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Look what I got

Someone very kindly bought me back a vuvuzela directly from South Africa. It was an unexpected gift and it lifted an otherwise tiresome day.  

I go to a writers’ group at the Palace Theatre at the moment. It is a new project and I like it because we are a mix of ages. The youthful vuvuzela bearer brought back two: one for me and one for a retired teacher I’ll call Mr Morrell. The age gap must be about fifty years between those two and I sit somewhere in the middle of the range.  

He also brought some small stone elephants for another member of the group, wrapped in South African newspaper. I really wanted the newspaper fragments, but they were still needed for the elephants. So I contented myself with looking at a furniture store advert to see what manner of sofa you can get in Cape Town.  

Souvenir hunting can seem a bit Abigail’s Party in the wrong hands, but this young man pulled it off with grace and charm. He said after the England v Algeria match he needed to hit the shops for therapeutic purposes. He also said he thought JT had a lot to answer for…  

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Things I’ve found to enjoy in this World Cup (against all odds)

Japan: I’ve loved watching their games.  Attacking endurance football which makes for an entertaining spectacle.  Hope they continue their onward scurry.

Diego: Oh how I hated Maradona back in the day, but 1 tonne of Colombian marching powder down the line I am feeling the little man’s power.  As an insightful caller to Talksport said (they have the odd one you know) he might be as mad as a fish (that’s my cliche) but he knows how to get the extra 10% out of the players and fosters team spirit.

Adams: Tony was on Desert Island Discs and said he had not heard the vuvuzelas.  When asked by Kirsty how he could have missed them he said he watches with the sound down so better to see the game.  Quite right Tony, got a spare seat on your sofa?

Truss:  Lynne, from “Get her off the pitch”.  She writes little vignettes for the Radio 4 Today programme and I  find her most amusing, not least about the commentators (see Adams above).

Claude: Makelele was completely transformed from stuffed shirt studio pundit when pitchside for Ghana’s win over the USA.  The whole of Africa was dancing with you Claude.

South Africa: the host nation looks fantastic, acts fantastic, is fantastic.  Only the early bath teams can be letting the experience down for those who have travelled.

France: their unravelling was most gratifying, entertaining and not just a bit existentialist.

Messi: was there ever a better player in such understated turtleneckedness?

Reasons to be cheerful?

edited to add:

Tevez: the little pit pony’s strike would have had Fergie weeping into his Scotch

“The Big Fight”

I saw this collage a few months back and it has stayed with me. The artist was a German, forced into exile by the Nazis before the Second World War. He made his home latterly in England and died in Ambleside in the Lake District.

I would like to see more of his work.

Kurt Schwitters 1947


Today’s Irish Derby has the potential to be hugely dull, especially happening as it does at 5.10. I am sure it’s not that late normally. Have the Irish moved it back on account of a certain football match? Surely not. Anyway that will work well enough if we are not in extra time by then.

The potential dullness is due to 5 of the 11 runners being from Ballydoyle and 5 of the 11 being by the Ballydoyle pre-potent sire Galileo. I always used to sit up and take notice of a Galileo, but the ubiquity of his offspring is a negative for me in this race. So, looking for a better story, I would like to back the outsider Puncher Clynch who is by Azamour and the more fancied and supplemented Monterosso for Dubawi.

As for the football, our oldest ever team faces Germany’s youngest ever. Youth over experience didn’t stop Ghana yesterday, but Germany have managed to chuck in the odd pants performance of their own. One suspects neither team are going to go down that road today: it’s going to be nail-biting.


And for those of you who notice such things, I am disgusted by the text’s close hugging of the image and have tried many formatting changes to fix it.  But I can’t and I am off for a coffee.

Ale: full of antioxidants

Which are, by all accounts, jolly good for you.  This is just as well because the 5%+ alcohol content is less so – especially when consumed in some quantity.  The jolly goodness of an odd beer has been amply demonstrated by England against Slovenia yesterday: reportedly Cappello relaxed his regime to allow the Lions a beer the night before the match.  Evidently a little kicking back can do the power of good, I may have mentioned this before… 

Of course, I am far too classy to get slaughtered over a mere England Group Stage Crunch Football Match; in the absence of Fabio to keep me I line, I got properly mashed up well in advance last week when the Devon Home Cook came to stay.  We did around the South of England in Ale.  Very nice it was too.  I can recommend the Admiral’s (a Cornish Supreme Champion Ale) and the Doom Bar (also Cornwall), although if  I can get Adnams (Suffolk) of any kind on draught I am in heaven and I can never pass up a Fuller’s (London Darling) Honeydew.  I am not too fussy.  The Devon Home Cook is pretty fussy, it goes with the cheffing territory I think. 

On the football front yesterday it was what Desailly on ITV said.  One swallow does not a summer make, but a few good English ales, laden with healthy antioxidants, will certainly fill the void in the meantime.

P.S. Although the football continues to hog the headlines the amazing longest set ever (longest match ever, most aces served etc.) continues at Wimbledon later.  I believe they are 59 games apiece.  Truly mind-boggling endurance from the two athletes, Mahut and Isner, both mental and physical. They’ll definitely need a recovery beer after all that.

And one of my top two favourite fillies in training, Seta, runs today at Warwick.  Today is a sporting day to be enjoyed with no anxiety, until the next time.  Sunday will come too soon.

Gogos GoneGone (I hope it’s not an omen)

We had a bit of a England Football Team Gogo purchasing frenzy at the weekend.  Something to do with my minor obsession with getting a Theo Walcott Gogo.  We still haven’t found Walcott, or Cappello, which might be just as well in the case of the latter.

Anyway, I lined them up to see if we had enough to start today against Slovenia, and this was what we had.

So I drafted in a few extra to make up the numbers and inject some footballing grey matter and searing pace down the left wing.  The Angel With The Chipped Wing just angled into shot on its own account.

The turqoise one for a hat trick

It’s as well I took the shot at the weekend.  CJ the Gogo manager, despite sleeping with them and bringing them with her in her marble bag into my bed too, gave them all away bar Heskeyon a free transfer at school yesterday 😦  She has learned nothing from the Crouch/Rooney debacle it seems.

Fair enough, I’ve been having my biltong with Fabio, but when the chips are down (like this afternoon) I am right behind the team and as the Manager has finally admitted to “perhaps” having made some “mistakes” I am feeling a bit more optimistic.

GoGo England!

My 12 Step England Recovery Mission

1. Fly (yes fly) to South Africa, time now being of the essence
2. Get me some henchmen
3. Kidnap Fabio
4. Lock him up (largely unharmed, bruised ego?)
5. Bury the key
6. Send a ransom note to FIFA or the FA or Mrs Fabio
7. The note demands David B be left in charge of England
8. David B to put the M&S uniform suits on a bonfire
9. Team to hang loose, wear their own clobber, have a drink and go to bed at midnight
10. Kick Rooney up the arse
11. Fit players with rocket-propelled boots

Sub points include:

i) buy a vuvuzela
ii) see a giraffe
iii) visit Boulder Beach
iv) release Fabio
v) walk home

Cappello & England: The Key?

Unfortunately for a a blog title, the key has a rather long and unwieldy moniker, namely: Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

Prof. Geert Hofstede conducted perhaps the most comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. Geert Hofstede analyzed a large data base of employee values scores collected by IBM between 1967 and 1973 covering more than 70 countries, from which he first used the 40 largest only and afterwards extended the analysis to 50 countries and 3 regions.

The dimensions that apply most directly to England and the manager are those of Individualism and the Power Distance Index. Italy scores high on Power Distance Index (how much society needs rules and expect power to be distributed unequally) and low on Individualism (they integrate well into groups).

England’s scores are opposite: higher Individualism and lower PDI, they need more autonomy and less rules and authority.

So Cappello cannot help but employ an autocratic authoritarian rule in the England camp, and the English lads cannot help but be crushed by it.
It also shows us that Cappello cannot, as part of his culture, change his mind mid-match when things aren’t working because he is governed by rules. We have, in the England camp, a fundamental mismatch of cultures.

Interestingly, if you look at the Dimensions for Sweden (thinking Sven) they are high Individualism, very lower Power Distance Index and Masculinity is on the floor…

The reason I am interested in these Dimensions is because the Uncertainty Avoidance Index is alive and jumping in my house. Jamaica scores low on this one, the UK higher.

People in uncertainty avoiding countries are also more emotional, and motivated by inner nervous energy (UK). The opposite type, uncertainty accepting cultures (Jamaica), are more tolerant of opinions different from what they are used to; they try to have as few rules as possible, and on the philosophical and religious level they are relativist and allow many currents to flow side by side. People within these cultures are more phlegmatic and contemplative, and not expected by their environment to express emotions.

I am not a big fan of academic models, but Hofstede’s Dimensions make a whole heap of sense. They also tell me England need, either another Swedish Manager, or a Yardie one.

N.B. This does not explain Alex Ferguson. Sadly there is no graph for Scotland. A serious oversight by Hofstede I feel.

The C Word

I just used it in a text about England’s manager.

Stubborn and wrong: there ain’t no worse combination in the world.

It’s all in the pedigree, whether it’s a maiden at Kempton, or a match in Cape Town. The lads are crushed under the strict regime. It’s like a relationship that doesn’t work when push comes to shove.

Trust me.

You said it

Advance Excuse No. 1 (blame the manufacturer)

If things don’t go our way later this evening, or next week, or indeed thereafter let’s blame this:

A bad workman blames his tools?

Fabio says it’s like playing with a *boiled egg. Stevie G says it’s hard to control off the ground. Best hoof it then lads.

Before that excitement we are in Day 4 in Berkshire. Timepiece remains my best result so far, yesterday was a bit of a Royal washout. Today I am commending the chances of a couple of nags, but I don’t know which ones yet…

Watch out for the update.

*I think that’s what he said, he’s a bit of a mumbler.

Warming to my theme

Disclaimer: This is going to be a bit random, but the England manager idee fixe has raised it’s ugly head again. Better I bore cyberspace with it than my nearest and dearest.

I had to buy a cheap paper today. The kids needed £2.10 per head and that is a most awkward sum if you only have a fiver. So I bought the Sun. *Hangs head in shame*

Murdoch’s henchmen lured me into this heinous crime with these backpage headlines:

FULL OF FEAR – Capello’s men look edgy says Dempsey
& FABIO sticks to his name game

So despite my sister’s, mine and Bob Wilson’s best advice, if we are to believe the Sun, Fabio will continue with his perverse policy of naming the starting line-up 2 hours before kick off.

Ok we all know he has only limited resources, he’s not going to shock us with a “Peter Shilton in Goal” headline but Cappello’s stubborn insistence that this method has served him well throughout his career is missing the point (my point, my wagon, don’t forget!).

He has only managed Latino sides at club level. Salaried players who will want their place in the team, but are probably never in doubt that they will start anyway so robust tends to be their self-belief, and who can always enjoy a balmy night off if the worst comes to the worst.

Fabio does not feel the weight of expectation that his players do, because he has the same Latin ego as his former inmates. Our lads are desperate to play and desperate to play well. In those hours leading up to kick-off they will want to start more than they are able to hear what his match plans for the team are. And that will go double for the goalkeepers. I am sure keeping the Italian Stallions on their ponio toesio competing for their places until the last minute worked quite nicely at club level, but English men are not cut from the same cloth. It’s not a worse or necessarily better cloth, it’s just different and Fabio’s hacking into them with a pair of pinking shears is not doing them much good.

Full of fear indeed.

Borzois - my favourite