Monday, 30 July 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth.

Last night we went to see the Gymnastics at the O2, (AKA North Greenwich Arena as O2 aren't one of the Olympic 'family' of sponsors.)

All I can say is it was a joy from beginning to end.

Living just around the corner, the subject of transport hadn't really been much of an issue.
However, we were most impressed with the free service offered direct to North Greenwich from outside Charlton station.

We had planned to catch the 161 bus from Woolwich Road but once we'd spotted there's a non stop Olympic shuttle to North Greenwich, we jumped on that instead.

My top tip to anyone who lives locally and needs to travel via North Greenwich, even if you aren't going to an Olympic event, is to use the shuttle as it's speedier than the regular buses and you don't have to use up any credit on your Oyster card.

The buses, all decked out in just the right shade of Olympic pink must have cost a fortune. We counted a fleet of at least 8.

Once through the airport style security, we ambled about, dodging the crowds and watched people spend a fortune on Olympic tat that is for sale without queuing, and much cheaper, in all our High Street supermarkets and Sports shops.

Something has happened to London.
People are smiling and wishing each other good cheer.

All the greeters, helpers, security personnel, TFL workers and food outlet staff are currently trying to out do each other over who can be the most amiable.
The crowds are good natured and very, very different to my usual football experiences.
I like it.

I'm not someone who knows much about gymnastics so I really appreciated all the films shown on the big screen, explaining what to look out for and how the scoring works.

I was amazed at the little rubber people and what they can do with their bodies.
I came away a big fan of Romanian Catalina Ponor.
At the age of 24 she's quite 'mature' for a gymnast but her work on the beam was incredible.

London knows how to put on a show and last night was no exception.

It's basketball for us tonight, over on the 'other' side of the river.
I've certainly caught the Olympic bug.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

All Hail the Sideburns

Well done to Bradley Wiggins, who made it a British 1 & 2 at the Tour de France, (with Chris Froome coming second), just a few minutes ago.

The icing on the cake was Mark Cavendish winning the sprint on the Champs Élysées.
Team Sky have shown the world the Brits are now kings of the road.
I'd imagine the Wiggins Fred Perry collection will be selling out very quickly.

Name Change

Here's the thing.
The blog title I came up with when I started writing a few years ago was made in haste.

It was a tongue in cheek reference to my eighties sportswear fixation, retro Adidas and Puma trainer collection and most certainly my rather lackadaisical attitude to life in general.
(One of my proudest moments as a pupil at a mid 1980's comprehensive school was being reprimanded, in front of the whole class, by an RE teacher for being "too casual").

I'm still the same person now as I was then, though of course as I'm currently working as a teacher, the (Gazelle) is on the other foot.

What I've never professed to be is a 'Football Casual' of the "Have you met my mate Stanley?" variety.

I loved the clothes, the attitude and the one upmanship but the violence and knobheadness left me cold.

I'd argue that everyone has their right to free speech and their own political views.

Unfortunately, the term 'Casual' has recently become connected to the EDL, Casuals United and the kind of Right wing thought I find abhorent.
Those people have their views and I have mine.

I'd defend all day their right to say what they believe, it's just I don't want anyone to mistake their views for mine.

What really nudged me into making a change was Charlton making it back to the Championship.
Suddenly, I was receiving messages in my comments box from keyboard warriors who fancied a ruck. (Luckily I have the option to read them before publication).

I wonder how many of the teenage spottys realised they were offering out a middle aged primary school teacher?
(No doubt they'd be sat at home wearing a badly made copy of a Stone Island jumper, bought off the market).

Those people who thought I'd be bringing a firm to away days up North would have been very disappointed when they met the crowd from the RoD, who might try to buy them a pint and have a laugh rather than a dust up in a car park.

So, it's goodbye Charlton Casual and hello Charlton Casualty, though I'll still be found at the same ChartonCasual.blogspot address, as I'm too, (ahem), 'casual' to change it.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The Olympic Flame

Standing outside, before 7:45am on the first day of my Summer break?

It seemed a very unlikely prospect until I perused the route and timings of the Olympic flame through London.

Today, the flame started its journey in Greenwich.
I had thought briefly about standing near the Cutty Sark but those extra minutes in bed meant it was always going to be the very nearest point to home for me.

I forget the exact numbers but apparently around 90% of the UK population have come within an hour and a half of being inspired by the Olympic flame.

I stood with what seemed like 90% of the people who live around Westcombe Hill, though many were leaving it to the very last minute before popping outside in their PJ's and slippers.

I'd have thought there couldn't possibly be anything more 'pure' than the Olympic flame.
Unfortunately, todays world means even a simple flame has to be surrounded by ridiculous amounts of flannel and sponsorship.

We were treated to floats, filled with wholesome looking young people attempting to whip us into a frenzy of excitement while plastered in the logos of Samsung, Lloyds Bank and Coca Cola. The companies certainly had their Moment to Shine.

One particular 'wholesome' had obviously spent a little too long waiting for the orange to dry on her legs. She seemed fairly carefree though as she scampered to catch up with her friends.

The predicted time of arrival came and went and then suddenly, there was a ripple of applause that quickly turned into cheers and whistles.

A few blinks and it was all over, the flame was now heading further up the hill.
Our innate ability to poke fun at any event, no matter how seriously we all pretend to take it was highlighted when maybe the biggest cheer of the morning was for the 108 to Lewisham, (following just seconds behind the flame).
The driver waved and smiled while everybody clapped him.

I'm glad I stepped out this morning.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey

Welling 0 - Charlton Athletic 4.
I haven't taken to writing 'erotic' fiction.
When I woke up yesterday morning, the tingle I was feeling was all down to the start of a new season.
The weather however was appalling.
The sky was, without any doubt, 'fifty shades of grey'.

All over the South East, there were people eating their breakfast after announcing Noddy Holder style,
"It's FOOTBALL!!!"

This completely meaningless yet traditional fixture is always one to look forward to.
It's a chance to have a look at any new signings & see how hard (or not) the players we already know have hit the pies over the summer. It's also an opportunity to catch up with the faces who have been missing from our lives since the last game of the previous season.

The score, as always in pre season friendlies was not important.
Having said that, it was nice to see 4 goals scored, even if the opener was a howler of a slice making the first goal credited to Charlton in season 2012 -13 is an OG.
The rather tubby Welling 'keeper made a couple of good stops to keep the score fairly respectable when Charlton threatened to run away with it in the second half.

The 40 days and nights of rain we have been experiencing meant there was never any chance I'd be on the terraces.
We chose seats in the older stand and were chuffed to discover they were practically in with the Directors.
After all the discussions surrounding Peter Varney's departure from 'upstairs', it was pleasing to see him sitting next to 'Keefy' Peacock.
He's obviously still a fan, regardless of what's gone on.

Sitting so near to the Directors and players meant we were able to see Ben Hamer showing scant interest in what was happening on the pitch.
He may have looked up from his iPad but not while I was checking!
Hamer clears another level of Donkey Kong.
We were spared the usual game of 'Who He?' due to glancing over the shoulder of the bloke in front who had scored a team sheet.

So, here we all are again then.
What will the new season bring?

No doubt the RoD crowd will tear up the Championship, waving the Pirate flag and making friends wherever there are like minded folk.

It's a blank canvas and at this stage, it's all to play for.

One thing is certain, Chris Powell is still Daddy Cool and we are lucky to have him.

Here's to a successful campaign.
Enjoy the ride everyone.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Sound and Vision.

Firstly, yes, I haven't written on here for over a month.

I've been especially busy at work and I made a conscious decision not to blog about Euro 2012.
I have no inside links to what's going on behind the scenes at Charlton Athletic, so anything I'd have written would have just been hearsay passed through the mill of rumour and fantasy anyway.

I may have stroked the cat that once walked through the garden of Chris Powell's postman but you're not going to hear about it.
I know nothing.
I do enjoy writing about Charlton games and away days but there are many people far better than me at collecting titbits and broadcasting them.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my Charlton Casual hiatus.

In truth, I've not felt the need to write anything. Maybe my mojo has gone?

Yesterday, two things happened.
Firstly, I paid for my ticket to see the traditional season opening friendly at Welling and secondly, I was having a bit of a fiddle with my iPhone.

While scrolling through the music on my iPhone, I found myself getting rather annoyed that there are a handful of tunes without the cover art.

It got me thinking about how unimportant album covers are now in the age of the the digital download.
To me, and others of my generation, the 33 rpm LP was something to be held and admired. The experience was diminished slightly once I started buying my music on CD but those pictures were still important to me.

I decided to make a list of my favourite album covers.

Simple rules.
a)I must own the album on LP or CD format.
b)The music hidden underneath is unimportant, (though of course, there aren't many albums I own where I would become fond of the cover, without at least feeling a little warm towards the music).

This is in no way a definitive list of my favourite music.
It's more of a list that arrived after a Kerouac style stream of consciousness scribble.
The order is also unimportant.
I know I've missed out on some I'd certainly have remembered and included on another day but here goes.

1. Ramones - Ramones.
This is most certainly a 'classic' of the genre. Even the uncoolest and ugliest person in the world manages to look fantastic if they're pictured against a brick wall, in black and white.
The picture is a gem and the music is just perfection.
If you don't own this you have let yourself and your family down!!!
2. Blur - Parklife.
This cover will always remind me of a period in the early to mid 90's when for a short time, it actually felt good to be a young bloke.
Loaded magazine was letting us know it was fine to like girls and beer and 'Lads' were apparently a new invention.
Blur made a cracking album with a cover photograph that became a classic, very quickly.
3. Stone Roses
Yes, they made two albums and there are a few 'best of' compilations kicking about but *everyone* knows this is the only one that counts.
I love the Jackson Pollock style spattering on the cover and the (possibly made up) story of the French students using slices of lemon to weaken the effects of the tear gas in May 1968 that inspired the image. A tricolore next to the citrus fruit probably seemed a good idea to band guitarist and artist John Squire.
It seems like genius today.

4. The Clash - London Calling.
I had a poster of this image on my wall for about 3 years in my early 20's. I still love the picture today with it's graphics stolen from an Elvis record and the out of focus snap of Paul Simonon smashing his bass.
Nothing more to add.

5. Beastie Boys- Check Your Head
Without realising it at the time, this album cover altered the way I dressed. (I already owned a few pairs of Adidas Campus) so that didn't change but the 'hat thing' probably started around 1992. 
I own more trainers than is healthy. I also have enough beanie hats to service a ski resort.

6. Ride - Going Blank Again.
Even if I didn't like the music of this band, I'd still feel they deserve a round of applause for sending this picture out into the world. I know nothing about it, or who painted it, but it seems to me like it's probably a small part of a larger piece. I like it regardless.

7. Nirvana - Nevermind.
A surprisingly peaceful image to go with a mostly loud album. The kid in the picture probably has his own kids by now.
8. Cast - All Change
I like this album cover as it just looks so natural. How many of us haven't climbed on the lions or the empty plinths in Trafalgar Square? 
This bunch of Scouse chancers took their moment while looking extremely, (I have to say it), 'Casual'.
9. Wedding Present - George Best
Music and football. 
Not always the best of friends, (think of 'Diamond Lights' by Hoddle & Waddle). 
Luckily, George had nothing to do with the music. David Gedge and his band named the album in tribute.

10. Blondie - Parallel Lines
The first album I owned, (though I had to share it with my sister as it had been bought for us by Auntie Mary). It was a bold choice by us to decide on it and one I've become proud of in the intervening years.
A great picture of a cracking blonde with everyman blokes.

11. Dexy's Midnight Runners - Searching For The Young Soul Rebels.
Geno was my first single. It's on this album though I bought it many years afterwards. 
The picture has always intrigued me. Leaving or arriving? Escaping maybe?

12. The Beat - Can't Stop it.
The only bad thing I can say about this is I have it in two versions. 
A good version and a bad. 
While staying in the USA I wanted to buy a copy and found out over there, they are the 'English Beat'. 
The American version of this cover is poorer for the hastily added word.

13. Bob Marley and the Wailers - Live at Lyceum.
An 'action' shot. Nothing wrong with this at all.

Nobody ever stops at 13 so that's what I'm doing.
I repeat, this isn't a list of my favourite music, this is just my favourite album covers.
Having said that, if I was forced to listen to these albums and no others for the rest of the month I wouldn't complain.

So, what's on your list?