Thursday 24 June 2010


The week has been taken up with football. We have tried to put our own twist on it with our support for the underdogs i.e. those of us who are not wedded to the beautiful game.

Having said that, it was heartening to note people had their own teams that they supported: darts teams, burlesque troupes, people jousting using fork lift trucks and the like. These are the sort of sports that I would pay good money to see.

On Wednesday, the Dark Lady mooted the possibility of us going to watch the England match at the offices of some friends of hers. She knows my aversion to football, even though she is a big fan. Being far cleverer than I, and also knowing blokes, she just threw into the conversation that there would be beer and fish and chips. We were there before you could say "Vuvuzela". When we arrived someone was already blowing theirs. Not been up close to one before and they sound a little like a badly-tuned goat.

Still, everything had been prepared. There were tables groaning with chilled bottles and fish and chips in abundance. There was also a cold collation including Scotch eggs, a particular favourite of mine.

The floor had been covered in fake grass with the appropriate football markings so we watched the game "on the pitch". It was very impressive. Big screens and hooting. It is fairly easy to blend in with proper fans if you bellow the name of the player with the ball; this is easy to do as their names are helpfully written on their shirt backs. Also, if the ball goes anywhere near the opponents’ goal, you shout louder. When a ball is hoofed, however ineffectually (see Rooney below), towards the opponents’ goal you must leap to your feet shouting "YESSS!" Then when (as normal) it fails to go in, cover you heard with your hands slump back in your seat with a loud groan.

If the opposing team is threatening to do the same shout "NOOOO!" then when it fails to be a goal, wave your arms in the air exultantly and cheer. This was going to be the tone for the afternoon.

I discovered early on that it is easily possible to bluff your way in Association Football. All you do is press your mental button marked "TV Commentator football cliche" and it pours out:

"England haven't got the finishing power"

"Scrappy play from England"

"Rooney doesn't seem to have the pace"

"Slovenia are getting desperate"

This seemed to go down well until the DL piped up:

"You are taking the mickey, aren't you?"

Well what was I to say? I was undone.

"Er, the lads head dropped a bit in the second half" I croaked trying to keep up the pretence

Stop it!

"But it’s a game of two halves, Brian"


"He's getting a yellow card"


In truth I enjoyed it mainly for the company and the food.

We had a few hours to kill so we spent some of it trying to sort out my new phone.

At last the replacement handset had arrived of a different type to the one that had been so unreliable and had in turn replaced the nightmare that was the one before that.

Mobiles don't seem to come with instructions these days so it is just a question of guessing. Gradually getting the hang of it, although it is slow work and the touchscreen keypad has a habit of choosing the letter next door: "dp yjsy ,slrd oy b smmpuomg"

TRANS: "So that makes it very annoying"

Plus there is a little ball on the front that glows on and off when a text message has been received. This gives it the appearance of a 1950's Sci-Fi movie.

You know, the one where the asteroid glows in the shallow crater before the alien slime pours out engulfing the necking teenage couple in their convertible Thunderbird out by the bluff. Who only notice something is wrong too late when the radio starts to crackle.

Then it was off to see a particular favourite of ours, Country artist Brad Paisley. I first came across him on American Adventure 1 in 2007 and have been a huge fan ever since.

He's not particularly well known in the UK, a state of affairs I am trying to help rectify by playing him as part of "Lester’s Library" on the show.

It was gratifying to see he had sold out two nights on his first visit here in ten years

He co-writes some brilliantly clever songs which he performed such as "Online", "Ticks" and the title track of his new album, American Saturday Night. He is also a real guitar-slinger and a great showman with a terrific rapport. He was clearly loving it as he walked among the audience during extended solos.

He is an electric performer and the capacity crowd knew most of the songs and so there was a huge sing along and a terrific atmosphere.

With visiting US artists you are always going to detect a varying degree of "it’s really good to be over here in England.....Britain is my second home" sort of stage announcement.

What was funny and perhaps slightly revealing that taped to the stage by his mic stand were two pieces of paper. One obviously the set list. The other had one word written on it. It proclaimed in bold lettering "LONDON"

Probably most touring musicians nightmare to walk out onto the stage in say Boise Idaho and punch the air with your fist and yell…

"Good evening Tehran!"

No mistake here thankfully. There was a little World Cup/London/Fishing in the River Thames type bonding banter, but luckily it was minimal. He indulged in a little "Top hole. pip pip" style chat when he first hit the stage but it didn't grate and was well meaning.

Never understood why Americans still think that we are all bastard sons and daughters of Terry Thomas.

Good to see as well that the audience was mixed with all ages being represented. Giving lie to the received wisdom that Country music fans are all in their 60's and are blue collar workers from Barnsley.

He was fabulous and even better news he intimated that he is coming over again next year for a proper tour. Miss him at your peril.

Lawks. Soon be the weekend Mr Hudson make no mistyke!

Sorry think its catching.

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