EDitorial ± 30-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 22

Boily hot pedalling back: collapsed clammily into the WC chair with Argentina a header ahead of Klinsmann's Clan. As Germany swept forward, Pekerman, the Patagonian potentate, voted Cameron with a big 'C' and made a flotilla of ill-advised subs worthy of the Russian Navy. Off sulked Riquelme -- as Graham Taylor observed, "He's not at all happy at all" -- and, like the Tweenies, surely it was Messi time. Apparently not.

Mein hosts got a deserved equaliser, Miroslav going one step Klose to Big Ron's WC tally, while Ballack -- they shoot horses, don't they? -- played from a heady mix of adrenaline and testosterone. Fulfilling the cliche, the Germans proved ruthlessly efficient at penalty-taking leaving Cambiasso to dry his tears. Then, about 130 minutes after kick-off, it kicked off again with Heinze having to be restrained by a variety of his own side. Chau, Argentina.

As Portman Road played host to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Hamburg's AOL Arena -- /discuss -- saw the slick Italian Alfas cruise past the uninspired Ukrainian Volgas. Showing great vigour, Toni drew a smile from those who'd had twenty euros on him for the Golden Boot. And making his goal tally still bigger, Toni poached a second after Zambrotta weaved between two defenders on his Lambretta. If he'd shown more rigour, Toni might have had a hat-trick.

Silkily skillful solo run by Shevchenko ("I'll go past all of you!") still couldn't earn him a spot kick, so the Kiev chaps will be checkin' out. Do pobachennya, Ukraine.

EDitorial ± 29-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 21

Second consecutive day of no live soccerball. As if that wasn't enough, those bloomin' kids have knocked the Swingball ball off, again, plus those bloomin' cats brought in a bird to the dining room. Dead animals, yuck.

Enough of l'enfer domestique -- here's a snapshot of now for reconsideration in four years:

Da Vinci Code, book and film. At War With The Mystics. myspace.com. Podcasts. Those M&S ads: these aren't just strawberries. Gnarls Barkley. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. House being shot. DS Lite. Twelve Stops and Home. 118 118. Billie Piper leaving. Sandi Thom. Cadbury salmonella scare. Brandenburg Gate. M:I:3. flickr.com. Poseidon. Mr Echo in Lost. The Dangerous Book for Boys. Club Penguin. Moyles. Under The Iron Sea. HD ready. Sven. Avoiding Big Brother. Habbo Hotel. Gordon Ramsay's The F Word. youtube.com. The Cloudspotter's Guide. Who Do You Think You Are? Carlsberg pub team of Bobby & Jackie, Ball, Shilton, etc. Gilad Shalit. Animal Crossing. Totally Doctor Who. 1GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive £18. David Cameron on Jonathan Ross. Dead Man's Chest. Where do they get their energy from?

See you for South Africa ten past eight (2010).

EDitorial ± 28-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 20

Wot ... no ... footy. The World Cup Chair stands vacant, redundant as Graham Poll's Rolex. Sitting there in the FIFA-endorsed furniture while catching up on last week's House would have been just plain wrong. Roll on Friday's encounter between the irresistible force -- Hulk Hogan, aka Argentina -- and the immovable object -- Andre the Giant, aka Germany. Something's gotta give, fight fans.

It's possible to view the upcoming quarter finals as a battle between the conquering consonants (Brazil, France, Germany and Portugal) and the valiant vowels (Argentina, England, Italy and Ukraine). Note that the South Americans lead the way in each quartet, rather ominously.

That's already a moral victory for the vowels -- four out of five, or 80% -- but what would it have taken to complete the Panini-esque set? Well, of the 207 associations who've paid their subs to Sepp Blatter, there's only one -- count it -- beginning with the letter 'O'. No clues, but they finished runners-up in group 3 of the Asian draw, behind Cagey Tomato's Brazilian-baiting team and ahead of India and Singapore. Anagramatically, you get cheerful Chomsky's first name.

EDitorial ± 27-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 19

And then there were huit. I'm sure we all expected the French veterans ("I won the World Cup, you know!") to surrender to the fluent Spanish tonight, mais non. They had Xavi -- not in the official Scrabble dictionary -- they had Torres -- a Chesney Hawkes lookalike, according to Chris "Larsson" Waddle -- and yet they're leaving on a jet plane.

Mightily impressed with Scarface Ribery; less so with Va Va Voom who only appeared to have been elbowed dans la visage and secured a yellow card for Puyol -- tut tut, Thierry -- and Senegalese Vieira was there. Zinedine Yazid Zidane, a man not short on Zs, banged in la troisieme to pile on the pain and it's hasta pronto, Spain.

Missed the boys from Brazil putting out the gallant Ghana due to an important appointment at the local Hut for Birthday Boy. Happy with his Power Rangers SWAT Command Truck (S.P.D. -- Emergency!), remote control K9, super soaker, scooter and so on and so forth. We'll be setting up the Hot Wheels vertical drop track when there's some dead time at the weekend, perhaps when the ballboys are fetching a 35 yard Lampard screamer from behind the Yahoo hoarding.

Did manage to check the live score while biking through Kesgrave, taking advantage of the Beeb's mobile website -- top link, World Cup scores & results -- then the battery conked out. That's technology.

EDitorial ± 26-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 18

Change of weather, change of podcast subject, switching to the ever entertaining film reviews on Five Live with Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, evidently live in Das Kapital: they will see Berlin before I do. More than one listener had witnessed Professor K. captaining the Australian footy team.

Hard cheese on the Sheilaroos going out to a last gasp dodgy penalty against an uninspired Italy, though Totti's take was top-notch. Every mention of Oz's Culina brought Nosferatu, aka Senor Vauxhall, to mind, and a Fractured tribute song rhyming Collina with the phrase deus ex machina. Final whistle and I leapt for the off switch, threatened with the mind-bending banality of McCoist, Townsend and Allardyce.

Praise be for digital TV's red button to get away from Mick McCarthy's impression of Graham Fellows doing Dave Tordoff. McCarthy dour, Ukraine dull, Switzerland duller. Sure sign of aging when you're more familiar with the coach than the players: ooh look, there's Blokhin, once a super striker like Van Basten and Klinsmann. Guest manager for the Swiss had the look of a local driving instructor. Blew up some balloons (for The Boy's birthday) during a prolonged extra time. Pleased to see the Carpathians go through, only 'cos Shovkovskiy was wearing a retro green Shiltonesque keeper's jersey. Someone should tell Shevchenko the trick to taking a Ukrainian penalty: don't take too many Steppes.

EDitorial ± 25-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 17

Seemed like everyone in town, on the first day of the now annual Ip-art summer festival, was wearing England colours. Jolly jolly. Found the birthday cards I'd come for then headed for Costa: What would you like?, said Mr Barista; Regular latte, I said; Sorry, he said, Can't do any hot drinks since no running water. This is a cheese shop, isn't it?

Back home (they'll be thinking about us) for the Big Match in what even the kids now call the Official World Cup chair. Joined by a sofa-ful of pre-teen girlies, 50% of whom didn't look up from Nintendogs for the whole game: they were better off out of it. Stuttgart sizzled and England froze. Come half time, found The Boy not on the bench but in the front room watching Stupid. Derived far more pleasure from a thirty second Devil Finger sketch than the woeful first 45 minutes.

Lampard, as useful as a lamp-post, came in for some Broom Acres abuse. Didn't believe the Five Live commentator when Beckham's free kick crept inside the post; was sure it had hit the side netting, but there it was and there we were, one step closer to the quarters.

After Paula's pit-stop, have we now crossed some line as to what's acceptable within a sporting performance? There's our hero Mr Spice barfing onto the lush green turf. We were wondering if the players then had to avoid that patch of grass. Maybe a small bag of sand would have done the job, or a traffic cone. Any road up, on we plough. Nos vemos, Ecuador.

Prospect of Portugal -- Figo, Deco -- testing their skills against Holland -- Robben, Van Persie -- was enticing. Wasn't to be. Match had more cards than (wait for it) Sven's wallet. Iberians had NYPD's Andy Sipowicz on the sideline to inspire them. Funny to see the Dutch resorting to blasting the ball upfield for the last ten minutes, much like we do for the entire game. Tot ziens, Netherlands.

EDitorial ± 24-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 16

London, 2012, for a cracking Dr Who, the houses bedecked with Union Flags, then Leipzig calling for an equally cracking Argy-Mexico encounter. Those blue & white stripes were expected (and were perhaps expecting) to tango it; south of the border had other ideas, Marquez losing his markers to put them ahead. Delight all round, though Chris Rea, the gringo coach, took it in his stride. Didn't last long, Crespo doing what Crespo does, whether or not he touched it.

Fabulous Cole-like winner from one Maxi Rodriguez, who really should hook up with Ecuador's Austin Delgado. On came the mesmeric Messi to weave his wicked way and swerve past several stationary central Americans, then pop the ball in the net (though it didn't count). Hasta luego, Mexico.

Earlier, had tuned in to find Sweden needin' two goals just to pull level, the Germans clearly dominant. Watched with hope as Larsson fell over, got the penalty, then Waddled it over the bar. Expect a call from Pizza Hut soon. The hosts could and should have scored a Benzful as the minutes ticked away. Ballack and his Polish mates march on.

EDitorial ± 23-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 15

I know I should use exclamation marks sparingly, but two days in a row! Scroll down on the Grauniad's minute-by-minute report of the Saudi-Spain game to the half-time analysis -- that's me again, that is. More on Mr Noise Reduction another time.

End of the round redbreast matches, down to the final four-squared. Time for a rhyme for those heading home:

Goodbye, Paraguay
Iran but I fell
Ivory coasted
Costa Rica as well

Serbs split from Monte
Poles headed south
Trinidad dead
Left US down in the mouth

Tunisia detuned
Croatia's race run
Angola went AWOL
Japan's setting sun

Korea's on the slide
Saudi non-started
Togo had to go
Czechs choked & departed

So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye, and bring on the knockouts.

EDitorial ± 22-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 14

Unlike Freddie Shepherd, Middler *did* vomit yesterday and so won first prize of a day off the hell that is junior school. Which didn't sit well with The Boy, unable to stomach the injustice of it all and who sat wailing on the doorstep declaring his wish not to be educated that day. Life's not fair, Boysy.

Being a p(r)awn of the McLuhan meeja, I gamely consumed (a) the Guardian's daily WC podcast -- wittily held together by TV's Football Italia chappy James Richardson, though featuring some guy called Mike whose whiny voice reminds me of an annoying colleague -- then (b) that same paper's minute-by-minute coverage of the crunch Czech-Italy game from the (cliche alert) Group Of Death. Now, wishing to brag, some are born great, etc, so take a look at the 43rd minute para. That's me, that is.

Back to the footy -- McFly! -- and it's Zbohem to the (great for one game) Czech Republic and so long to the hope of the States. Arena's going home.

Ronaldo is Big In Japan and in his full-length bedroom mirror. Maybe those white shorts gave him that extra 10cm of pace, enabling him to score not one but two, the second a beaut with his boot. Delightful one-two with goofy Ronaldinho too. Match got the shot it needed when a wiley fella named Cagey Tomato blasted Japan ahead. Old men Carlos and Cafu were rested in favour of a brace of Gilbertos, and little Robinho, looking like Theo Walcott's younger brother, stole the show. Sayonara, Japan.

Simultaneously, the Wizards of Oz kept their Kewell in a match loosely officiated by Graham "Straw" Poll. Life's not fair, Croatia.

EDitorial ± 21-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 13

Nearly, nearly for Angola -- a goal 'n' along a last, anagramatically. Scorer for the sub-Saharans was one Flavio Amado. Not that I've followed the charts for aeons -- yes, I killed Top Of The Pops -- but wasn't there a rapper called Flavio? My hit singles book (issue 14) is no use though has reminded me of a catchy and odd song from my younger days:

Wonder what's cooking at the house tonight
Stew and beans
— Flash And The Pan, Waiting For A Train

What was that all about? Why can't I buy it on iTunes now? Is the stew OK for veggies? And where was I? Enda nawa to the Bantu boys.

Had a Midsummer's Evening kickabout up the rec on the freshly cut grass with The Boy, assessing his fitness for Sunday's second round showdown. He could yet be the surprise package of the tournament with his nifty knee control.

Saw bits of the anti-goalfest non-match between two teams who'd already qualified. Riquelme, as you youngsters say, "rocked", and (to me at least) has a more than passing physical resemblance to Maradona. Confusingly, for someone of my years, any German director covering an Argentina game is mandated to cut away to a chubby-ish fella in the crowd wearing the famed blue and white shirt who also looks like "Boca" Diego.

EDitorial ± 20-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 12

On Five Live shortly before The Big Match, a reporter was giving us 30 seconds of all you ever wanted to know about Cologne but were afraid to ask. There was mention of the cathedral, apparently once the tallest building in the world, and how it took over 600 years to complete. He observed that this was in danger of being overtaken by the new Wembley Stadium, narf!

Do you get those rolling news updates on your DAB radio display? Looked up to catch "Sorry England slump to defeat" though kick-off hadn't yet kicked off. But we didn't. In fact, we won the group, remained unbeaten, job done. One of those rare situations where everyone's a winner: great, we're through, and yet there's plenty to moan about.

One of my personal high spots was the customised Honda ad with that tached fella riding his moped, zooming along in his speedboat, etc, all sporting attached England flags. Even had the inspirational lyrics picked out in red & white and a one-off Garrison Keillor "Come on, England" message. Sweet.

Some muttering about why Rooney wasn't replaced by The Boy. Well, it's a school night so Theo headed bedwards at half-time and we read a few pages of Mr Pod And Mr Piccalilli. He *could* be available for Sunday's game.

EDitorial ± 19-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 11

Yes!, says the leaflet in front of me over-excitedly, it's cycle to work week! And there's that nice Gary "Ratings" Lineker pictured on the website on two wheels, wearing a crisp (ho-ho!) matching suit and tie: we can but speculate on his bicycle clips, though I'd imagine no grease would dare stain Mr Untouchable. Poor chap certainly earns his money when Leonardo's in the studio.

So the Togo boys decided togo to their Dortmund date only to be denied the plainest of penalties by the Paraguayan ref: is this the way, Mr Amarilla, to do your job? Frei couldn't miss for the Swiss, neither could the luxuriantly named Tranquillo Barnetta -- literally "placid borough" -- so it's Mia doga, Togo.

Found out about the Saudi's drubbing at the hands of the not remotely weak Ukraine on Ma and Pa's teletext, delivering some belated Father's Day fruit. As you do. Pleased to see a goal by none other than Rebrov, once half of a dynamic duo at Dynamo Kiev with Chelsea chap Shevchenko, before Sergei, like others, went AWOL under Hoddle.

Good to hear all those authentic-sounding Spanish names like Ramos, Pablo and Garcia, straight out of a Leone picture. Torres tore the Tunis team to bits, then celebrated one of his brace with a strange David Byrne-like arm movement. That's siete goals -- count 'em -- already. Andale!

EDitorial ± 18-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 10

Early afternoon bore draw for Japan-Croatia. Frank Sidebottom should have been in Nuremberg to lead the crowd in a chant of nil-nil, nil-nil, nil-nil, nil-nil. Though the Jap penalty save was top-notch. Bizarre comment on Five Live about one of the Japanese players, not sure which one, having such a great left foot that he could open a tin of beans with it. Lost In Translation?

Rather rudely ignored the visiting in-laws to head inside for the hotly anticipated Brazil game v. Oz, ITV nabbing Shane Warne as a pundit. Got 20 minutes in without a single incident of note, though Ronaldo was seen to get the ball a couple of times (before losing it). Mickey, written out of Dr Who into the parallel world of the Cybermen, is currently to be seen between the sticks for Brazil, who began to turn it on a tad once they'd gone ahead. So a team, much fancied, faces heavy criticism at home despite winning their first games 1-0 and 2-0, thereby qualifying for the KO stage. Remind you of anybody?

Needed some early evening light relief so on went Ice Age, causing The Boy to very nearly wet himself guffawing at the opening sequence with Scrat and his precious acorn. Had the rest of us in stitches too, laughing at The Boy's giggles.

Later, tried the famous red button and got myself highlights of France, whose careers are heading rapidly south, up against South Korea. Did you see what I did there? Notable for King Henry scoring their first WC goal since, well, the ice age. A ce moment, la France ne marche pas.

EDitorial ± 17-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 9

A-ha, that's Portugal, not exactly cruising past the past participles of Persia. Missed Deco's artful display due to hands-off supervision of the water slide out the back, keeping the kids cool. Khoda hafaz, Iran.

I'd heard that the Czechs were a half-decent outside bet -- they're at number two in the FIFA rankings, fact fans -- and you'd have believed it given their trouncing of the States. News hadn't reached the battling Black Stars who were ahead within two mins, missed a penalty and pounded the goal of compulsory Chelsea chap Cech. Those Czechs failed to bounce back. Go Ghana!

Greatly looking forward to the US of A being taught how to play footy by the elegant Italy. Wasn't to be. Vicious and obvious elbow by De Rossi showed the Azzurri at their worst. Typical Americans always wanting to go one better by having two sent off. When I heard on the radio that someone called Pablo Mastroeni had been dismissed, I assumed he had on a blue shirt: I was wrong. And yet the Italians still couldn't put the ball in the net, unlike Damarcus Beasley who unluckily had his not given. Uncle Sam live on.

EDitorial ± 16-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 8

No hint of the wizardry to come from the Corn Beefeaters when watching the opening two minutes in the coffee lounge. Six-nil! I sound like Gordon Ottershaw after Barnstoneworth's demolition of Denley Moor. Tempted to watch those online video highlights One More Time. Why does Messi have an incredibly dull hairstyle? Do videnja, Serbia & Montenegro.

With more vans than BT and less reliance on Robben, the Cloggers marched on. Thought that van Persie blaster was class, then saw Kone's effort -- much like Owen's famed goal against Argentina, possibly one better. Adieu, Ivory Coast.

Scratching my head trying to work out which team was Portugal in tonight's game -- they're usually in that dark-ish red; maybe their away kit is white? -- before realising they weren't playing. This was 4th in the FIFA rankings Mexico -- ariba! -- failing to beat lowly Angola, placed at 57th, only two slots above Scotland. Couldn't get excited about this one, so on went CSI instead. Ooh, there's Vegas, with the States to face Italy in 24 hours. So long, Uncle Sam?

EDitorial ± 15-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 7

Slumped into bed at 2:22am. Cycled back from station around 2am -- lively near Zest (ex-Kartouche, ex-Hollywoods) -- having been driven back from Colchester after catching the 00:18am from Liverpool Street. Laughed inappropriately when the worse-for-wear guy sleeping on the opposite seats fell onto the floor.

Had spent seven hours and several pounds in and around the Bull and Gate on Thursday for Frank Sidebottom's World Cup Extravaganza: yes, that odd fella with the papier-mache head, the nasal twang and a manifestly split personality. He's been on Match Of The Day, you know.

A motley mob gathered before two small tellies (wot no superscreen?) to watch England stutter their way to victory over Dwight Yorke and ten mates. There was free Monster Munch, half-time oranges and, for Crouch, unbridled abuse ... which morphed into unbounded admiration when he nodded in. Such fickle fans are we.

Fled for fresh air and fast food afore flipping back for Fractured, full of running but naive at the back. Quality start with We're The Support Band ("And we go on, and on, and on, and on, and on"), and I grew to love All My Conifers Are Dead while keeping one eye on the Sweden-Paraguay game. Left it late, Ljungberg.

Penultimately up were perennial chokers I, Ludicrous. Soccer set kicked off with Quite Extraordinary, taking in the "social history" and compelling riff of Three English Football Grounds with the mournful We Stand Around in midfield. I liked Danny Baker's Diary -- less light, more bitter, boys? -- and the room loved a Joy Division song adapted for Peter Crouch, He's Lost Control. Nice.

Finally, a record signing from Timperley Bigshorts, Frank Sidebottom. Terrific to have him back in ace & top form with a Twist & Shout singalong, a Queen selection requiring the Mercury moustache, and his story of a bidding war on ebay v. Little Frank for a Betamax copy of Planet Of The Apes. Full mastery of the Casio, too, with instant requests for Roger Robot and the Indie Medley -- grown men, who should have been home with their partners, were seen wiping away the tears.

EDitorial ± 14-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 6

No handmade sarnies today, so over to the workers' restaurant for the first time in a while. Delighted to see most/all of the WC countries' flags hanging overhead in a blaze of colour. Enhanced my jacket with chilli no end.

Towards 2pm, finishing what John Shuttleworth would call my caffy latty, spotted three young fellas lining up some tables to give them an optimum view of the overhead big tellies. Above us, kicking off, was Spain-Ukraine, and those lads were Spaniards in the works (canteen). Two hours later, in spite of Andriy "Chelsea-bound Chap" Shevchenko's presence and four (count 'em) goals down, those Slavs proved the truth of Kramer's Risk-playing remark:

Do you know what the Ukraine is? ... The Ukraine is weak. It's feeble.

Final few mins of a topsy-turvy tussle saw the rich boys of Saudi Arabia come back from 1-0 down to go 2-1 up before a late, late header from Tunisia to pull level. This prompted the ITV commentator, spontaneously I'm sure, to observe that Radhi Jaidi was "the first Bolton player to score in a World Cup finals since Nat Lofthouse in 1954." Fantastic facts, we got 'em.

Big grudge match for Germany against their neighbours over the Oder, Poland. Ballack (guess what, a Chelsea-bound Chap) back for the Bratwursters, Bak at number 6 for the Poles.

Much of second half spent providing more IT support for Mr X, who needed (a) his WiFi sorting and (b) a new email address 'cos he's about to send out CVs to prospective new employers and thus can't really use his current firm's address. One Googlemail invitation later, job done, bish-bosh. Which brings us nicely back to the relentless attacking of the Germans, smacking the bar twice before the dramatic last minute winner. Oh well, keeps the hosts happy. Na razie, Polska.

EDitorial ± 13-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 5

Lunchtime footy saw our Ghana-like side take on some Italianate opposition. Level at halftime under the blazing Frankfurt (I mean Martlesham) sun, then our tactical naivety came to fruition as we crumbled to a 17-11, or thereabouts, defeat.

Busy & sweaty pm meant only the odd view of the Beeb's web coverage. They saw fit to actually publish what Gordon Strachan said at half-time, as Togo boldly took an unexpected lead, that South Korea were a shadow of their former semi-final selves. All too predictable then that this disparate outfit of Parks, Lees and Kims would come back to win.

Despite two compulsory Chelsea chaps (Gallas and Claude "Formby" Makelele) and Va Va Voom Henry and Zebedee Zidane, La France were less than magnifique and perhaps should have lost to Switzerland, the favourite team for neutral supporters. Great chance for Team Toblerone in the dying secs as Frei, imagining himself in a Fantasy Football reconstruction, tried and failed to emulate The Hand Of God, punching the ball wide. D'oh!

Past few days have seen me grilling (more reliable than BBQ-ing) Middler with her World Cup spellings, tricky ones out of the 32 being Tunisia and Croatia. So v. pleased to learn that she got all of 'em correct today, earning herself two lousy stickers. At least they could have given her some free tickets or a day off.

Been salivating in antici ... pation over Brazil's entry into the comp; tonight's was a decaf display. Crotia are no pushovers, and it can't be easy playing a team wearing Halma boards: that's enough excuses. Found myself in the unorthodox position of agreeing with Mark Lawrenson, which can't be good. Kaka can certainly kick, and Cafu must have been on a Red Bull drip given his ceaseless runs, but Ronaldo and Adriano were both in cahoots and completely kaput. Ronaldinho had used up all his tricks filming Nike ads, and even lagged behind Prso in the ponytail parade. Must try harder.

And they didn't even have those designer-friendly lower-case names.

EDitorial ± 12-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 4

Most inconsiderate to have matches played during work-time. And not the best of days for a brief air-con breakdown: staying in shorts paid off. Chuckled at The Guardian's national stereotype ridden run-by-run (oops, wrong sport) text commentary as Japan went ahead, then winced as Australia -- the Sheilaroos -- got not one, not two, but a hat-trick of late goals.

Caught the final five mins of dreamteam USA being thrashed by the big and bouncing Czech Republic. Relied on reruns of all three goals. Wouldn't want to mess with the Hagridesque Koller, who banged in a rocket of a header before limping off. Then a thunderbolt from Rosicky, apparently now bound for Ashburton and Arsene, before he coolly slotted home his second. Some player.

Experimented with my digital red button -- technology is my friend -- to switch to commentary from Five Live. Thanks to Freeview, I was able to catch Jimmy Armfield referring to "what I call a physically strong side." See, those ex-pros have their own special language. Not.

And so to Ghana's debut WC game against the always interestingly coiffured Italy. Heck, their goalie had a golden kit and is named Buffon. Totti hobbled off to be replaced by Mio Pony Piccolo, Senor Camoranesi, flaunting his big girl's ponytail, admired by Middler who'd appeared and couldn't sleep. She had four inches lopped off at the weekend and was admiring Mauro's mane with envy.

I'd always take the Azzurri after Brazil, but I was willing the Black Stars forward. How was that not a penalty with 10 mins to go? Must mention Pimpong: great name, little else.

Much praise for the Ghanaian Michael Essien (obligatory Chelsea chap) on the pitch and for the surprisingly erudite and informative Marcel Desailly (ex-Chelsea) in the studio.

EDitorial ± 11-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 3

They say that those disposable BBQs are ready to go in about 15 minutes; they lie. A late and largely oven-grilled lunch outside, hence no sight of Holland scraping a 1-0 win over both Serbia & Montenegro. Love that conjunction. Waddyaknow, a Chelsea chap got the goal, he of the scarlet chest.

Friends gone by 5pm, so some token clearing up in and around the Mexico-Iran game. Good to see Golmohammadi bang one in from close range giving us the chance to admire the detailed work of the Persian embroiderer. That's a lot of lower-case letters to work onto one man's back. Also gratifying was the first brace to be scored at this year's tournament by a player with an entirely phonetic name, Mr Omar Bravo.

Last match of the day was on ITV, whoopee, with Andy "Pedestal" Townsend in the studio, double whoopee. In which Portugal failed to wipe the floor with Angola, despite Figo playing rather well, for once. Points of note:

  • both goalies were called Ricardo
  • Loco's hair: shaven-headed but for a fringe plopped on his forehead
  • compulsory Chelsea chap, Carvalho, failed to score
  • Ronaldo (not the goofy one) sulked like a big girl when he was subbed

Better go and see if those chicken thighs are done.

EDitorial ± 10-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 2

Phew. Mighty hot both here and there come the long-awaited 2pm kick-off. Five minutes later the England boys were a fortuitous goal up against Paraguay: grazie, Mr Gamarra.

Little else of note in the remaining 85 minutes, truth be told. I can, however, exclusively reveal that when little Michael Owen came off, ever littler Theo wasn't available for Sven Sony-Ericsson. See, he'd taken off his new £7 off-the-market Ingerland kit in favour of his Spider-Man trunks to splash around in the paddling pool. Gotta stay cool in this darn heat even if it means not winning your first cap.

Was called away to fix next door's new wireless router -- titter ye not -- thus missing the first ampersand of the tournament as Trinidad & Susannah shared no goals with the Swedes, who were too busy Larsson about.

A footy-free zone while Doctor Who battled his satanic majesty in a philosophical episode, then the traditional switch to BBC3 for Confidential, so Argentina already 2-0 up on the apostrophe'd Cote d'Ivoire when I assumed control of the official World Cup chair. Cheered when Drogba pulled one back: is there some FIFA regulation stating that there must be at least one Chelsea player per team?

EDitorial ± 9-Jun-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 1

As the cover of tonight's Evening Star says, It's Finally Here. Off to a spirit of '66 start with the office sweepstake as my name came out with ... England. Betrayed my feelings with a small sigh: yes, wouldn't it be lovely if they could, whisper it, win the thing, for (a) the nation and (b) my cashflow, but shall we get a collective Tord Grip? May I lightly saute my words with a soupcon of soy sauce. And unlike the majority of my colleagues, there was no dashing off to Google Images to find a flag -- oh look, there's the car park.

Watched the BBC World Cup ticker count down to 0 days 0 hours 0 minutes to go, then hopped on the bike bound for home. Quarter past five, I passed a man in his car who was suddenly laughing to himself: a-ha, Costa Rica must have scored against Das Host Nation. Indeed they had, albeit an equaliser.

Impolite to head straight for the Idiot's Lantern since Eldest safely back from year 6's Herne Bay week away. On their first night away from their loving parents & guardians, some of the girls and most of the boys had enjoyed a good sob, apparently. Bless 'em. So no sight of live WC action until the final half hour, by which time Germany 3-1 up, blast.

Costa Rican manager's stick of rock tie something to see, as was Wanchope's composure in front of goal. Put me in that same situation on a Tuesday lunchtime and I go to bits. That's why I'm in IT and not affiliated to the FA.

Even better was the reunified team's 4th goal, a blockbusting Arie Haanesque whoomph of a shot. Awesome, and even better in the umpteen slo-mo replays that followed.

Duller start for the altitudinous Ecuador v. the magnetic Poles. Enlivened by The Boy doing his "I can't get to sleep" spiel, thus joining us on the sofa. Seeing a Macdonalds board among the many pitchside hoardings, he asked: "Is that all places to go for tea?"

As Gene Pitney might have sung, only 15 hours to Paraguay, the landlocked cassava-eating nation that still has a coastguard.

EDitorial ± 6-Jun-2006


Physical portents a-plenty.

First, shaved on Sunday morning to reveal an ugly and unpleasant spot on my chin which then defied all my attempts to pop it, only swelling to become more bubo-like. Ugh.

Second, developed hiccups yesterday which stayed with me for hours. Was still emitting frog-like sounds when I hit the sack. Slept fine, then back they came late morning, albeit at a low level. They've now gone, touch Ikea desk.

Third, lunchtime footy in the blazing sun and the all-surface ball is belted into my face. Ouch, then watery eyes and numb lips.

Now, either I'm run down or it's the sixth day of the sixth month in the year of oh-six.

Let's end with a friend's faded Attila the Stockbroker T-shirt caption:

Question: Who lives at number 668?
Answer: The Neighbour Of The Beast.

EDitorial ± 1-Jun-2006

Dolmio, May 2006

Time, and rosemary, are on my side. With a teensy sprinkle of paprika too. Yes, it's another end-of-month Dolmio (Doings Of Last Month Innoparticular Order) round up.

That is to say, an attempt to capture past(a) events before they slip... my... mind. May 2006 was spent:

  • giggling at the Adam & Joe XFM podcast: who is Billie?
  • pitching & putting on (virtual) Islands Mini Golf
  • viewing the vast numbers of vehicles surrounding Ely Cathedral to support the filming of The Golden Age
  • taking The Boy to his first karate session: key-eye!
  • watching Joss "Buffy" Whedon's Serenity with the subtitles on since everyone else was in bed
  • reading, book the first: catching up on Rankin & Rebus with the school shooting incident of A Question Of Blood
  • reading, book the second: a creepy Fens-located Puffin Plus entitled The House On The Brink by John Gordon
  • turning 40, ahem, at Freston Tower
  • nearly being zapped by lightning on my last day of being 39 out on a walk back past Woolverstone church
  • dining out at both Milsom's (no booking, long wait) and the Leaping Hare, oh yes
  • looking forward to the return of Frank Sidebottom

And that was May 2006.