Wednesday, June 27, 2012

All around my hat I will wear the green willow (Steeleye Span)

I will wear the green willow for England - until the next knock out football competition, that is. Which will be 2014's World Cup in Brazil. Who would bet against England making another exit on penalties after a dull scoreless draw??

Tomorrow we get into the semi finals of UEFA's Euro 2012 competition. The way too arrogant Ronaldo vs Spain is first up and then the next day the Germans will take Italy apart and show how woeful England's campaign really was.

Why were the premier league stars like Rooney and Ashley Young so inept? They had great seasons for Manchester United but for some reason they were damp squids when playing for England.

Anyway - Spain vs Germany for the final and the Germans to win.

Sometimes I think my life is the stuff that happens to me in between football competitions.

Since 1974 I can tick off where and what I was doing during the World Cups and to a lesser extent, the Euro competitions since 2000.

That first one in 1974 was in Germany and the Germans won thanks to Gerd Muller.

I was a student at Mt Albert Grammar, playing football and, at the time of the world cup, I was billoting some guy from a team we were hosting. I don't recall that we had live TV coverage but I do remember us listening to the commentary on this guy's radio.

It wasn't Gerd Muller who impressed me in 1974 - instead this was the era of Holland's total football and Johan Cruyff. The romance of total football won me over big time. Then they lost and that just seemed to add to the romance. The pragmatic, disciplined Germans had beaten the free for all spirit of the Dutch.

1978 and I was watching the World Cup in Argentina from the family home at Ramelton Rd., Auckland, in colour.

1982 in Spain was memorable because I was staying with a Scottish family in Hastings while on a teaching section to Havelock North High School. Nu Zild, of course were in the finals for the first time and had to play Scotland  and Brazil in their group. It was freezing (their place was opposite the Freezing Works in Hastings which I thought was really appropriate). This was the year of Zico, Falcao and Socrates which I've written about in the blog before.

1986 in Mexico was Argentina's year. I was teaching at Macleans College and fully into the mullet years.

1990 was played in Italy (Germany won again) and 1994 in USA was Brazil's year again. During these ones I was teaching in Nelson.

1998 was France's turn to host and win. Amazing given the state of French football these days. The family had moved back to Auckland and we were living in the boarding school at Mt Albert Grammar.

UEFA's Euro 2000 champs were held in Belgium/Holland and won by France. This was the first time the Euros entered my consciousness really. I don't recall where or what I was doing with Euros before this one but I distinctly remember watching Sylvain Wiltord scoring to equalise and David Trezeguet scoring the winner in extra time. 

2002 in South korea and Japan was won by Brazil again and we had moved to Cambridge. This is the last World Cup that I've watched and followed from Nu Zild.

Euro 2004 was, of course, the year unfancied Greece went on to win.

2006 was the reverse of 1990. The finals were played in Germany and Italy won. We were watching from the UK and we went to Italy on holiday shortly after the win. An amazing good time feeling in Rome; it was summer and Italy team shirts, images of Cannavaro and flags were everywhere.

2008 and Euro was finally won by Spain - the perrenial underachievers of world football. I was in Stratford, NZ.

2010 in South Africa and Spain finally realised their potential in a World Cup as well. SWMBO and I had to go to great lengths to watch the finals from Qatar. We managed to buy a package from Al Jazeera Sport in Villagio Mall - the one that had the tragic fire in it recently.  

2012 Euro in Poland and The Ukraine. We're in Otane and so far it's been business as usual - Germany strong and never should be discounted, England flatter and then deceive etc etc. 

2014 will be in Brazil but I have no idea where we'll be to watch it. Look for a major announcement in the next post about the near future prospects for SWMBO and your correspondent in the blogosphere.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, June 23, 2012

When we come to the place where the road and the sky collide (Jackson Browne)

In which SWMBO and Wozza Wozza go for a looksee to Pekapeka.

Pekapeka is a wetlands area on the way to Hastings from our place. More specifically - 'Pekapeka  is one of the few remaining large, inland wetlands in Hawke’s Bay and is being restored to enhance its capacity to regulate flood waters and to increase the natural biodiversity that resides in and around the wetland'.

The restoration includes some pathways over the wetlands, and each time we drive to Hastings SWMBO says, "We must go there one day".

And so yesterday we did.

It was a beautiful, still Hawke's Bay winter day - a bit of nippiness in the air but the sun made things very pleasant. When we pulled up in the flash car park we were the only visitors, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Love and peace - Wozza

Waiting here for everyman (Jackson Browne)

I have a little time on my hands at the moment, being in between jobs, and the time seemed right to embark on another Edward Rutherfurd epic.

I've had a copy of Sarum on the bookshelf for ages, ever since I finished London.

He writes beasts - Sarum is well over 1,300 pages, and if I don't read it quickly I will get really lost with all the characters and plots. So - knowing I'd have time to keep at it I reclaimed it from the storage box in the shed and settled in for the long haul.

Sarum is set in the area around Salisbury - hence the picture of Stonehenge on the cover.

Sarum (in the blurb) is a 'saga sweeping across millennia of settlement'.
Hwll the hunter, fleeing the rising seas at the end of the last Ice Age, finds refuge on Sarum's high ground. Nooma the stone mason builds Stonehenge for the astronomer priests and witnesses a human sacrifice; thirty-two centuries (yes - CENTURIES) later, his descendant Oswald Mason builds Salisbury cathedral with its soaring spire, and falls into each of the seven deadly sins. Roman roads, the Celtic hillfort of Old Sarum, a Saxon convent, a Norman castle, a medieval market town, a Tudor country house, Georgian townhouses, Victorian cottages - all appear and live on in perpetuity in Sarum's echoing landscape.
Saga is right.
So far, so good. I've just passed the 800 page mark and we're up to the Black Death days of the late 14th century. Pretty grim, as Karl Pilkington would say.

Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You never know what you got 'til it's gone (Mike and the Mechanics)

I guess show biz deaths are evenly spaced throughout the year but it seems that we've had an unusually large number of them recently.

Since the hysteria over Whitney Houston (in February) we've had a steady stream in the last four months.

These are the big and bigger names:

Davy Jones - Hey hey he was a daydream believer.
Ronnie Montrose - guitarist in his own band that also contained Sammy Hagar.
Donald 'Duck' Dunn - Memphis Giant genius bassist.
Earl Scruggs - the great banjoist who with Lester Flatt was a titan of the bluegrass world. I can recite the lyrics to The Ballad Of Jed Clampett off by heart.
Jim Marshall - made great amps that delivered the music of Hendrix et al.
Dick Clark - Mr American Bandstand. He seemed, like Cliff and Macca to have drunk from the fountain of youth but no one lasts forever - well maybe Macca will.
Aussie Greg Ham from Men At Work who had a string of MTV hits in the 1980s.
The grizzled Levon Helm from The Band. He always appeared older than his coBanders. A great voice, a great singing drummer (the greatest?) and a great character.
Adam Youch from the Beastie Boys.
Donna Summer - she worked hard for the money.
Robin Gibb - another member of the giant selling Beatle wannabe Bee Gees.
Doc Watson - another bluegrass titan.
Richard Dawson - people of my generation remember him best as the spivy pom in Hogan's Heroes.
Ray Bradbury - the sci fi writer who gave us Fahrenheit 451 among other works.
Bob Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac and had the huge solo hit Ebony Eyes.
Doug Dillard - country rocker
Rodney King was a celebrity, I guess, for getting beaten to a pulp by crazed LAPD officers who were then exonerated by an all white jury. This, of course led to massive riots. What a bizarre world we live in at times.

Quite a list.

I turned on the news this morning before SWMBO went to work and learned that Victor Spinetti had recently passed away (June 18).

Victor (or as Paul McCartney called him - Mr Spinetti) was born in Wales to an Italian father and a Welsh mother. He is famous for his memorable appearances in three Beatle films - A Hard Day's Night, Help and Magical Mystery Tour.

It is his turn as Professor Foot in Help that I love the most. Not many days go by that I don't use one of his best lines from that film.

He's an idiot. Degree in woodwork. I ask you!
Go to the 4min20 mark for the scene in question.

His appearance in the Mike and the Mechanics video for All I Need Is A Miracle as the nasty club owner is also quite special. Note also that another Help alumni, Roy Kinnear, appears in this as well.

Thank you Mr Spinetti.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Who knows where fate comes from? (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

It happens every four years and it's happening right now. Euro 2012 is in the preliminary pool stage before all hell breaks loose with the sudden death quarter finals.

There's all the usual script components: a group of death (Denmark, Germany, Holland, Portugal); England playing in a laboured fashion and blaming the heat; Rooney is suspended (he misses the first two group games); great goals (this morning's equaliser by Poland was sublime); camera shots of beautiful foreign women (never see that in the premier league coverage) and fat blokes with their kit off and painted up in the national colours; tears and joy. All human drama is trotted out basically.

I wanted to focus on one special moment at this stage.

If you look really carefully at the Gomez goal... will see that it is down to a split second of chance. As the ball is crossed into the box it takes a wicked deflection off a Portuguese defender and loops up perfectly to meet Gomez' head. Without the deflection? Harmlessly headed away by another defender and the game turns in another direction.

This is why I love sport so much. At any given moment in time anything can happen. The possibilities are endless. Gomez was fated to score (he was also about to be replaced by the coach - if he had been substituted a minute before, Germany may not have scored. Gomez stayed on side and moved into a promising attacking position).

Who's going to win Euro 2012? At the moment any of the 16 teams still have a shot. Should be a great few weeks of viewing.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just sing a song and bring the sunny weather, happy trails to you, 'till we meet again (Dale Evans)

Another Queen's Birthday weekend has just passed us by - a big happy birthday Liz!

We had great weather and a visit from Adam and Ashley to further brighten up the occasion.

Adam (a.k.a. Bambino) and Ashley are off to Japan in August so it was great to spend some time with them both. Luckily they are only an hour away from each other in cities close to Kobe and Osaka.

While they were here they bravely went for a ride in the bull arena with SWMBO; not on bulls but on Meg. Ashley had never been on a horse and did well to stay on Meg who is so round that the saddle slips under her if the rider isn't careful. Adam has been on a horse before - when he was about 7 or 8.

SWMBO tried gamely to interest all of the chuldrun in horse riding and so they all had lessons at various times when they were nippers. Only DLG (a.k.a. Jade) managed to stick though.

Anyway - it was a beautiful start of winter on Saturday down at our place so we all headed to the bull arena on our neighbour's property for a ride.

The neighbour's bull arena, our place is on the hill, top left.

Ashley bonds with Meg

It was thirsty work for Waffles

Love and peace - Wozza