The Owen-ly Way is up

Slightly surreal day. Got to say that Freddie Shepherd has backed the manager and the club here and should be congratulated. the team, man for man, is good now with just the left back position available for improvement. After watching the Man United game on Sunday, it was evident what we lacked and the board have come through here. Along with the signing of Luque and the return of Nobby, its all very encouraging stuff. Looking for a UEFA spot now.

On the Road – Edinburgh

Jason Manford. A name for the future. While he didn’t win the Perrier Comedy Awards, he had the audience laughing consistently as only genuinely funny people can. Reminded me of Peter Kay and there is no higher comedy honour. Manford spoke of normal life, normal tales and we laughed. Speaking of Peter Kay, we also saw Daniel Kitson from Phoenix Nights was also very funny, telling a circular story for an hour and a half. Demetri Martin was alright but Phil Kay and Howard Read were just terrible. I could go on about how bad Phil Kay was, how awkward the silences were.

I went to the shows with Alex and his friends and enjoyed the town a lot. I will fly back to Devon tomorrow and it seems like an age. A lot of thoughts and decisions have been taken. After the next set of travels, I will stay somewhere for a while. A time to sit, kick the beer and study and set the second 5 year plan in motion.

Walking around alone on my last day reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend called Melissa at Uni. She talked about her ex-boyfriend and how she couldn’t remember the good times as the more recent bad times blocked them out. Edinburgh suffered the same fate for a few years but it’s a pretty town, dark, rain-washed buildings, the Royal Mile with its alleys and shops, teeming with bars and young tourists. It’s been a cathartic experience for those in the know. But climbing those Pentland Hills though…..Christ.

On the Road – Dunfermline

I spent three days up in Dunfermline helping Dave and Johnny fix up Dave’s dad’s house for sale. We did a fair amount of painting and clearing away as well as hitting the beers a few times. Being a 27 year old boy and using a power drill for the first time is not the greatest sign for a husband but I enjoyed it. Thanks to Dave and his Dad.

On the Road – Manchester, York, Newcastle

After the wedding I headed through Manchester, York and Newcastle, seeing family and friends and relaxing in the towns. It strikes you as you move as little as 30 miles how different places are; the unique cultures, sporting allegiances, accents and mannerisms. The enduring histories, hardships and triumphs swim in a pride that is felt throughout. The North is truly full pf great cities.

I stayed with Si in Manchester, a great friend and top guy who’s clear, intelligent views and quiet drive in life I have always admired. Si, despite having a quality love of beer, has always been able to focus when necessary, a trait I can’t muster.

York is a pleasant town of narrow streets, river-bound cafes and the striking Cathedral. I stayed with my sister Tash and played with Imogen. She is a very loveable child. Cylde, my brother in law shares my sense of humour. Another viewing of Team America was called for.

Newcastle, the city of my birth and hometown of my Mum’s side of the family is a microcosm like no other. Few other towns in the world feel as alive as Newcastle’s quayside on the weekend. Anyone who has been there tells the same story. The guys like to drink, the girls like to drink and they all have a great time. The noise in the streets is thunderous. Auntie Hazel showed me the sights and I caught up wtith Uncle Steve for Sunday lunch. But not Grandad unfortunately.

Next up…..Scotland

On the Road – Sheffield

The day in the Dales settled us for the night. The cricket was looking good and we got up to watch the next day’s play. But this being Manchester, it rained for the morning. Yup, rain in August. Like fights at a Rooney party. Everytime. So we headed off to an old haunt, a city I spent four years of dizzying highs and mind-crushing lows. Sheffield, my university city, the city I truly first experienced life in.

Straight to the student haunt of Broomhill with its bustling streets, cafes, curry houses, fish n’chips, bars and cars. A few changes here and there but the feeling was the same. Locals mixing with students, the heart and the backbone. We sat down for Liverpool v Middlesborough and then grabbed a kebab but not at Tony’s for fear he would recognise me and ask the same predictable questions he asked between 8 and 4 years ago. We then scouted the hotel and it took a while to find the place. Alex was convinced it was in a far part of Sheffield, places you don’t go to. And it was, though not so far. A taxi was safe bet. The hotel smelled and yeah I chose it. We would have gone to another place had we had time.

But a cab took us to Cutlers Hall and the wedding of Andy and Catherine. Meeting Catherine near the door, I’m not sure if she was bladdered or didn’t recognise me. But Andy was cool, chatty and directed us round. We talked with Mark and some guys who apparently went on the stag do until Shaun arrived with Helen and we spent the night swapping drinks and stories. I’ll post pictures later.

We got out early, the hotel shower and smell over-powering the will to sleep. In Manchester, we watched the great NUFC get the short-end from Steve Bennett again and then Wigan almost upset Chelsea and almost made happy men of the bar.

On the Road – Liverpool

Gathering my limbs and hangover together, I finally sorted myself out, said cheers to Dr Luke who had drank and marvelled at the barmaid with me for the last two days, Dad came and picked me up for the airport. it was the first time I’d been in his Spitfire car for many a year and I hope he doesn’t sell it. Exeter Airport is small, quaint even. Full of kids running, parents smiling as their long-awaited few weeks in the sun of Spain beckons. My plane was a bi-plane. I don’t like that but the view over Devon and Wales, of rolling hills, grey and brown patterned- fields and cliff coastline distracted me.

Alex met me at the airport but not before I witnessed odd family relationship. A young guy pulled over, got out, opened the boot and waited, arms crossed, stone-faced. One guy arrives and without giving any gesture, puts his bag in the back and stands at the other side of the open car, impaasive except for his cigarette. Neither man acknowledge each other but continue waiting. A woman, probably the mother arrived with her bag. After placing it in the back, the first guy hugged her for along while, though without words. Then all got in the car and drove off.

That night we went to the cinema, watched The Island. A crazy film and not great, but what do you expect from Michael Bay? Later we watched Just For Laughs. One guy who’s name I want to know had us rolling. Talking about animals and how evolution affects them. He asked why a slug doesn’t mug a snail to get his house. Clams. Well thanks God, where the hell are my legs? I’ll ust dig my ass in here and wait I guess.

Friday, we headed towards the Lake District but got caught in traffic so cut over to the Yorkshire Dales for a days walking. I love roadtrips, maybe cos I dont drive so just get to watch the world go by and the English countryside is a beautiful green paradise.

Tomorrow is Andy Carlin’s wedding and the start of the football season. Life is moving on and I get to see it.

A martyr to what cause?

Robin Cook MP died on Saturday. (for those who don’t know he was Labour politician who served as Foreign Secretary). Great eulogies have been uttered by those who rivalled with him most; a great debater, great intellect etc. His finest hour was noted to be his Scott report debate with the then-Tory government where he was described as outstanding. Well, that’s good for him but as a national politician I didn’t really notice him and rarely mentioned him. Being a great debater is almost irrelevant these days. In reality, it’s just lawyers arguing with each other while the nation gets on with their lives. Just school boy debating, as the boys try to get the attention of the teacher or be the coolest. Political points scoring they call it.

Cook called for an ethnical foreign policy but which was shallow from the start and near impossible in international politics. Again it is generally just point-scoring. “Look at me! I’m being nice to poor people.” There rarely is a concerted effort without a payback. Sierra Leone is mentioned, a country in strife, where Britain’s motives were positive on the surface but as you delve deeper, little has come from it for the Sierra Leonians.

So while it is sad that a man dies aged 59, the frenzy of nostalgic obituaries by his friends and more importantly the media seem too play up the role of this man in modern British life. The endless comments of “what a loss to the British people”, make me wonder well what did he really achieve in his time alive for all this reverence to come about? Men and particularly cynical men are always trying to create any martyrs to the cause and this seems like a case in point.

Tribute to the London victims

Reading through the stories, what struck me was the countries affected by the tragedy. Italy, Poland, Iran, Austria, Mauritius, Afghanistan, France, Israel, Vietnam, Jamaica, to name a few. And that is just mentioning those who were cut down. The nameless hundreds injured would undoubtedly further reflect London’s diversity. But it truly is a great city in more than numerically ways. Because of its people and cultural vibrancy, London will move on and strive onwards and continue its preeminence in this wide, wide world.

2005 – Summer of Love

Yup that time has arrived for me, not 1969 but 2005. Or is it me getting to that age? I dunno but the beautiful picture to my left is evidence that something is occurring in life. That’s Sera and Yoon, getting married about a month ago. Unfortunately I missed the wedding by a mere 2 days but I wish them the happiness they will undoubtedly have.

Next up Andy Carlin’s wedding in 2 weeks. Me? no way. well, not yet.