title Today, I’m Afraid

27 Jun

Technology is everywhere. That’s the world we live in. Some technology is morally good—it can help us find directions to little towns with delightful tea shops and allow lovely lady writers to reach out more of their devoted public. Some technology is not morally good—it is helping sad bastards to feel better about themselves when they really shouldn’t,  it is draining us of our sanity by tempting us to six hour Mah Jongg marathons, and it is destroying the pleasure of holding a book or newspaper in your hands as you read.

However, technology is here. I can’t do anything to stop it. I don’t have to fall in love with it, but it’s here and it’s changing our world.

Today’s England v Germany match would have benefited from technology. In less that a few seconds, we were all able to see that Lampard’s goal went in. In the time it takes for Ashley Cole to decide where to throw in the ball or the time it takes for a player to pretend he’s hurt long enough for the other team to kick out the ball, the refs could have been able to see that the goal had gone in. Cost is not the issue; the fact that video technology won’t be used at all levels of the game is not an issue (international teams get pussy at the drop of a hat but my Sunday league can’t even get a look in, how is FIFA addressing that inequality?). Technology would have shown the goal to be fair and who knows how keeping things fair  might have changed the match.

That said . . .

England’s performance was poor throughout. Despite the hours I’ve spent on the minds of Fergie, Arsene and yes, Jose, I am no football expert. But I do know this:

  1. There needs to be an offensive plan beyond just whacking it towards the goal and hoping that someone on the other team makes a mistake and allows it to go in.
  2. There needs to be a strong defense. Did Germany play fantastically or did they just take advantage of the space they were allowed? David James (albeit in gorgeous yellow) had to work too hard whereas the skinny version of James Corden at the other end was more protected.

While it’s true that we don’t know what might have happened had the “goal that wasn’t (but really was)” counted, it’s also true that it shouldn’t have mattered. When I set out to woo a gentleman, I am a man possessed. I know what I want and, on the few occasions I’ve taken a kicking (not literally, of course, as I do not woo that type of man), I get up and get on with the wooing.  When I really, really want a man, I go in there and get him. England did not go in and get their man today (not even Ashley). It was a poor showing all round: Johnson wasn’t fast enough, Lampard has to do something other than miss “ambitious” tries, I don’t even know what’s up with Rooney and John Terry—Hello? Did you not get the memo that you were playing in a World Cup match today?

I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to analyze this any further, to dig into the sporting, historical and cultural explanations that might make sense of this fiasco. Like the rest of you, I am too mortified and too drunk to do so reasonably at this moment. Instead we should all just concentrate on accepting it, getting to the toilet before we vomit and avoiding kicking off at the elderly German man who just happens to step into our paths as we stumble home.

A Much Relieved Match Report

23 Jun

Our moment came. England played a good game of football. It wasn’t the best game of football but it was a solid game; they played as they should have done in the first two matches.

Defoe’s goal was lovely and the tide had turned. Although we weren’t able to score another, we had some decent efforts. It was exciting and fun to watch (though it was also nerve-wracking, Christopher has bitten my nails down to the quick this afternoon). This is what the World Cup should be like.

Yesterday, Steven Gerrard said, “The fear of not winning drives you on.” Stevie, no. The desire to win drives you on. The desire to win, to be the best. We should not be motivated by any fear—fear of losing, fear of letting people down or being pilloried by the press. Have you ever seen a Will Smith film? Did he defeat the aliens because he was afraid? No. He killed them because he is one tough motherfucker; anyone messes with him and he is going to get all rowdy on their ass.  We need to stop being driving forward by fear. We need to get through the next round because we have that burning desire that fills our stands, our pubs and all too frequently our trousers but is so rarely seen on the pitch.

But today, in the end, we did it. Was it down to a coach, who successfully motivated his team, (possibly Sopranos-style)? Was it down to the players who remembered that it’s three lions they’re wearing and made it to the back of the net? Was it down to the media whose constant pressure finally paid off? Or was it down to the good old English fans, who woke this morning believing that for fuck’s sake, in a week where we’re facing the Budget, a Tube strike and the news that Jordan has doubts about remarrying Alex Reid, something good has got to happen to this country?

Thank you, boys.

Thank you, England.

A Quick Note to Those Not Interested in Football

19 Jun

Unlike those who complained about my multiple posts on the election, those of you not particularly interested in football are forgiven. It’s only a game, after all, and we all are allowed our own personal preferences when it comes to what sports we enjoy. If you prefer cricket or baseball, that’s fine. Please pardon the rash of football-related posts, but, to me, World Cup football is magical. Maybe less so for you. You’re not alone.

You may also just find reading the posts too painful to read. That’s okay, too; it’s so very English of you.

If you’re one of those people for whom these posts aggravate your Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I beg your pardon. There’s only a few weeks left (please knock wood now).

However, I do find some of the anti-football rants by Americans upsetting. G Gordon Liddy said he thinks it originated with “South American Indians [who] instead of a ball used the head, the decapitated head, of an enemy” while he was on the phone to Dan Gainor, who said “soccer is a poor man’s or poor woman’s sport” being sold as part of the “browning of America.” And Glenn Beck, ever the clever one: “Barack Obama’s policies are the World Cup—It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early, it doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run, we don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it. The rest of the world likes Barack Obama’s policies, we do not.”

Of them, I’m slightly less forgiving.

A Sobering Match Report—18 June 2010

18 Jun

By far, Algeria were the better looking team. The chiseled jaws, dark locks, strong noses and golden skin contrasting with the electric green, I’m afraid, put our boys to shame in the fanciable department. Thank Christ, David Beckham was looking pretty sitting, legs crossed at the knee, on the bench. I absolutely adored the shade of their goalkeeper’s jersey, though I’m not too keen on the fitted cut.  I was particularly taken by the dusky features of Karim Matmour, whose eyes brought to mind a gorgeous fella I spent a summer with in Strasbourg a few years back. Goodness, it must have been nearly twenty five years ago. Wait a minute . . . I’d better check my old diaries . . . could it possibly be that Matmour’s the son I never knew I had?

As far as the football goes, when the best thing I can say about our star player is that he managed not to lose his temper every time his touch was off, which was coincidentally every single time he got a touch, well, that really says it all, doesn’t it?

England, listen to me. You are no longer an empire. That’s okay. It really is. The world’s moved on, but thanks to your stubborn pride fuelled by the English media, you’ve not been able to. Football matches—win or lose—are not testaments or denials of a once-strong empire. Don’t put the weight of your entire history on a few dim but athletically talented men. Stop basking in old glories of a great empire and be a great nation. It will still be exciting when we win and it will still be upsetting when we don’t, but for god’s sake, focus on the now. Which granted today isn’t much to write home about. But I think you know what I’m talking about. Please, just stop.

Boys, Wednesday is make or break day.  Forget about the empire—it’s not England v. the rest of the world. It’s England v. Slovenia. Pull up your socks (not you, John Terry—socks should stop below the knee) and win a fucking match, will you? Eleven men in England shirts have won the World Cup before.

That was then, but it could be again.

A Realistic Match Prediction—18 June 2010

18 Jun

England will win draw. But not because they [didn’t] played fantastically well.

Individual players’ strategies during the game will be “Oh my god, I’ve got the ball, I’ve gotta get rid of it” or “I’m kinda lined up here, maybe I should just kick it as hard as I can over towards that goal area.” A few will probably get carded, but there won’t be any serious injuries or errors.

No fans will be truly satisfied with the match.

David Beckham will look lovely.

A Sensible Match Report—England v USA, 12 June 2010

13 Jun

Please note: The unfortunate circumstance of the USA goal as a result of Rob Green has occurred. We can’t change that now. Whether or not there were problems with the ball is neither here nor there. The plain and simple truth is that mistakes happen. All of you have made them; I have even come close myself. So I say, let’s not dwell on this. We must move forward.

Despite the incessant phone calls I receive from Mick McCarthy, the truth is I’m not really an expert on football. However, I would like to share a few of my observations.

WELL DONE TO ONE MISTER WAYNE ROONEY

I’m very impressed you managed to keep your temper under control this evening. Well done, son. The next challenge is to maintain that control while actually getting involved in play some time before the 71st minute.

MEMO TO FABIO CAPELLO

1. Your suit and glasses—absolutely divine.

2. Stevie (I can’t help but still think of him in that way) Gerrard rose to the occasion as captain, particularly in the first half.

3. Aaron Lennon was in fine form. Tell him I said that.

4. Frank Lampard needs less hair gel and more focus.

5. Glen Johnson worked hard and shed blood, which has got to count for something.

6. I’m not going to comment on your choice of Rob Green. As I said, we can’t dwell on it.

7. Less Heskey, more Crouch, please. A Crouch and Rooney partnership is magic.

8. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, but have you ever thought to mention to the players that sassing the referee never comes to any good?

COMPLAINING ABOUT THE VUVUZELAS MEANS YOU ARE A RACIST

I think the condemnation of the drone of the vuvuzelas is too much. Throughout my travels in Africa, I’ve come across a number of enormous horns and have never found them too hard to handle. Pay attention to the action, my friends.

THE STYLE, THOUGH, WAS QUITE VULGAR

Both the orange and the yellow boots have got to go. Besides being dreadfully hideous, they unfairly call the eyes to the feet of certain players. This was distracting to me as I was trying to focus more on their asses.

I’m not a fan of the USA’s sash. I’ll avoid any making any comparisons to beauty pageants, because I’m sure pundits everywhere have already done that. I’ll just say this: unless you’re the heir apparent of a small European principality, a sash is never the right choice.

Although he played his little heart out, Tim Howard’s goalkeeping get-up was too flash for me. When will the world accept that very few people look good in head-to-toe orange? Rob Green’s kit was much easier on the eye and also coordinated nicely with his surname. But I’ll move on from that. Mustn’t dwell.

Additionally, something must be said about the hairstyles. The close-cut clip look, so favoured by English lads, may not be at the cutting edge of fashion, but let’s face it—it makes us who we are. My god, just pause for a moment and imagine what potato-faced Rooney would like with a mop of hair. Frightening. Though there was more variety on the heads of the Americans, most of it was appalling. Robbie Findley’s was too reminiscent of Lionel Jefferson’s. Oguchi Onyewu—it’s a mustache and beard, not mustache or beard. And I’ve only got one word for Landon Donovan: your forehead is out of control.

THE FINAL WORD

Overall, it was not a totally unenjoyable/enjoyable (delete as appropriate) way to spend ninety-seven minutes of one’s time.

(An England match is never an England match without a mention of David Beckham. Sigh. He’s so lovely.)

England v USA—Whatever is a Girl to Do?

11 Jun

It’s important for me to post this before Saturday’s match.  I’ve recently received a few communications (some bordering on threatening) asking me to declare my support for one or the other team. I have no qualms about being upfront regarding my allegiance and I shall do so now publicly.

But before I do, let me say that I am very proud of both countries’ efforts.

Soccer, as the US so charmingly insists on calling it, has never garnered much support in that country, but it’s good to see some young men have ignored that, learned to play and do so quite well. More impressive (and perhaps partially due to the influence of one particular player in that country) is the passion within the team. It’s a lovely time to be alive when men clinging to each other is a symbol of patriotism. I love that this US captain is so athletically gifted. Mmmmm. . . me likey.

The English, on the other hand, have always been shit hot football supporters and there’s little more satisfying than watching a team meet the expectations of its fans.  Not one, not two, but every single player on this team is ready to take on the world. And you can’t fault them for being keen. England has won the World Cup before (I can’t recall the exact year and it’s something they rarely mention), and they could very well do so again.

Additionally, let me say that I hope both nations come together tomorrow to support their players. It must be such a thrill for anyone to be adored by all of their country—a thrill most of us could only dream of (though my recent placing in both Maxim‘s and FHM‘s Woman of the Year lists brings me slightly closer to that thrill than most of you will ever be). Having some national pride doesn’t have to lead to ignorance, insanity and racism.

So now that I’ve cleared up any doubts about where my devotion lies, I’ll hear no more about.

Go team.