Friday, 20 November 2009

More Hands than a German Telephone Directory!

Not this summer, but the one before the one before that, a friend – let’s call him Andy – who lives somewhere in Germany, asked me to send him a letter from San Francisco.

As a joke I decided to send him A, and subsequently B, C etc etc – he he he – but eventually it turned into an “alphabet challenge” and I sent him news or views of the city inspired by each of the letters.

I think the ‘analphabetic’ order was – eventually – GCMFKOSAVWYUQJDTBEZNLHIRPX.

The summer after he challenged me to do something similar in Seattle but insisted that I use the titles of Shakespeare’s Plays as the inspiration.

We finally agreed on – Hamlet King Lear Macbeth Othello Romeo and Juliet The Merchant of Venice Henry V part one Henry V part two All's Well That Ends Well As You Like It The Comedy of Errors Love's Labours Lost Measure for Measure A Midsummer Night's Dream Much Ado About Nothing The Taming of the Shrew The Tempest Twelfth Night Two Gentlemen of Verona The Winter's Tale – though not, I think, in that order.

This month I have set my own challenge – to write all of November’s posts around a theme of “Coincidence” – and so far we have had; Wall (Berlin), Stanley (Berlin Wall), Charlotte (Nutella), Karl Heinz (Berlin), Berlin Wall (bananas), Sesame Street (wall), Spam, Balham Underground Station, Friday Thirteenth (late), Water (moon and dog), Michael Jackson, Schmunzeln and Desperately Seeking Coincidence.

A rich cultural content I think you’ll agree.

Since I set the challenge myself I retain the right to abandon it whenever I choose, and have thought about doing so various times, but today I would like to take you somewhere I hadn’t expected to go when I started.

Future Coincidence!

It hasn’t happened yet - but it surely will.

I predict that at sometime next June, Argentina (managed by the perpetrator of the Hand of God incident) will play France (captained by the perpetrator of the Hand of Frog incident) in the Football World Cup.

It’s a coincidence waiting to happen, and bound to come to pass - as surely as Iran against U.S.A. came to pass in the 1998 Football World Cup.

Remember – you read it here first!

The blog that predicts the future!

Personally I am REALLY looking forward to the competition. I have written before how I love all the flags and different colour shirts. I love the trivia and drama and I love the fact that New Zealand have qualified AND that I have to get my Atlas out to find where Slovenia is.

France is NOT looking forward to it, least not at the moment, as they are in a state of national embarrassment following their “victory’ over Ireland two nights ago.

If you really are a football ostrich what happened is that Ireland played out of their skins, France forgot how to play and in the dying moments their captain Thierry Henry tried a bit of Netball, which lead to the winning goal.

Since then people have been debating, arguing and swearing about it and The Irish and French politicians have waded in.

The French headline this morning said it had become an affair of state.

When I was about 15 I was chosen to represent one of the four “Houses” at my secondary school in a Rugby tournament.

My house was Bingham – an old pupil of the school I think – and not the explorer – and its colour was yellow, my favourite.

I didn’t like rugby, it struck me as a game where the probability that someone would hit you was extremely high – but I was fast and they stuck me on the wing.

During my first year at the school there was no problem, everyone was learning the game so the ball never arrived as far as the wing.

The year after I could see the ball getting nearer to me.

In the third year it was too late, I was in the school team - mainly because the more astute kids had worked out that all you needed was a doctor’s note and you could spend games smoking behind the squash courts.

One Saturday morning we were traveling across south London, through the rain, and a rumour started to circulate that the school we were about to play against counted an England under 18 in their team.

It was true. He was bigger and wider than any teenager any of us had ever seen, athletic, muscular, blessed with African grace and power.

And he played on the wing.

Opposite me.

The first time I received the ball he …. Well….. He didn’t tackle me – that was the strange thing. He just walked towards me, as I started to run backwards, and then he took hold of my shirt collar and shook me, like a rag doll, until I dropped the ball in humiliation.

He picked it up and scored the first of about twenty tries that we were all happy to let him run in as long as he didn’t thump us.

Playing in the inter-house competition was much more fun as no one was really taking it very seriously.

As the evening began to fade, late into the game against the Red house my friend Frankie, the scrum half kicked the ball into the space between full back and try line and I raced off in pursuit.

Suddenly and unexpectedly I was alone with bouncing ball and three certain points.

Unfortunately, in my excitement I was going faster than the ball and was now in front of it.

The referee – the chemistry teacher – was out of sight as were most of the other players so I scooped the ball with my arm, committing an undeniable fowl (knock on) and then picked it up as it bounced in front of me and dived head first into the mud and puddles over the try line.

Did I cheat?


Did they have slow motion cameras? No.

Did I confess?


Did my team win?


Ah, come on, it’s only a game!

Thierry Henry doesn’t have the luxury I had, AND he has the French character make up that means he will have to talk and philosophise about it for weeks, months and maybe years.

And a lot of people aren’t going to let him forget.

In fact the Irish nation, worried about the economic cost of non-qualification, would probably do very well to start the t-shirt presses rolling.

There is a fortune to be made when France meet Argentina next June.

Apparently there is also a 100 to 1 bet that you can make that Nivea will hire Mr. Henry for hand lotion ads.

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