Sunday, October 21, 2012

I bought a car on the back of a Jeremy Clarkson review

I love my new car. I like how it is economical, sleek and comfortable. I like too that although I'm not that bothered about cars as totems, it nevertheless says something about me. Not much, you understand, because it is only a car.
Yes, I've bought, or should I say leased, a Toyota Prius. In the first month I've already been to Newcastle, Liverpool (twice), Nottingham, Sheffield, Derby and all around the North West. It has never felt like hard work and has been easy to drive through the night. It handles well. I nearly ran over a couple of pedestrians in Chinatown today as they don't sense it when it is in silent EV model at 10mph. And I know this seems so incredibly minor, but it seems to work with my phone and music player and sat nav. Something that somehow didn't happen for me with my previous cars (Audi A4 and Fiat 500).
But more than that, I also have to say too that I was tipped over the edge by the vendetta waged on this car by Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear. I love that he hates it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

First awayday for the kids

I took two of the lads to their first trip out on the road with the Barmy Army. I wouldn't contemplate it with the Kean Out vitriol of recent seasons - stories of fans arguing and fighting wasn't worth it to me.

We chose a short drive to Pride Park to see Derby County against the Rovers. The game should have been wrapped up within an hour. Despite some huffing and puffing Derby were palpably weaker in all departments than Rovers. After Jordan Rhodes put Rovers ahead, everyone in the stadium expected the dominance in midfield to show, but with 5 minutes left on the clock Derby slotted a deserved equaliser. I say deserved because a complacent and lazy performance doesn't ever deserve a win.

And I took the flag, but it was inspected before I was able to display it.  What if it said "Love Rovers, Hate Venky's"? or "Forever Rovers - Never Venky's"? then Derby's stewards would have prevented me from putting it up. Not unexpected, but out of order.

Literature and football

A novel or a film about football can't match the genuine sense of jeopardy or drama of sport. It can exaggerate it, or even explain it. But it only ever seeks to use sport as a backdrop or as a very dominant proxy character. I say all of this after spending a very engaging 90 minutes discussing two books at an event at the Manchester Literature Festival with their authors. The writers in question are David Conn (Richer Than God) and Rodge Glass (Bring Me the Head of Ryan Giggs), both were funny and gave great anecdotes about their books and their personal relationship with football. 
I would recommend both books. 
David Conn writes expansively and draws on a depth of research and social analysis that marks him out in a world of football writers that rather hang off the coat tails of the machine. He's rather earned the freedom to do that and in so doing imparts some uncomfortable truths. Though football is the starting point, he makes incisive observations on flows of international capital, how Manchester's poor haven't gained from the riches of football and leveraged buyouts. But I found myself disagreeing with some of his economic conclusions, and rather looking forward to a more searing attack on Abu Dhabi's riches and the politics of oil, which never came. That said, there are none better. I also sensed a deeper story on his personal journey, but that's his choice.
Rodge Glass similarly researches hard. There is little to fault the detail of the story of Mikey Wilson, an authentic Manchester tale of disappointment. Some have said he resembles Zadie Smith and Hanif Kureshi, but I liked his monologue on the reality of sport which was resonant of John Niven's dissection of the music business in Kill Your Friends. There's also something of David Peace's reality fiction.    
But have a peek at these reviews of the event.


Monday, October 01, 2012

Watching Chester's revival at Stalybridge

We fancied some real football on Saturday so took in a trip up to Bower Fold, home of Stalybridge Celtic to see the visit of Chester, a club which has fallen through the leagues only to bounce back again.

As I've been to Hyde a few times this season it seemed traitorous to go on the home end of their bitter enemies, so we joined the 800 or so Chester fans behind the goal. The first half was horribly, cruelly, one sided with Chester setting up a 4-0 half time lead. The second half was a 2-2 draw, which is all the Celtic bench of Jim Harvey and Tim Ryan could have hoped.

I liked Bower Fold, a nice little stadium, two stands and two covered terraces. It's my 133rd ground on which I've watched senior football. These trips are fun, a glimpse into a slightly more joyful and honest version of football. It's also heartening to see so many fans rally to the flag of their club after everything they've been through.