Wednesday, February 24, 2010

24 February 2010: Pompey

Back in Kokomo now.

On the import side of things, Melbourne's Safeway supermarket (no, it's not Morrison's) (and it's actually owned by Woolworths, which is even weirder) (and no, it's not THAT Woolworth's, it's a different company of the same name) (sheesh)... anyway, said Safeway carried plenty of Cadbury items, including things you can't get easily in the UK any more such as 'Picnic', along with their own special Aussie choccy bars such as 'Cherry Ripe' (guess which fruit features in that chocolate bar) and something called 'Moro' which appears to be a Mars bar made by Cadbury. The Aussie version of 'Heroes' happily contains little bite-size versions of Turkish Delight, which was excellent. Couldn't find any M&S style swiss rolls though. Maybe Nigel Kennedy ate them all.

Also it seems they understand Crunchy Nut Cornflakes over there, so our cupboard now boasts an international range of Crunchy Nut boxes, none of which are from the devoid-of-Crunchy-Nut USA. No Alpen, but we can get that imported from Canada so no major loss there. Apart from that though, the range of imported items was generally restricted to confectionery. Absolutely no Vegemite was brought in.

Back here though, and the jet-lag is weird this time. Go to bed around 10pm, wake up an hour later and stay awake until 4am? Then up as usual at 6 or 7 and head to work... so I'm not on Australia time, it's just something weird and in-between. Feel like a zombie, to be honest. (And why are there no zombies around any more, by the way? Answer: life insurance policies - they don't cover being undead, so in order to ensure payout zombies have to go into hiding and never be seen. Just thought I'd share that observation.)

Finally, Portsmouth FC (otherwise known as the Pompey Skate Scummers or other equally-rude words) are on the verge of going under. The question is, how far and how quickly? Unlike Saints last year who approached it in a relatively sane and legal manner, Pompey have spent most of this year buying players and getting loan players in who they flat-out can't afford and only now, when the tax people are saying "hang on, why haven't you payed any tax for the last 3 years?" did a court case come, and now (well, Friday) administration. Opinion seems divided on whether even the administration is legal. Rumours abound that actually there's a lot going on below the surface that's even more dodgy, and words such as money-laundering by the four owners they've this year continue to be bandied around.

The thing is, the Premier League don't want bad publicity, and therefore the illegalities will probably be swept under whatever carpets can be found. Let's be honest: if they (and the police) had really investigated illegal goings on, Tottenham Hotspur wouldn't be riding high in the Prem right now because Harry would be in prison. Possibly multiple times. So whether anything will happen beyond a 9-point deduction and subsequent relegation remains to be seen. Don't hold your breath.

On the other hand, don't be surprised if the current and past owners, in some guise or other, miraculously come up with a 'rescue package' to take the club out of administration in the next week or so. Into admin, clear the debts, take the points hit, and off we go again. You'd think HMRC might have something to say about that, wouldn't you?

Once again, don't hold your breath.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

13 February 2010: Violin

I'm in Melbourne. The one in Australia.

So to break up an unexciting Saturday afternoon alone in a city where I've previously visited for two days and, indeed, previously made curry, I decided to go for a walk along the south bank of the Yarra river and see if there were indeed the promised Botanical Gardens a short distance upriver.

And to further set the scene, I had my Southampton shirt on, given that Saints are playing Pompey (who, by the way, are trading while insolvent, and yet even the High Court doesn't seem to mind - how does THAT work?). And walking along I saw several Liverpool shirts (presumably they're playing as well today). Then under a bridge and towards the gardens and there was a bloke jogging towards me in an Aston Villa shirt.

Jogging slowly. With quite a belly. And a young kid by his side riding a bike slowly, keeping pace, and the two of them talked. And the man had stubble, and grey hair spiked up as if he was twenty and it was the late 1980s.

And as I passed them, I heard him lisping out a relatively high-pitched effeminate English accent. And I realised it was Nigel Kennedy.

OK, so twenty years ago it would have been more cool to say "I saw Nigel Kennedy jogging" but a quick Google reveals he is indeed in town this week playing three concerts and getting the interesting of the local newspapers.

The Botanical Gardens, meanwhile, were quite a disappointment (I mean, they were ok, but no better than the ones at Southampton University and let's face it, Melbourne gets more tourists than the back of the SU building on the Highfield Campus) so I went back to the hotel. Saints-Pompey takes place around midnight here and nobody is televising it live (the company who have the rights, Setanta Australia, are showing it in full at 9.15am tomorrow morning, urgh) so I'll just wait and catch up on the internet in the morning.

Rumour is Saints are going to play 'Summer Afternoon' by The Kinks as the teams run out. Why? First line:

The taxman's taken all my dough...

Mwa ha ha ha. (No, I have no sympathy. They had none for Saints last summer and at least we we didn't flagrantly break insolvency laws).

Postscript: For those who don't keep track of Gloria's Facebook, the news is that we're expecting a new arrival to our family on or around August 17th. Out of first trimester now, so time to tell people. We haven't figured on names yet but we like the idea of names that might make for some fun initials: for example, a girl might be Aribella Renee McRae-Spencer. ARMS. Or if it's a boy, we're probably looking to avoid something like Bartholomew Uriah McRae-Spencer. Hours of fun...

Postpostscript: For those who don't know who Nigel Kennedy is and who can't be bothered to type his name into Google, he's a very good classical violinist who actually hit the mainstream album charts around 20 years ago with his interpretation of Vivaldi's Four Seasons (as opposed to Frankie Valley's Four Seasons). He had trademark spiky hair and a lisp, but was generally regarded as cool, and the everyone liked him because he brought classical music to the attention of everyone, including young people with spiky hair and who supported Aston Villa.

Postpostpostscript: He did look pretty chubby though. I don't think he goes jogging all often, or if he does he prepares for it by eating chips.