Sunday, March 30, 2008

Beer of the week

An interesting one. Sam Smith's reputation with lager isn't great. Alpine Lager is a bit bland and Ayingerbrau is pure and simple loopy juice. Hence it was with trepidation that I tried their Organic Lager and with great surprise that it passes muster. It's a light, refreshing brew with a flowery hint in the after-taste, which marks it as a lager made by a bitterman, but it's none the worse for that. It's not especially strong, making it handy for a session and certainly one that I'll be going back to.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The excitement

Yesterday being the occasion of an arbitrary anniversary of my birth (odd, not prime, less than 50, greater than 21) and on perusal of the eclectic offerings of Action Records of Preston, it has come to pass that I've pre-ordered the new Half Man Half Biscuit long player CSI Ambleside. Bleedin' marvellous. It'll be a happy day when it arrives in about a month.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I've been edited

My most recent assignment for York City was a league game away at Rushden. It was rubbish. So rubbish, that I felt the need to do something... different for the match report. The published version is here. Below is what I actually wrote.

The morning snow had cleared in the bright sunshine as he set off for Northamptonshire on a Saturday morning. Yesterday was the first day of spring, but had brought with it Arctic conditions. 'Spring my backside', he thought as his small French diesel coughed itself into life. Indeed, so cold was it, he wondered if the melting snow would freeze and prompt a postponement.

Stopping for fuel a mile or so from home, he winced as the meter ticked well past the £50 mark, once the young assistant in the shop had realised that she needed press a button to activate the pump. There would be no way he could claim this one back as work mileage. The wind bit as he stood pouring litre after litre of almost priceless DERV oil into the tank of the car. He felt sure there had to be leak somewhere. A car this small simply couldn't take this much filling. He wasn't convinced about the oil levels either as the gears made a crunching sound eerily reminiscent of the noise his right knee makes ever since he wrecked the ACL a few years ago. This car was falling apart more rapidly than his less-than-prime physique.

He'd once promised never to buy another French motor, so why he'd ended up with this is a mystery to all. They're nothing but trouble. Italian cars are the same in his experience. The only link he can find is wine. France and Italy: great wine, rubbish cars. Germany and Japan: awful wine, great cars. It makes sense when you think about it. He likes France and the French, he'd had many a happy holiday down in the south as a child, but swore a terrible vengeance on anyone who had played any part in bolting this shed of a car together.

Nevertheless, he turned for the M1 and the car only complained a little, though the rattle from beneath the bonnet required a much better radio than the one he has. Indeed, he struggled to hear the Premiership team news, not that he's particularly interested, but hearing another human voice at least keeps his mind active above the constant drone as the small car struggles to maintain a steady 68 on the motorway. Every mile and a half seemed to bring a change in the weather: bright sunshine, snow showers, heavy rain, back to sunshine. His cheap supermarket shades were on and off as often as the 'Cletus loves Brandine' sticker on an indecisive redneck's pickup truck. The one constant was the wind that buffeted the car around and forced him to concentrate hard on just keeping it in a straight line. In fact, he almost missed the turn-off for the A14.

45 minutes into the match, he wished he had done. It was all Rushden and any time the ball was cleared up to the front two - Richard Brodie and Onome Sodje this week with Martyn Woolford dropping into midfield to cover the absence of the injured Nicky Wroe - it was coming back just as quickly. And yet Rushden couldn't carve out any clear-cut openings despite dominating possession. Mark Robinson cleared off the line early from Charles Ademeno. The sense of gloom only deepened when Darren Kelly limped out of the game to be replaced by Darren Craddock. Ademeno and Jon Challinor were running the City rearguard ragged and only a wayward Woolford shot provided any respite.

Perhaps he was mistaken in wishing he was elsewhere as the wind swirled around Nene Park and the intermittent snow storms lashed this outpost of Midlands football, he thought when, early in the second half, Ben Purkiss swung in a lovely cross that Brodie met on the run to score a goal that looked as unlikely as Boris Johnson standing for the Liverpool mayorship. The relief was palpable, but quickly dispelled when Rushden hit back through their skipper Chris Hope who had a free header at the back post from a Marcus Kelly free-kick.

And that was that really as the game reverted to type. Rushden huffed and puffed as City chased shadows. A switch to 4-4-2 made little difference, although Simon Rusk limping off with a knee injury made it an expensive draw. It could have been worse as Brodie clashed with Challinor off the ball, the Rushden front man left prostrate on the floor and seemingly complaining about a stray elbow. That it was a draw was thanks in no small part to Hope failing to hit the target when he was again left free in the box with only seconds of stoppage time remaining.

With coat collars turned up against the bitter wind, he headed back to his car, desperately hoping that the heater that had provided little more than a comforting breeze on the way down had enough juice in it to thaw out his hands enough for him to be able to grip the wheel. Heading back north, he had time to reflect that sometimes you just had to accept that football is like that and every club is going to have a game where it just doesn't happen. City haven't had many lately, presumably why he was so disappointed by this one.

The teams:
CITY: Evans; Parslow, McGurk, Kelly (Craddock 15); Purkiss, Elliott, Woolford, Rusk (Lloyd 89), Robinson (Panther 79); Brodie, Sodje.
Subs not used: Mimms, Fortune-West.
Goals: Brodie (54).
Booked: none.

RUSHDEN: Roberts; Osano, Hope, Corcoran, Howell; Burgess, Shaw, Woodhouse, Kelly (El Kholti 74); Challinor (Platt 84), Ademeno (Rankine 69).
Subs not used: Gulliver, Gooding.
Goals: Hope (60)
Booked: none.

Ref: R Whitton
Attn: 1423 (incl 140 away supporters)

Beer of the week

In #1 of a (hopefully) recurring series, this week's beer review is of Kwak.
Yes, that's right. Kwak.
I'd shied away from Kwak because of it's intimidating drinking ritual and the sheer comedy of the name. Yet, today, uninhibited by fear or, indeed, comedy Kwak was ordered.
I didn't realise it's strength. 8.4% marks it out as a reasonably strong beer. It's colour also belies it's scent - rich, dark, malty - and that also sums up the flavour. A dark, Belgian, top-fermented beer, there's no real kick to it which one may expect with a >7% beer.
It's no session beer - it would render you incapable after a few swiftly supped bottles - but it's perfect for a post-dinner drink to cleanse the pallet or to sup quietly to the soft jazz tones of the house band or even for a lazy Sunday afternoon with the papers and sod all else to do. Actually, it would probably go well with fish too.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Grand Slam Sunday

It's not Easter in Sky Sports world. No, it's Grand Slam Sunday, a hopelessly contrived anomaly in a fixture calendar when the top four sides play each other on the same day. If you have seen any Sky channel in the last four months, you can hardly have failed to notice the hopeless hype that precedes this afternoon's 2-0 win for Manchester United over Liverpool and the 1-1 draw between Arsenal and Chelsea.
It's the hype that bothers me and can think of no better way to point it's ridiculousness than this:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New uses for old words

posthumous adj. After eating hummus

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Inventing words

amauteur n A person who thinks their crappy YouTube clip deserves consideration alongside the likes of Fellini, Lynch, Bertolucci, Bergman, Loach, Cronenberg etc etc etc.

mannaries n Man tits.

Pub signs

Pub signs, like pub names, are great. Indeed, I'd gladly support a motion to ban the changing of pub names and signs, albeit with amendments to alter any changed names/signs back to the original and to set up an approval committee for new pubs. There's one in Hull that really got my goat this week. Formerly the Humber Pilot, it not a nice place. The name refers to a fleet of boats that guide others through the treacherous and very busy Humber shipping lanes. It's now not only been renamed The Pilot, which in itself isn't a massive problem, but the sign has been changed from a boat to a pilot, as in aircraft, riding roughshod over any local reference.

Anyway, in Cambridge this afternoon, I spied this sign. The gayest pub sign in Britain (if not the world)? If you know any better, please fill us in (ooh matron).

(you may need to click on the image and enlarge it to see it in it's full homo-erotic glory)