Friday, June 27, 2008

Hubble Bubble

I just don’t get it. After accepting Stephanie’s offer of some hydrotherapy for my stiff knees, Madam has gone off on one. I have tried to explain that the shoes I am required to dance in have very little cushion in the sole. I feel the impact in my knee joints particularly during the Rumba. As I am not allowed to dance in my Reeboks I have made an attempt to address the problem. Stephanie kindly offered to treat us both one evening to some hydrotherapy, an invitation that Madam has chosen to decline. Fortunately while we were having this discussion Brandi dropped round for her morning coffee, I explained my knee problem and Stephanie’s suggested course of treatment, and she kindly offered to accompany me to Guido’s and Stephanie’s for the evening as she had twinges across her back. Madam rudely remarking behind Brandi’s back that it was down to carrying two silicon footballs around on her chest all day, which set us off again. I explained in hushed tones that Brandi obviously had body issues, and was only being friendly. As my own wife was unwilling to come along for treatment I would take Brandi and introduce her to some more people, she was still a newcomer to the village after all. Madam snorted, and said that Brandi had already introduced herself to a large proportion of the village, and that if I went through with this ridiculous charade of hydrotherapy I would be sleeping in the shed.

I picked Brandi up the following evening at seven; she had obviously been practicing some new cheerleader routine as she had on her gold shorts and t-shirt with some funky plastic high heeled shoes. She explained that she was looking forward to some physio on her back, to which I concurred, explaining that my knees were particularly stiff today, startling me as she gave my knee a gentle squeeze “ Honey I just know this bit of physio is going to get your knees back in swell shape”
Arriving at Guido and Stephanie’s terraced house, Guido met us at the door still in his dancing gear, Stephanie showed us through to the garden where there was a cedar clad hydrotherapy pool. Brandi climbed in hot pants and all; I changed into my trunks and lowered myself into the far corner. The relief was instant, the warm bubbles gently caressed my aching knees, Stephanie appeared in a fetching two-piece swimsuit with a bottle of fizz. Popping the cork she climbed in beside Brandi and I. Brandi was thoroughly relaxed popping up from the bubbles to say “ We’re all friends here, anyone mind if I take a few of my duds off, it is so liberating and helps me deal with body issues” at which she flung her gold shorts and top into the nearest Japonica, a little surprised at this display, I put her behaviour down to her deep state of relaxation. Guido returned and climbed in beside us, Stephanie inquired as to the state of my knees as she topped up my glass. I replied that the hydrotherapy treatment was working a treat, thirty years of football, and two knee operations had turned my cartilage to dust. “Did you know that Guido had been a footballer, he had been on the books at Napoli for two years before being released to a life of dancing” Stephanie remarked. Honoured to be in the same bubbles as someone who had played to such a high level I pressed Guido about his career. He had been at Napoli at the same time as Maradona, and had played chiefly in the reserves featuring ten times in the first team line up before being released from his contract. Fascinated by his story I pressed him further and commented that just because a football career ends it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t find success in another field just look at Gordon Ramsey, at which point Stephanie who had been busy massaging my aching knees remarked “and Rio Ferdinand, I here he’s got a cook book out called Rio’s Sunday Roast, its full of good recipes would anyone like to try one?” I corrected Brandi saying that I was sure it was some other celebrity chef who had a book of the same title, and I was sure that Guido could be more successful in the dance world than he had been on the football field. Stephanie stopped rubbing my knees and turned her attention to Brandi’s back, Guido leapt out of the treatment area, he would love to try one of Rio’s recipes, would I like to see some mementos of his time at Napoli, while he took Stephanie and Brandi upstairs to search for Rio’s cook book. Unable to believe my good fortune and not wanting to press the point about Rio not being an author I sat down at the garden table and leafed through two years worth of a professional footballer’s life at Napoli. Guido, Stephanie and Brandi searched for Rio’s cook book upstairs for over an hour, the banging and crashing as they moved furniture in search of the non existent tome drew cries from the neighbours; the trio returning to the garden a little dishevelled but in good humour after their fruitless search.

Driving home thoroughly relaxed after our hydrotherapy treatment, I remarked to Brandi that I hoped she hadn’t hurt her back again moving furniture at Guido’s and Stephanie’s Brandi assured me that her back had never been better and that she hadn’t had treatment like that since her weekend at Hef’s place, which I can only assume is some Californian physiotherapy clinic. Returning home, I did, as expected spend the night in the shed, a night that passed better than expected after my delve through the life of an ex professional Latin footballer.

They think its all over

Sorry, bit pre-menstrual so prepare for a rant. No! Why the hell should I apologise, we are slaves to our bloody hormones, something you idle Oestrogen free prehistoric footballing males don’t seem to understand. If we feel a need to let fly every four or five weeks - live with it! And don’t you dare try and be understanding, because that’s just it, you don’t! Understand that is, now what was I going to write about?

For two weeks now we have been bombarded with the group stages of the European Chumpionship. Two games a day, between teams from all parts of Europe bar the British Isles, 3 hours of inane commentary on inconsequential football blasted from our Television and Radio. Of course we have not missed a game. Even when out we have had the car radio tuned in, or Himself has been linked up to his earpiece. While shopping in the Supermarket one evening my “tuned in" husband picked up an unusually shaped courgette with a bulbous end just as Spain, one of the smallest sides in the tournament scored. Leading him to exclaim loudly, “ Yes! Get in there! These little buggers are great at getting round the back of the stoutest defence, they really are a few steps on from stuffed donkeys and sombreros” Aisle cleared we continued to shop, with occasional loud comment from husband startling several shoppers. We arrived at the meat counter, just as Turkey scored a late winner leading husband to cry out “No, not Turkey, not bloody Turkey, that’s just awful” Led from the supermarket we returned to our car, husband putting on the radio for the latest phone in, oblivious to the fact that we were now barred from one of three supermarkets in town, with two weeks of competition remaining it may be prudent to take lessons in self sufficiency.

Now here’s the real pre-menstrual beef, just occasionally some of this tournament football can be nearly exciting; a close finish, extra time in Mediterranean heat. Sweat soaked Latin bodies, the tension of the penalty shoot out, the passion of the winners, the broken men who lose, the damaged men who are sent from the field, the white knight goal scoring champion; all add to the occasion, and provide points of interest for the female viewer. It is at times of such tension that we are treated to the modern day curse of televised football, the inane commentator. TV and Radio both are pretty much the same. If it’s the radio, then its Alan Groanie, an Irishman whose brogue is in desperate need of resoling and reheeling. The man wavers between being on the edge of disaster or completely disinterested in what is going on in front of him, with no middle ground. There may be twenty two footballers out on the pitch trying their best for the country Groanie ignores their efforts and becomes preoccupied with the performance of the man in black. One of my favourite ways to kill an afternoon is to watch Test match cricket on the TV with the radio commentary on. Try this with football and Groanie and it is unclear as to whether he is watching the same match. Alan is always accompanied by an expert summariser; King of them all Chrissy Waddle, a man who spends his whole life living in the past tense. “ He’s came round the back to score” “He’s went and put the ball in the back of the net” He’d be a sure-fire hit on any show dealing with all things past –such as The Antiques Road Show, Time Team, or a DJ on Gold FM.
On the TV we are graced with not only the inane commentary but also the studio panel and presenter, with two channels showing games, each channel trying to outdo the other. On BBC we have the Lounge Lizard Lineker, coupled with Football’s Trinny and Sussanah, Hansen and Lawrenson. Good old British bulldog Alan Shearer, and the intellectual Irishman (Groanie take note) Martin O’Neil. Now this lot I can live with for fifteen minutes of half time, all have nice shirts have dispensed with ties and generally jolly each other along with 19th hole style joshing and chat. Its a mans’ world, that turns a blind eye to Alan Hansen’s extraordinary eye make up and his eye brows that a Brazilian ladyboy would die for; a myth enhanced by the fact that we never see his shoes. Over on the other channel the matters are given far more gravitas. Presenters wear ties and they have desks and pens, the estuarine chat of Andy Townsend “He’s done him early doors” coupled with the Oliver Reed of Football analysis Sam Allardyce, reveal little about the game. The shows creators have even gone as far as to slip Allardyce into Reed’s suit replete with genuine 1983 sambuka stains.
Cricket radio commentary is fantastic and knocks football's efforts at painting a picture for six; rarely is anyone allowed to get too full of themselves and rain or shine the day jollies along. TV commentary used to be the same, dear old Peter West, fresh in from a night out presenting Come Dancing, dozing on the sofa. Tony Lewis and Jim Laker prodding him awake to hand over to Richie Benaud and the scorer whose name bought sniggers to many a young cricket watcher Wendy Winbush. Richie didn’t say a lot, didn’t need to if he couldn’t add to the picture. Oh for the days of Slick Dickie Davis, Gerald Sinstadt, Brian Moore, the wonderfully cheesy ice commentary of Alan Weekes, the simply bonkers Murray Walker, or the all round exotic sporting knowledge of Frank Bough.

Friday, June 13, 2008

And so we dance on

And so the dance continues, like two turkeys making out in the yard, he wobbling his wattle while I shake my tail feathers. Dances portraying tales of youthful ardour and lust, played out by a couple of middle aged hoofers stomping around the dance floor in their weekly attempt to rekindle a spark to a fire that is in grave danger of being doused.
We are still the oldest and wobbliest couple on the floor, Guido and Stephanie patience personified in their efforts to get us to glide rather than shuffle. But still we return, I for Guido’s firm grip, and he for Stephanie’s flirty manner. Laughing at his weak jokes and listening intently to all he has to stay, warning bells ring out loud to a spouse when ladies like Stephanie are in town. Warning bells that are soon drowned out by the soft whispered Latin instruction from Guido; like a Mediterranean Barry White, his tone like honey drizzled on my eardrum.
To date we have perfected the Paso – Ha! And moved onto the Jive. Lots of bouncing around kicking and flicking with the odd spin and throw. The knees of the forty year old professional footballer in waiting, a little short on spring and bounce, the creaking audible to all on the floor. Of course I am full of spring and bounce, it would take a Kevlar bra to keep these knockers under control, Guido particularly keen for me to practice my alternate flick kicks, while throwing the opposite arm back in turn.
On repatriation with husband we attempted the same manoeuvre to a faster beat, my husband struggling to keep the tempo felled a neighbouring dancer with his flying arm, the unfortunate lady falling to the floor blood pouring from her nose. Guido stopping the music as the stricken dance duo were led from the room for medical attention. Mortified by my husband’s inability to carry a tune, I let fly. Why did he always have to ruin anything I enjoyed doing? Why must he have such ungainly arms? What the hell was he doing with Stephanie in the pasodoble? Guido intervened, waving on the caretaker to mop the blood from the floor, and restarting the music for another attempt at the Jive. Husband and I were separated, he with the vivacious Stephanie I with the understanding Guido. Safely returned to the Latin Octopus, I hastily apologised for me husband’s behaviour, he obviously needed wing mirrors while negotiating the dance steps, he was a footballer not a dancer and was the same around the house. Guido suddenly emboldened with Latin thrust, informed me that he and Stephanie sensed that there were problems at home through the way we danced, the music reveals all, the dance cannot lie. Stephanie held classes on another night if I were interested, teaching the magic of the pole and the lure of the lap. Guido himself was happy to provide further instruction on a “ménage a trios” basis He and Stephanie could do alternate weeks if necessary. Stephanie and he had embraced the idea of an open marriage and were currently involved in something called “The lifestyle” which involved sexual relations in a hall of some sort in front of an audience to swing music? Or at least that’s how it sounded. I explained to Guido that while husband and I may be experiencing some difficulties, it was not something that would be solved by some group community sex project; we may be going through a rocky patch, but it was something that could easily be sorted out with a little more understanding from both sides, a move from the jive to the salsa and a few popped footballs.
Guido handed me back to husband, who full of the joys of the Jive informed me that, blood injuries are quite a common occurrence during the jive and that Stephanie had invited us both around to join her and Guido for an evening in the hot tub, apparently its great for creaky knees and could bring a whole load of bounce and drive back to our dance. With the memory of Guido’s invitation still fresh in my ear, and the vision of what Guido, Stephanie et al, may get up to in their hot tub clear in my mind. I grabbed husband with renewed vigour and verve, jiving his ass off for the rest of the session; a sensational display of dancing that sent a clear message to those who could read it, that there was still a little life left in this relationship for these champions of monogamy,

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eurovision Football Chumpionship

This year we are again blessed with the biennial early summer football tournament; European Championship alternating with the World cup. Austria and Switzerland this year hosting Europe’s finest national football teams. This does not include any of the teams from these shores, so husband and son are at a loss as to what to do. There is the cricket to follow of course, but deep down in their psyche they will be aware of a fiesta of football going on somewhere in the world to which their team was not invited. I did suggest that as an alternative to their early summer football tournament they could get their Euro fix by joining me and a few of my friends at our annual Eurovision binge. Cheap fizzy wine, a wide selection of snacks, all armed with pads to score each act and come up with a winners for categories such as “most unusual shoes”, “person you would most like to be behind in a conga” and “ the performer who most resembles Carol Vorderman” - Lordi won this category hands down two years ago. Lots of fun and very silly, far too silly for husband who was quite vociferous in his protestations that as a leading European footballing nation it was a travesty that his side were not in the finals, one of my friends commented that she thought they had withdrew from the finals on principle like Italy had from Eurovision which proved to be the last straw for husband, stamping off to the local cricket club nets to throw cricket balls as hard as he can at our son’s head. This little scene introduced a new category to the evening, grabbing the European Championship guide from the day’s newspaper we decided to rate each footballing country’s chances of winning the European Chumpionship on their Eurovision performances to date and on the night.

Group A:

Czech Republic:

Unfancied and never won the competition, happy to participate in Eastern bloc voting scams but always the bridesmaid never the bride, not sure they do much singing in Czech Republic too busy playing football, husband would do well here.


Another team never to win Eurovision, Georgie thinks that they gave up a few years ago. Again, struggle to remember any catchy tunes from Portugal and they are good at football, is there a link? Good Football teams don’t come from Singing countries, take note Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle, “Darling I love you whhoooaaaaa”…………… Yes there are more bottles in the fridge.


Joint hosts of the tournament, purveyors of fine chocolate and cuckoo clocks, makers of nice watches, don’t get too excited or agitated, what’s not to like? Well, their winner in 1988 Celine Dion for a start, but they are the country who gave us Eurovision and won the first one in 1958. Not too hot at Footie apparently so more evidence there then.


An emerging Footballing Nation and a disappearing Eurovision one. Went through a phase in the seventies and eighties of asking ageing ladies in black dress fresh from beating Olive trees with sticks to have a go at a tune. Not a successful ploy so they turned to Sertab Erener, oozing Mediterranean swarth with chest wig and twirly moustache. Coming up trumps with the title,”Everyway that I can” albeit singing in English.

Group B:


Footballing co-hosts with the Swiss, a competent Footballing nation matched by their Eurovision pedigree. Their only Eurovision title in 1966, Udo Jurgens belting out “ Mercie Cherie” in leather shorts, backed by an Oompah band. Maya says that Udo went on to manage the Austrian football side, but she often talks bollocks after 9.00pm


Apparently another fine footballing side. They have an unusual checkerboard design on their shorts that unfortunately clashes with the colour of their socks. Conclusive proof that Good footballing nations can’t sing. Struggle in Eurovision but can take some credit for the 1989 Yugoslavian victory that has subsequently been claimed by the Serbs.


More proof of the trend, one of the most successful footballing nations has only won Eurovision once, in 1982 on penalties. Germany have finished in second place in Eurovision more than any other country, a thoroughly efficient performance, Vor sprung der Technik as they say in….. Oh good grief it’s the adverts, more Fizz anyone?


Never won Eurovision, never won the European championship, Hmmmm, we’ll ignore this one. Ginny says that Krakow is lovely for a weekend break; with no apparent talent for football or Euro-pop I can quite see the attraction.

Group C:


Giants of the game, and possessor of some of the dreamiest footballers. They have won Eurovision title five times although the last time was in 1977. Get Thierry Henry playing his drums and the title will surely be their’s again. Football wise they haven’t got a hope, not if my theory is anything to go by.


Fine painters and renowned producers of round cheese, but singers they ain’t. They have won the Eurovision title four times, three times in the sixties, and once in the seventies with a well sung song, by a well hung throng of polder people titled “Ding a Dong” Georgie’s advice? Stick to football. Reasonable success on the football field coinciding with their poor run on the Eurovision stage.


Triumphed twice in Eurovision before quitting the scene in a fit of Latin pique at suspect voting patterns; which came as a huge surprise to the rest of Europe who recognised it as a particular Italian trait. Top footballers so I rest my case; although Pavarotti did play in goal.


Another emerging Footballing nation, and disappearing Eurovison one. What more can I say? Case closed.... fetch me more snacks.

Group D:


The exception that proves the rule. Winning the European Championship in 2004, instigating an influx of “cheap Greeks”to English Football, following up with the Eurovision title in 2005 courtesy of Paparizou. Their only position of any note and due in part to them hosting the Olympics in 2004, position of the stars, clouds on Mount Olympus and high spring tides in the Med, whatever, I’m sticking with my “successful footballing nations don’t win Eurovision theory”.


The Great Bear, and newly appointed Eurovision Champions??????. Obviously some Oligarch has flashed his chequebook and bought the Eurovision title, as happened in the premiership for three years (husband is back, wants to have his say. Eurovision not funny, serious stuff……………….stop giggling Georgie)
Right he’s gone, last bottle of fizz? Okay lets toast the new Idol of the East – Russia’s newly crowned Euro king Dima Bilan; dodgy song, sung by a bit of a dish, apparently - Georgie’s got her beer goggles on. Russia average at Footie so the theorem is back on track


Hitting a rich vein of Eurovision form in the sixties taking consecutive titles in sixty eight and sixty nine with the seminal “la la la” and “vivo Cantando” Spain followed it up with a string of second places in the seventies eighties and nineties; Perennial under achievers at major football tournaments. I rest my case.


Giants of the Eurovision scene, home of Eurovision royalty the mighty Abba and outright winners of the title four times spread over four decades. For a country whose population have a reputation for a lot of nudity they have produced some of the more tasteful costumes in recent years. Don’t think they play football, lot of ice in Sweden, probably better at Ice-skating, What, they do? thought he’d gone to bed. Apparently they have performed reasonably on the international football stage even getting to a world cup final, sometime in the Middle Ages.

Fizz, snacks and friends all gone; we have conclusively proved that the team who wins the European Championship will have a poor Eurovision pedigree. Ireland the country with seven Eurovision triumphs are already out, as are England with Five. France with five wins must be discounted as a serious footballing threat, along with Sweden and Holland, both four times winners of the Song Comp. Spain, Italy Switzerland, Austria and Germany have all struggled with singing competitively, as have Russia, Greece, Turkey so are in with a chance on the pitch. My tip for success would come from Croatia, Czech Republic and Romania, they obviously struggle to carry a tune, with their own interpretations of musicality and tunefulness. Football is obviously their thing, Come on Croatia!