EDitorial ± 31-Jul-2006

On Returning From Badminton

That familiar Cyberman stomp noise (thank you BBC website, thank you Bluetooth) echoed from my trouser pocket this morning, alerting me to a new text message --- I tell ya, it's the future. Using only 10% of the standard SMS ration, it said: BADDERS CE SOIR? Been a while, and thankfully cooler today, so allons-y.

Two competitive and sweaty games later, honours even and a Ribena Light downed, drove back listening to the uber-positive sounds of MJ Hibbett and turned into the road. Expect no space, they say, and you won't be disappointed. Even had a letter through the door today about a council meeting in mid August to consider a controversial dropped kerb, a few doors up, that's a tad wider than it has a right to be. This is a "very unfair situation", so it says.

Sure enough, lots of Smart car slots, little else, so up I go to turn around. Hang on, what's that, just outside my very own dwelling?

Jerry: What about your father's car?
George: No, no, no. Out of the question. I was over there today. He's got the good spot in front of the good building in the good neighbourhood. I know he's not gonna wanna move.
Jerry: Are you serious?
George: You don't know what that spot means to him. Once he gets it, he doesn't go out for weeks.
--- Seinfeld, The Handicap Spot

Yep, I landed Frank Costanza's coveted spot, and it feels as sweet as Willy Wonka's factory floor.

EDitorial ± 28-Jul-2006

Sackers Of Rome

One week in to The Summer Of Lily Allen's hols and I'm more than a bit concerned about the pacing of the Kesgrave vandals. In addition to the usual broken glass, there's been bits of packing crate, further paint scraped off the underpass walls, and a trashed traffic island light. Nice of the council to do their bit by replacing THE LIBRARY lettering next to the boarded-up window by the up-ended trees, all of which face the local police's Safer Neighbourhood Team drop-in centre.

Half-four today, cycled past a flurry of fire engines attending a suspicious heathland fire. So I needn't have worried that those kids would burn themselves out.

Vital to know how a man handles himself, like Geddy Lee, under pressure. Lunchtime chess, and there I was, ruthlessly turning the screws on my opponent, and this a man who knows a thing or three about the game. I had him, really I did, nailed in the corner. And then I didn't. Un mauvais quart d'heure later, I was hot, bothered and beaten. Chalk it up as another moral victory.

Everyone knows that you simply mustn't sport socks and sandals. An article on the fashion crimes due to the heatwave recommended, with shorts, a pair of good Italian loafers. But what are they? Do they have a heel? Could I find them in the cheapo shoe shop near The Range?

Felt like more than sixteen candles were on the go in the darkness of The Riverside flicks on Wednesday for Mr Depp's POTC2. Perhaps not the best plan, alertness-wise, to have those delightful three courses beforehand. As Cap'n Jack buckled and swashed, we in the audience blew and swooned. Hugely entertaining though it was, 150 minutes makes for a marathon moving picture. Out into the evening air: ah!

EDitorial ± 20-Jul-2006

Back To The Floor

It's thanks to Jerry the plumber that I passed out this morning at 6:15am. Though I did feel decidedly better once I'd hoisted my legs onto the downstairs loo: ah, that sweet mix of blood and oxygen, bring it on.

I say when it drops, oh you gonna feel it
Know that you were doing wrong.
--- Toots And The Maytals, Pressure Drop

Super Mario has been hard at it, refitting the smallest room in the house (up the stairs, take a left). Shiny new bath is in and fully piped up -- lovely -- but, inconveniently, there's no convenience as yet.

[**Warning** this para is not for the squeamish] Meantime, slept fine despite the heat of the night, and gained a glimmer of consciousness when my bladder sent a cry for help to my brain. Was trying to shake a horrible dream about undergoing an operation for, erm, liposuction, which may have taken place on an airplane, naturally enough. Who knows why, but my stomach was open to the elements. As I say, horrible. And I'm really not good with those sort of images. And I really needed a wee.

Can't sleepwalk toodle-oo on the landing, so headed groggily downstairs, that ghastly dream unwinding in my head: yuck. Past wifey doing the penultimate packed lunches and into the spare loo. Hit by a wave of peculiarity and remembered some timely advice about getting my heart level with my head, and to the floor I gratefully sank. Not the best of views with my head near the cat litter and the mini compost brown bin. Two minutes down there did the job, righting my equilibrium afore heading back to bed with a restorative cuppa.

Not that we've been here before:

I am not the plumber's mate.

EDitorial ± 18-Jul-2006

Dolmio, June 2006

No time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. Look away now if you don't want to hear the scores, for 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. June 2006 was spent:

  • listening to the incredible story of Robert Evans (Rosemary's Baby, The Godfather, Chinatown, etc) in The Kid Stays in the Picture
  • reading, book the first: the adventures of Thursday Next, volume 2, in Jasper Fforde's Lost In A Good Book
  • reading, book the second: Nick Hornby's two short stories in the special Penguin edition of Otherwise Pandemonium
  • watching far too much footy all the way through from day 1 to day 31
  • losing my temper with The Boy for not wanting to do any more karate lessons
  • switching to Finish Quantum to bring the dishwasher back to life
  • knocking up a homepage for Oxfam at Woodbridge
  • listening to Neil Hannon's latest Divine Comedy outing, the lovely Victory for the Comic Muse
  • watching the season finale of House: I think he'll make it
  • being impressed by what the kids can do with my iSight camera and iMovie
  • getting soaked and soaking others in the in-laws waterfight

And that was June 2006.

EDitorial ± 16-Jul-2006

Jasper Fforde, Ipswich

A lazy Sunday afternoon in metropolitan and happenin' Ipswich: kiddies safely offloaded with little sis to the Indian Summer Mela, exciting WC finale (for this is day 31) to look forward to that evening, and me & wifey off to an Ip-Art literary event -- it's Jasper Fforde, ffiction fformulaist and fformer ffocus-puller. (That's enough effs: Ed)

It's held in the local Film Theatre with proper cinema seats, and Jasper's being interviewed by Rachel Sloane off Radio Suffolk, who handles things nicely. JF wonders if this is a live event or a pre-recorded film: if we don't answer your questions, he says, it's the latter. As they chat I'm trying to think who he reminds me of: Hugh Laurie? Maybe Hugh Grant?

Of course, there's much talk of Swindon, home to Thursday Next and the many other characters from The Eyre Affair, Lost In A Good Book, etc. In an earlier interview, ironically enough, JF had mentioned the negative press that towns such as Swindon, Slough and Ipswich seem to attract, undeservedly. And now he's here.

After an entertaining reading from his newest book -- incidentally, The Fourth Bear is at a ridiculously low £5.58 this week on Amazon, so buy now -- he gives us more info about the streetnames in Swindon that are due to be named after some of his creations. Now there's posterity. He also tells us about his ten minutes as mayor and his various proclamations: Swindon to be an independent republic, a new public holiday, and the official language to be ... Welsh.

Successful and witty, darn him. Like Douglas Adams but still extant.

EDitorial ± 12-Jul-2006

Thomas Dolby, La Scala

Wasn't all kick 'n' rush in the month of June, no sirree. Made the time on day 15 to train it to London for a hyper-rare UK concert by one T.M. Robertson, otherwise known as Thomas Dolby.

Tube to King's Cross, stroll to La Scala, and there's a motley queue (a queue!) snaking round the venue. Freshly bought drink confiscated at the door -- can they do that? -- and up the stairs into the weirdly shaped hall. Already heaving, even more so by the time TMDR finally took the stage in his enormous greatcoat (see these impressive photos taken on the night) and US military-inspired headset.

Opened with Leipzig ("39 and you need some leeway") before his fancy equipment fizzled out. So, while his lackey hit CTRL+ALT+DEL, he spoke, very disarmingly, to us, the crowd. His first London gig since 1992, he said: wow.

Eventually he and his gear got going again, and it was a privilege to hear a handful of tracks from my favourite record, ever, in the flesh. I'd pick out the ever-topical Windpower and the powerful One Of Our Submarines, about an underwater seafaring relative. Enjoyed the video mixing too, reminiscent of his ancient VHS-only concert film Live Wireless. Nice story too about a trip to LA's Griffith Observatory on a sleepless night, seeing the urban sprawl below before, suddenly, a large scale power cut.

Such was the love from the masses that he even got away with (a) introducing his kids, each sporting 1980s Dolby mad scientist specs, and (b) playing a non-naff version of Hyperactive! He seemed genuinely flattered by the reception, and it felt good simply to be there.

EDitorial ± 9-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 31

As Connor MacLeod will tell you, there can be only one. 2006 World Champs are the (in)corruptibles of Italy, while 2006 worst chump is Zinedine "sticks and stones" Zidane. Shearer said it best -- "He's lost his marbles" -- describing ZZ's forehead thump to the thorax of Materazzi, who'd possibly remarked that Zidane Senior smelt of elderberries. Much um-ing and err-ing ensued, then the carte rouge was brandished: au revoir, no buts.

Even with their icon gone and Henry & Ribery pulled off, there still appeared to be twice as many blanc shirts as azure ones. There was a shot of Raymond Domenech kicking over a water bottle in frustration: if only Sven (remember him?) had shown a tad more Seat-like auto-emotion, that could have been us being French fried in the semis.

With no late magic from Grosso and Del Piero, penalty time arrived, and we all knew the Italians would blow it with the inevitable talk of Baggio the Buddhist's 1994 skyrocket. Clearly having not read the script like Brando in Apocalypse Now, up stepped man of the match Pirlo, blue pill red pill Materazzi, excuse my elbow de Rossi, and, with some very tardy prestidigitation, Peckham Del Piero and concerto Grosso. Cue calcio kisses and cavorting, Gattuso losing his shorts and all the team putting their sweaty paws on the cup before it had been officially handed over, tut tut.

Buona notte!

EDitorial ± 8-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 30

Picture the scene: I'm sitting there in the waiting room of the Minor Injuries Unit -- sign on the wall says Do Not Wait In Pain -- trying not to stare at the former Ipswich & England player in the Royle Blue Army top, when I turn to page 3 of the Guardian Sport section to find "ten reasons to support Italy" and another list for France. Been there, done that.

More tears today than an oversized wedding cake. The Boy bashed his knee at the pool yesterday revealing a pain threshold lower than Ronaldo's self-respect. A pre-park shrieking outburst convinced one of his parents that he should see what FIFA would label a DOC, and off we traipsed to the M.I.U. No Jack Bauer though there was the aforementioned erstwhile PFA Young Player of the Year.

Stuck like Vladimir and Estragon, took a call from Eldest, also blabbing, who'd been to the beach with friends and whose blood sugar had evidently bombed. Be home soon, I kind of promised: luckily the recorder sprung to life for Doomsday, the one where Rose dies.

That scene on "Bad Wolf Bay", Billie saying a final if virtual farewell, caused yet more waterworks two down from me on the sofa, as on receipt of a second yellow to rule you out of the final.

And third place goes to Germany, giving Jurgen the biggest of smiles.

EDitorial ± 7-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 29

Top Ten Reasons To Support France in the final:

  1. undertook a Citroen 2CV6 Special in the bike lane this morning
  2. nice to see Arsenal win something
  3. only team to include players called Eric and Sidney
  4. may be able to sneak a free extra shot of espresso at Delifrance
  5. ensures a friendly reception for our summer hols in August
  6. need more cutaways of former French managers during the game
  7. Easter Islanders are demanding the return of Zidane's head
  8. increases likelihood of a BBC4 Truffaut season
  9. might bring a smile back to the St Etienne townsfolk after their 4-1 thrashing by Ipswich in the 1980/81 UEFA Cup
  10. gives 'em something to tell their grandchildren when they get home

Allez Les Bleus!

EDitorial ± 6-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 28

Top Ten Reasons To Support Italy in the final:

  1. was overtaken on Valley Road earlier this week by a Maserati
  2. in the hope that The Pasta Place will give away cakes to celebrate
  3. their penalty-taking makes England look competent
  4. so that James Richardson stays employed
  5. every Ipswichian owes it to the founder of Peter's Ice Cream
  6. my boss landed them in the office sweepstake
  7. 'cos Cannavaro is Mr Cool of calcio
  8. each and every player is contracted to an Italian club: Premiership only gets the aging and the duff
  9. would cheer up Milanese after their 1-0 thrashing by Ipswich in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup
  10. Barzini and the Five Families say so

Forza Azzurri!

EDitorial ± 5-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 27

Persuaded The Boy that we only had time for one DVD episode of Pyramids of Mars so could catch start of the second semi; was never likely to live up to last night's Germano/Italiano treat. Abruptly stopped reading of Harry And His Bucketful Of Dinosaurs when Thierry took a tumble. ZZ, top homme and cool comme une concombre, slotted home: are you watching, Frank, Steven and Jamie?

As the tournament has progressed, my family have mutated into a comfy sofa full of footy pundits. Nice catch!, says The Boy, while Good Lady Wife observes that Portugal truly are the new England: they don't look like scoring, there's not enough bodies forward, and exhibit C, Meira's wild & wide late-on Lampardian shot. Plus there was more diving than a World of Sport clifftop special from Acapulco. Tchau, Portugal.

So very old, so very tired, c/w a goalie who executes comedy saves with his eyes closed, and yet the side coached by an eccentric fashion designer are through to Sunday's grand finale. Felicitations, France.

A word to those German telly Direktors: when there's a lull, your English armchair fan wants to see pretty young things in the crowd, but you give us ex-managers, heads of state and Maradona. Oi: no!

EDitorial ± 4-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 26

Engrossing semi-final this evening to accompany the chicken & broad bean curry. Nil-nil at full time, Bernd Schnieder (a teensy bit darker than Etruscan Red) firing closer than Klose. Into extra time and bang! Alberto "Amazing Animal Band" Gilardino jinked inside to hit the post, Gianluca "Tom Hark" Zambrotta thumped one against the bar: not the Italians' notte. With Oliver Newtown thrown on, you felt it in your Evian that Germany would win on penalties.

Both Lippi and Klinsmann on edge, but how come Jurgen gets away with NOT wearing that monolithic laminated clipboard of a FIFA pass? I think Alan Sugar should investigate. And still, out of character, the Azzurri advanced. Pirlo pushed a pearler of a pass to Grosso who curled it into the corner, beating the unbeatable Lehmann. Yes!, you'd have heard me shout. Del Piero's beaut (yes!!) was the sprinkles on the hot fudge sauce on the knickerbocker glory. Auf Wiedersehen, Germany: they'll be sleeping in their own beds tonight.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, new to the dining table sit the plastic heads of assorted football heroes. Sainsbury's are giving them away. How are the mighty etc.

EDitorial ± 3-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 25

Back at work after The Disappointment to be confronted by my original sweepstake entry -- how long ago was that? -- still securely Maniched to the Compaq monitor. Had fancied my chances of at least getting my money back, guaranteed for all semi-finalists, but was not to be. Easy come, Figo. Chap on my left was, I suspect, even more gutted: he'd been sitting pretty on Brazil. No cash prize for you!

Consonant please, Carol, consonant, another consonant, and a vowel please, Carol. For the final countdown -- they're all from Europe -- it's Lippi's Italics alone among France, Germany and Portugal.

You'd have to fancy the Frenchie fondants, since they've won it no fewer than five times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1969 and 1977), against Italy's brace (1964 and 1990) and Germany's singleton (1982). Portugal have been trying since 1964 without success: Lordi!

EDitorial ± 2-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 24

Unpause. Easy like Sunday morning and it's just like watching Brazil. Except this must be some bizarro universe, 'cos the team stroking it around are wearing blue shirts and feature no players whose names end with the letter "O". Stranger still, the opposition have those bright yellow CBD tops and bad teeth. Weirdest of all, Carry On Clio got the winner. Vive Les Anciens de France!

A suggestion to cheer up those teams KO-ed in the quarters: how's about the mother-in-law of all water fights using those bottles scattered round the touchline?

  • Ex-cap'n Beckham and Roberto Carlos could have a quiet word with their sponsors and obtain high-powered hoses connected to a tanker of pure Pepsi (oxymoron alert)
  • Gerrard could nip to the Gelsenkirchen branch of Staples for Deutschland duct tape to assemble a Supergun slosher from discarded Pringles tubes
  • Ronaldinho could show off his not-for-matches-that-count double pistol technique, get Cantona to do the voiceover, then sell the film rights
  • Joe Cole would, of course, turn up five minutes after the whole thing had finished

And best of all, little Theo (plastered with factor 50) could finally get a game.

EDitorial ± 1-Jul-2006

World Cup 2006, Day 23

This morning's Guardian headline: Let The Agony Commence. So very true. There was shouting, there was overheating, there were tears, and naturally there were cocktail sausages. And onion rings and happy face biscuits and chipsticks. Vital ingredients for a six-year-old boy's party at home.

Boy's bash was from 3pm, with some other event kicking off an hour later. To be fair he and his seven little mates largely looked after themselves, alternating between picking up assorted weaponry from upstairs and boinging up & down on the £40 bouncy castle (still out back, representing an entire nation's feelings in its now deflated state). Much delayed pass-the-parcel -- soccer Pez dispenser up for grabs -- finally happened at half-time.

What with all the refilling of individually named Fruit Shoot bottles and attending to minor injuries ("Theo's dad, Liam jumped on Theo"), completely missed the Rooney incident, though did witness the Lampard effort that Barnes-Wallaced over the bar.

Worst aspect of the penalties was that tiny ray of hope when Portugal missed two in a row. Perhaps we'd live to fight another day? Maybe, just maybe, this would be the one? Nope. At least the little lads each went away with a souvenir of the occasion, comprising:

  • Chupa Chups lolly
  • self-assembly propellor driven airplane
  • squirty gun
  • black 4Gb iPod Nano laser-engraved with child's name & party date
  • Drumstick lolly
  • small pot of Play Dough
  • rocket balloon
  • piece of dinosaur birthday cake

Out tonight: got second half on pause with France 1-0 up on Brazil. They wouldn't dare to dump the Canarinho, would they?