Archive for February, 2008

Kim Jung Mi

If I were to tell you that one of the greatest records ever made came out South Korean psychedelic pop scene in 1973, you’d probably doubt my sanity. And you’d be utterly, utterly wrong.

I don’t know much about Kim Jung Mi. I know she’s backed on this track by fuzz-guitar maestro Shin Jung Hyun and his band The Men, but that’s about it. It’s from an album called Now, and that the track is called The Sun.

All that matters is that it’s like Sweet Jane crossed with Hey Jude crossed with Francois Hardy, and that every second is 24 carat, take-your-breath-away magnificent.

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In Which I Fix English Football

Years ago, when Terry Venables was about to retire as England manager, I offered my services to the F.A., and applied for the job. Rather graciously, they wrote back and turned me down.

More than a decade later, the game is still a mess. They’ve obviously learned nothing. So after the recent Switzerland game, I wrote to the F.A. again.

Dear Brian Barwick,

I went to watch England last night. It was another anxious ninety minutes, deja vu all over again. But I have a theory, and I believe I have the solution.

Collectively, England players have three major problems.

1) They assume they merely have to show up to beat ‘smaller’ teams. Quite where this misplaced sense of superiority comes from I’ve no idea, although I suspect it might have something to do with us once having an Empire.

2) Conversely, they suffer from a crippling fear that this might not be the case; that San Marino can make them look stupid (as they once did) or that ‘minnows’ like Croatia might actually be a much better side (which they are).

3) It’s obviously a psychological issue, which makes things worse, because the last thing the average English footballer – David James aside – wants to consider is that there might be a cerebral aspect to the game. It’s all, blood, thunder and God Save The Queen, innit?

So if we assume that we don’t want to return to the desperate days of Glen Hoddle’s empty-headed quackery (the man is quite clearly a maniac) we’ve got to look for a solution that relies on the few aspects of the English footballer’s psyche that might – with a little prodding – become a positive: the fear of losing their place in the side.

Assumed wisdom in soccer circles – if there is such a thing – suggests that the introduction of a new manager spices things up: with the slate wiped clean, the players who’ve been coasting realise they need to prove themselves again, while those previously excluded are given a second chance. It’s all hands to the pumps.

So here’s my solution: employ a whole series of managers, but restrict their involvement with the national side to two games apiece. In the first game of each series, the players will be fighting for their places in the second. In the second, the players will be desperate to impress the new manager they know is coming in for game number three. As an added bonus, the involvement of managers clearly out of their depth (like Steve McClaren, for instance) will be kept to a minimum.

Please let me know if you’d like to discuss my idea further.

Fraser Lewry
(England fan #55355280)

PS. Did you know that Fabio Capello is an anagram of ‘I, Capable Fool’?

And guess what? No reply.

I pay through the teeth and go to every home game. I eat the ridiculously over-priced food. I put up with the queues. I watch the national side under-performing again and again and again. I suffer.

And when I offer to solve the crisis (for free, mind), they ignore me.

It’s no wonder the sport is going to the dogs.

The Frontline Club

Had a terrific time last night at the member’s room at the Frontline Club, London’s premier watering hole for war correspondents, news cameramen, combat-weary soldiers and Jeremy Paxman. The evening, a food and wine event, was hosted by controversial wine writer Malcolm Gluck, a man whose very appearance, like that of a coal-streaked miner, gives away what he does for a living; the blotchy skin, broken veins and stained teeth marking him out as a serious, serial boozer.

He’s very entertaining, though, introducing the wine that accompanies each course (the food, incidentally, was excellent) with unbridled, loving enthusiasm, using the peculiar vocabulary of the seasoned wine-taster with near-maniacal abandon: one rather lovely red is described as “waxy, like old school desks”, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds – you can actually see what he’s getting at.

We’re asked to provide our own descriptions for each drink, and I attempt to enter the spirit of the occasion (bearing in mind that I can’t generally tell the different between a Chateaunerf de Pape and a carton of Ribena), describing one glass as “like opening a dusty encyclopedia and inhaling the pages” and another as “golden fucking syrup”. Malcolm, rather pleasingly, sees through this straight away, quite rightly mocking my insincerity. There may be something to this wine-tasting malarkey after all.

I was also interviewed by a very nice chap from BBC Radio, alongside a couple of proper food bloggers, Mrs Cook Sister and Mr Spittoon. The latter revealed that he regularly gets sent free food and wine to road-test. I, rather sadly, don’t.

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

I went out boxing on Friday night (to watch, not to take part) with Mrs Ladyshambles, Mrs Shoeboobies and Mr Quality Nonsense. And boy, what a fine time we had – there’s really nothing like brutal hand-to-hand combat to ensure that an evening out goes well.

Although I’m an occasional watcher of TV bouts, I wouldn’t generally claim that one man pummeling his fist into the face of another could provide such absolutely compelling entertainment, but it did, and all the cliches that boxing supporters tend to reel out when the sport is under-fire seem to ring true: that it is a noble pursuit, that its participants do enjoy what they do, and that every precaution is taken to ensure the safety of the boxers (ambulances on standby, doctors in the corners, knocked-out fighters expected to remain on the canvas until the medics allow them to rise, etc.). The atmosphere wasn’t nearly as leery as I thought it was going to be, either – the York Hall full of menacing-looking cockney geezers and brassy birds, but everyone was friendly, and there was no aggression outside the ring.

In the main event, Tony Oakey (who enters the ring to the jaunty strains of The Hokey Cokey) knocked out Peter Haymer in the ninth, bringing a sudden end to the shrieking of Haymer’s poor partner, who stood just to my left. All the way through the bout, she screamed: “USE YOUR BOXING, PETE!” “PISS HIM OFF, PETE!” “JAB, PETE!” “C’MON PETE!

You’d not get me in a boxing ring for any kind of money… and I don’t think it can be much easier standing helpless on the sidelines while a loved one is getting punched either.

Remind me never to marry a lady boxer.