Sunday, 29 May 2011

Fighting Talk & Barca.

On Saturday morning I was up with the larks, (if they have larks in Charlton) to head over to Broadcasting House.
We'd arranged to be there before 8:40am but I had an unscheduled Starbucks yearning on the way, so I didn't arrive until around 9:00.

I met Neil, first in the queue as always, then Phil joined us after around 5 minutes.

We were treated to Clive Anderson passing the time of day with us as we waited.
He seemed slightly surprised to hear we were aware of the programme 'Loose Ends' he was going to be a part of.
I noted he seemed remarkably full headed for somebody who has had his baldness commented upon for around 15 years.

Soon Colin Murray turned up but instead of rushing inside, he was happy to hang around on the other side of the street, chatting to mates and necking a few morning sharpeners from a huge coffee he was carrying.

After going through security and hanging around some more, we were finally allowed into the hallowed hall for the series finale of 'Fighting Talk'.
It was billed as the Champion of Champions show.

Defending champ Bob Mills, was pitted against Steve Bunce, Tom Watt and Martin Kelner.

The show isn't usually performed in front of an audience so it was a rare opportunity to see how it is put together.

We couldn't have had better seats.
When we were finally invited inside, the three of us managed to race to the centre of the front row.

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the event won by Tom Watt, (maybe a little controversially).

Bob Mills made everybody laugh off air and Buncie wandered about, handing out flyers for his book while the news and weather were being read out.

                                          Colin Murray.

                                          Bob Mills and Tom Watt.

                                          Steve Bunce and Martin Kelner.

                                          The Sony Award, in the foreground.

After a bit of a wind down, when audience members were prompted to ask the guests their own questions or 'Any Other Business', Bob Mills told a few more jokes and then we were thanked and back onto the West End streets.

We went for a quick drink, then I headed to some of my favourite trainer shops, obviously with the intention of Just Looking but I must admit, my plastic did come out.
I didn't buy these Kopenhagens but they are next on my list.

Next it was Tokyo Diner.
 If I'd known they had a constant live webcam going I'd have waved but I didn't realise until just now. 
The Tokyo Diner way of doing business is no tipping, which takes some of the hassle out of paying.

I had a Bento box which was smaller than I remember having there before, so maybe I'll try something else on their menu next time.

London was completely taken over by fans of FC Barcelona.
There were very small pockets of Manchester United fans, sitting snarling at the locals or doing show off drinking outside pubs but really they were quite hard to find.

Everywhere I went there were huge crowds of happy Barca fans.
They were joyous, colourful and good natured. They seemed to be full of smiles rather than Stella. 
The prospect of any kind of trouble seemed to be highly unlikely.
They were well dressed, well behaved and as far as the travelling women were concerned, well gorgeous.

If the supporters of *Manchester United and Barca had decided to take over London, Barca had it in the bag by around 2pm.

* (There is the point of course, that many of the United supporters were still at home, cutting the grass or taking Tarquin to tennis sessions in Epsom and wouldn't be heading into town until much later.)


After heading home, I spent the rest of the afternoon doing preparation work for the annual reports the parents of the kids in my class will be expecting. 
It always takes such a long time but I like to make sure they are done properly and are most definitely individual rather than just blanket comments that could really be about anybody.

A curry, some beers and then it was me, Adrian Chiles, Manchester United and FC Barcelona for the rest of the evening.


Sometimes finals are a bit of a let down but this year the final of the Champions League will be remembered as a bit of a cracker.

The young Barca star Messi most certainly stepped up to show the viewing public his label of 'Best Player In The World' is not hyperbole.

He is frighteningly good. 
He's only 23 and will probably get even better.

There are some quite tragic haircuts in the Barcelona team, (Puyol anybody?) but that is the only chink I can see in their armour.
They might be 'dodgy' in defence but when they can score almost at will, it doesn't seem to matter that much.

Manchester United are a fantastic club and they are quite rightly the current kings of English football. They can dominate other teams, often without playing particularly well.
Last night they looked very second best and were given a bit of a spanking by Barcelona.

Spain are the Kings of World football, European football and now European club football.

No wonder their supporters looked happy.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Up, Up & Away.

This afternoon, I headed out to Essex to enjoy a sight seeing flight over London.

It was a fantastic treat to view the city I call home from an unusual angle.

What amazes me is how close together everything seems when you're airbourne. 
We headed towards Dartford and joined the river above the bridge.

We flew over North West Kent, towards Greenwich and Docklands. 
Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the plane to get a good shot of the Valley but the Thames Barrier made it easy to spot.
Click on the picture above and you'll see a fairly good view of the Charlton area.

We then headed towards London Bridge and the Shard.
Even the more obvious tourist sights such as St Paul's Cathedral were mesmerising.

London looked beautiful.

The pilot was obviously a North London sports fan as he made a point of circling their football grounds.

The Emirates.
White Hart Lane.
After about 40 minutes we headed back to base.
Even the M25 looked gorgeous from above.

A most enjoyable trip.

It really wasn't easy to take pictures while being buffeted about. 
I tried to keep my photography to a minimum so I could just enjoy the flight, rather than observe it all through my iPhone screen.

I need to give a huge thanks to Sarah for organising the special experience for me.

Thanks babe.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

We're Outta Here!

Charlton Athletic 0 - Hartlepool United 0.

That's it. 
Goodbye season 2010 / 2011.
Done and dusted.

We're now gone for a lovely, refreshing few weeks before we have to start worrying again about events at Floyd Road and Sparrows Lane.

The game today?
Same old same old.

Before Kick Off, I had a quick drink with some of the Charlton twitteratti which was just grand.
 Typically, to put the full stop on the end of a disappointing season, there was another disappointing result once we arrived at the Valley.

It's quite a relief to finally put this season to bed.

BWP could have scored early on when Llera sent through a fantastic ball but he hit the cross bar.
Semedo was booked for being on the receiving end of a foul and in the second half, Bessone struck possibly the best shot I've seen all season, only for a combination of woodwork and 'keepers hand to deny him.
Hartlepool nearly scored the goal we were half expecting when they hit the crossbar. It would have been against the run of play but this season we've got used to just that kind of thing.

I didn't stay for the players to do their lap around the pitch.
I would have been a complete hypocrite if I'd clapped them away for the summer.

As individuals, many have worked hard and shown flashes of skill.

As a team, they have been very, very poor. 
I'm pretty sure there would have been some people who were willing to give them the traditional send off but I wasn't one of them.

The undoubted stars of the show today were the Father Christmas characters and the Oompa Loompas among the Hartlepool support.
They were absolutely fantastic and a credit to themselves and their club.

Well done fellers.

Nearly There.

The fat lady is having her breakfast.

Only a few more hours to wait until she can finally open her great big throat and serenade us into our Summer break.

Charlton fans, it's been a right pig of a season.

Only one more gargantuan effort to drag ourselves to the Valley before we can have a rest from the tribulations and disappointments of Charlton Athletic.

Of course, I'll be back again next season.

Much like Paul McCartney, who is probably sitting at home with his thumbs aloft, a few bad experiences haven't put me off.

Recent seasons have ended on a high, (remember CP scoring?)
Perhaps the rain showers will cease and we'll see a final flourish of goals?

As Curbs used to say in his programme notes, I assume the team will want to "send us home happy".

It won't make one jot of difference and won't paper over the cracks but it might remind a few people to finally fill in their dusty old season ticket applications.