Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Supping, but not cheering, with the enemy


I’m glad I left early to save some space for friends in the Irish Pub for last night’s game as friends and other people I was not expecting joined us, having a table and a lot of stools worked out well. The place was packed and it was hard to hear JTO singing our national anthem pretty much on her own. When it came time for the French national anthem all the, mainly young – the pub is at the edge of the University near the area where lots of students live – people sang it with gusto. It is a rousing song, which despite its name was written here in Strasbourg, and it was good to hear it sung with such passion. It was the only time that there was any singing as the French present with us did not sing for the rest of the match, just some almost Parliamentary banging on the table when something exciting or good for France happened.

When England scored first the group I was with jumped up and cheered loudly. This was of course exceeded in volume when the French team equalised. I was left wondering why Samir Nasri didn’t scored like that more often for Manchester City this last season?

I apologise for the quality of the pictures but they were taken on an iPod and it is not too good when there is little light. The top left is the view of the screen from my seat and the one behind is out onto the terrace and garden behind my seat and the last one is looking through, past another screen on the wall opposite the bar, to the bar.

Before the match started someone came round inviting entries for a competition to win a bottle of champagne. To do so you had to guess the score of the night’s matches. I said 1-0 to England scored in the 48th minute and 2-1 to Sweden. Needless to say I will not be taking up forecasting football results and was happy to lose the chance to win the champagne when England scored first around 30 minutes into the match.

I was pleasantly surprised at England’s positive start to the match and thrilled when they scored. The atmosphere in the pub quietened a bit after that but picked up after the French equalised and then got more tense as they got on top, having more possession, but without scoring. An enjoyable evening with some friends and, having lost the chance to win the champagne I didn’t have to stay on to see the other match.

I did think that by leaving I would lose the chance to see the match as one-third of the games are being broadcast on TF1, one-third on M6 and the remaining on the pay channel bein, the French branding for Al Jazera Sports. The France – England match being on terrestrial TF1 the other was on bein. But I had been reminded by a friend that we could watch matches free to air on German TV so I saw the game on ZFR.

Falling off the wagon


So, at the end of February 1998 I stopped smoking. I survived my birthday, that of JTO and an impromptu holiday in Nice – where it still seemed compulsory to smoke in many of the cafes we visited! The first time I fell off the wagon and smoked was on 30th June 1998. I remember the date and the venue very well.  At the time JTO was an MP and I worked for her in Reading but on the day I had to visit her in The Houses of Parliament. It was normal after finishing work, at the end of the day around 10 o’clock, to go down to the Stranger’s Bar for a quick drink before the last vote and then go home. But this day we had gone there more like 19:30 to reserve a place. I say down because, although it is level with the terrace outside, which looks out over the river, it is actually one floor down from the Chambers of the Houses of Commons and Lords. It also had a dark small cave like feeling. Much like the bar under Nottingham Castle, hacked into the rock, which is supposed to have a tunnel up to the castle and where crusaders were alleged to have had a last drink before departing the country.

Around the House of Commons you see green TV sets, actually called annunciators, and when the house is sitting they display the subject of debate in the Chamber and the name and then in large capitals the constituency of the MP speaking, something which was rather
unfortunate for her and always gave me a giggle when it was Margaret Hodge who represented Barking. The picture at the top is of an annunciator in the House of Lords, which is why it’s red. A secret about these is that you can change the channel on them and you can see a live feed of the debate in the Chamber. You can also get terrestrial TV channels and certain satellite channels, including Sky Sports. We had gone in early to reserve a seat for the England vs Argentina match in the last 16 in the World Cup, taking place that evening at Saint-Etienne in France.

England had qualified for the last 16 coming second in their group after beating Tunisia and Colombia but being beaten by Romania. Then England Manager, Glen Hoddle,(Who interestingly reappeared yesterday saying he wants the job again.) had received a lot of stick for not playing David Beckham and, then 18-year-old, Michael Owen. Both started this game. Six minutes into the game and Argentina get and score a penalty. Four minutes later Michael Owen goes down and England get and Alan Shearer scores a penalty. Then came a bit of Michael Owen magic:

Just before half-time Argentina equalised with a well-worked free-kick. Then, two minutes into the second half David Beckham is fouled and goes down. He does this:

 So a match which had been tense just got a whole lot more tense. England down to ten men. They held out for the second half. Extra time. England hold out for the two periods of extra time, Penalties. Alan Shearer scored the first for England then Berti equalised for Argentina. Paul Ince stepped up and missed. The tension was too much I had to have a cigarette. I took one from JTO’s packet. Crespo then stepped up for Argentina and missed. Relief, or was it the cigarette? The next penalties were taken by Merson then Verón, Owen then Gallardo and all were scored. It was the last penalty before sudden death and it had become sudden death. Any penalty missed now, with the others scoring and it is elimination from the World Cup. David Batty, who had never taken a penalty before, stepped up, shot to his left and the Argentinian goalkeeper guessed correctly and dived to save it. Ayala scored for Argentina. England were out. If you can bear it there is a great Four Four Two recreation of the match in quotes here.

I had done it, I had smoked. I had not enjoyed it much. And I thought, it was a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup. It would be four years before it came round again. Just keep up the stopping smoking. Funnily enough the debate in the Chamber on the Finance (No. 2) Bill did not see a vote between the start of the match and the end of extra time.

What I know about Sierra Leone II


Some time back I posted up a story about the work Manchester City supporters and Craig Bellamy have done in Sierra Leone.  At the beginning of this month the main person in Sierra Leone, Armani, was in Manchester.  Here is a diary of his time in the UK, and here is a video from the Club’s website giving more information about his trip to the UK:

City in Sierra Leone VIII: Bus update.

Bring on the Dancing Horses


Woke up late after a late night dvd session with ‘Studio 60’, does anything suggest JTO might be away in the quiet of the Vosges?  Good news from le Racing with victory 2-1 away at Troyes, the fourth  win on the trot, seeing them consolidating in the second, and promotion, place in Ligue 2.  Because of the subject of yesterdays post, the NATO summit, there will be a shortage of police next Friday so the match against the players of Ajaccio from the island of Corsica has been postponed to 17:00 on Sunday.  It’s going to be strange going to a match, and seeing all of it, in the daylight again.  Later I’ll be cleaning, eating and then watching the Tudors before completing Studio 60.

Whilst typing this I’m listening to Chrome Dreams.  A Neil Young album recorded in the seventies which was never released and a number of the songs appeared on other albums, Rust Never Sleeps, American Stars and Bars and others.  I do not usually download pirated music as I believe the author and artist of the work should get recompense for it.  This is an exception as it originally featured on Neil Young’s own blog.  Hat Tip to the excellent One Heck of a Guy for pointing me to it.  To quote from the site featuring the download, repeated by One Heck of a Guy:

Probably the best Neil Young album… Unfortunately Neil never released it. I found this particular gem on on his blog a couple of years ago. Now, you all know that his blog was deleted a lot of things are now lost to us and I feel that Chrome Dreams is something you just cannot miss.

Neil Young was on a creative high in 1975. By the end of the summer, Zuma was finished, though still not released.  Yet Neil carried on recording his new songs. Sometimes he recorded solo and sometimes with Crazy Horse. Lots of these songs would remain unheard by the public until quite a while later, but by late ‘75, Neil had already written and recorded versions of such future classics as Like A Hurricane, Powderfinger, Sedan Delivery, Pocahontas and Ride By Llama.

He carried on recording in 1976. More great songs were put down on tape, such as Will To Love, Stringman and Campaigner.  Some of us may feel that the Long May You Run album with Stephen Stills robbed us of the natural successor to Zuma, but Stills always suspected that Neil was holding back his best stuff for his solo album.

That solo album was a work in progress throughout this period. Titles were reported in the press: Ride My Llama, In My Neighborhood, American Stars ‘N Bars, Chrome Dreams. When American Stars ‘N Bars was released in 1977, Neil had scrapped most of the material he had been recording since late ‘75, replacing much of it with a series of rough hewn cowboy songs.

Fun stuff to be sure, but had Neil committed the latest in a series of difficult to explain career suicides? Who else, except maybe Bob Dylan, would sit on a stash of such quality songs and not let the public hear them?

What might have been….. leads us to..

Dress down Saturday

Last week saw us look at one of ‘The Crucial Three’, the second of whom, Ian McCulloch formed Echo and the Bunnymen.  The band were in their pomp at the same time as I was a student in Liverpool and I have warm memories of seeing them play home town concerts a number of times.  Echo came from the drum machine they used early on but by the time the first album, Crocodiles, was released it had been replaced by a real live drummer, Pete de Freitas.  This Rescue from it played at Sefton Park:

The next album, Heaven Up Here, features a track that has long been a favourite, here performed at the Albert all:

I had the poster of the next album, Porcupine, on my wall for a couple of years as a student.  It was released in my first year in Liverpool and featured a couple of hits including my favourite track from the album:

The next album, Ocean Rain, was considered to be their masterpiece, not least by the band themselves, and they have been playing it through in full on a number of occasions of late.  My favourite from the album, and probably from the band, Killing Moon, from the TV programme, The Tube, although a bit of a weak version compared to the full symphonic splendour of the track:

They released another eponymous album before splitting in 1988 and drummer Pete De Freitas died in a road accident in 1989.  The band refo0rmed in the late 90’s and have been touring and recording since to some critical and popular acclaim.

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