Time Out

Apologies for the time out but both Mrs. Ha and I have been in hospital. Different hospitals, different days. Adds to the spice of life. I had some unfortunate side effects from my AF meds and ended up in the hospital at 2am. Mrs. Ha has a nasty bout of influenza A and is still in The Sanatorium. I have nominally been in charge for about 3 days so not much has been done. It has been a tad stressful. Not to mention that my only attempt at a post has been irretrievably lost by WP. Gone, and never called me mother.

The only image I could think of to go with doctor and patients has to be……


Nurse…………. the screens! Its amazing what you see at the Hong Kong 7s. She seems to have collected rather a lot of stethoscopes. I knew I should have gone to med school.


Your cut out and keep guide to the World Cup Final

My allegiance this morning was clear. Argentina has never been popular outside its own borders. True it has a large Welsh contingent in Patagonia but nowadays they are mainly sheep. Argentina is still reviled all over England for its disgraceful behaviour in the 1966 quarter-final and Madonna’s hand of god in 1986.  There is also the small matter of Las Malvinas and despite their claims to this plucky little outpost of the British Empire they have never once to my knowledge picked a Falklander for their starting XI. The nearest they might have got was in the 60s when Marcia, Lady F was on the subs bench.

Germany on the other hand was my home for 5 years and has long been a peace-loving nation. Every family has its black sheep. Germany’s worst trait is that of being a bad loser. They still whinge about Geoff Hurst and maintain that Monty was offside at El Alamein. Luckily for them (and us) they do not lose very often. The commentator on our transmission this morning quipped that soccer is a game played between 2 teams over 90 minutes, at the end of which, Germany wins.

Germany also has a more cultured background, effortlessly combining music and soccer. The Bach family was so enthusiastic that it produced enough offspring for an entire team. Johann Sebastian was an accomplished goalkeeper and his son by Barbara Bach (long before she married Ringo Starr), Carl Philipp Emanuel, was a libero in the Beckenbauer mode. Many of them played for Brandenburg F.C. (Fußball Concerti).

This morning’s game was entertaining and played in good spirit. At half time Germany were up by 2 yellow cards to nil but Argentina made a decent comeback in the second half. There were very few chances in the first 90 minutes, the best being squandered by Gonzo Higuain, a right muppet. Argentina also had the worst fashion statement with a little chap called Agüero wearing odd boots. Either that or he was so nervous in the dressing room that he simply ended up wearing someone else’s boot on one foot.

The goal when it came was a moment of true Zauberei. Schiller crossed and Goethe chested it down before sweeping the ball across Romero into the corner. His account of that moment is rumoured to be in the pipeline under the title Die Leiden des jungen Messi.

That sealed the match for the Germans but in reality the mind games were won in the stands. Super-coach Merkel was there to cheer on her boys but I saw no trace of Frau Kirchner. I suspect the budget wouldn’t stretch. Perhaps a one way ticket, coach class, may have been possible. And if Argentina had won they may well have had to pawn the cup to pay off the vulture funds to which they owe so much. Jules Rimet would not have liked that.

When all is said and done its only a game and as Kant said, you’ve just got to be philosophical. If I had to vote for my Man of the Match  it would probably be Bastian Wittgensteinschweiger. You can’t keep a good man down although the Argentinians tried hard enough. Or perhaps that tower of strength, Paul Boateng.

In four years time the finals may be played in Russia. It depends whether Vlad the Impaler behaves himself in the meantime. Otherwise it may be back to Brazil, by which time the stadia may well be finished for real. The balsa wood and bits of string lasted remarkably well all things considered. I watched very carefully when the Germans did the traditional victory bounce. I was fearful that the podium would collapse and and entire world cup winning team would disappear into a black hole. If it were to do so I suspect they would find it full of Brazilians, Fred and Scolari at the bottom of the heap.

I was going to post a HD timelapse yesterday but sadly each time I uploaded the sequence to You Tube it played back at the lowest possible quality. I have no idea why it is doing it and frankly I’m not sure you would be as enthralled with the ‘dancing kayaks’ as I was. For me it is about getting the techy stuff right first and I will worry about the aesthetics later. And on that note, I abandon the soccer commentary for another 4 years and hope young Goethe enjoys his moment in the sun. See you in Siberia.




In Memoriam

Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that. (Bill Shankly)

This I suspect is the overwhelming feeling in Brazil today. A performance almost on a par with Barnestoneworth United. (Eight One – Eight bloody One! – And even that were an own goal!) Brazil sadly lacked a Golden Gordon and were more Right Said Fred in a Bernard Cribbins sort of way.

The WC (down which Brazil were well and truly flushed) is a nightmare to watch in Hong Kong. You need to pay vast amounts of money to a bunch of licensed bandits called PCCW and have the resilience to stay up all night to watch in the hope that something interesting will happen. Most matches simply lack bite. Not enough to get your teeth into. So Mrs. Ha and I refused to stand and deliver and instead waited for last night. For it was the first free to air transmission. Starting at 4am. At 03.58 on the dot, the alarm went off, the TV went on and the doughnuts were unpacked. It started brightly enough.

Why didn’t they stop him kicking the goal? A fair question from Mrs. Ha as it went to 1-0. I had no rational explanation to offer. After 25 minutes Mrs. Ha asked another legitimate question. Are you sure Germany are not in the yellow shirts? Yes, I replied. The ones crying are the Brazilians. I thought Brazil were supposed to win, said Mrs. Ha. I was struggling to argue with that.

As goal number 7 went in an unpleasant thought struck me. I saw in my mind a headline from the Bild Zeitung [?] in April 1978. Es riecht nach Geld. (Literally: It smells of money). I had been in the Rheinstadion the previous afternoon and watched Borussia Dortmund lose 12-0 against Borussia Mönchengladbach. At the final whistle I banished that image and momentary thought. The humiliation was plain to see. Scolari was magnanimous in defeat, a true gentleman. Events such as these make or break a man. Scolari’s footballing genius may be tarnished but not his honour, I venture to say. Some of the younger players may be damaged beyond repair. It was sad to see small children crying, adults gasping for air, their joy draining away as their disbelief rose with the each ratcheting up of the footballing disaster. The tectonic plates in the Estádio Mineirão, Belo Horizonte, had not so much shifted as rocked violently. The foundations of Brazilian football were subsiding faster than Rolf Harris’ record sales.

And so I reflect on Bill Shankly’s famous quote. Is it ‘just a game’ or is it more important than a matter of life and death? I suspect deep down Shanks was simply a great motivator. He wanted to win above all else. The difference today lies in the money. Soccer is big business. So important it has joined the ranks of the sports bedevilled with corruption. Success brings you everything. Failure reduces you to the bottom of the 4th column of the 3rd-from-the-back page. My club is facing a winding-up order. It may not exist soon. That’s pressure. Back on the dole for some of the players. I doubt if the players who lost 7-1 will be in the dole queue on Monday. If they are resilient the younger ones have plenty of time to redeem themselves. Some of us may not live long enough to see Brazil win another WC but maybe they will bounce back in 4 years time. This may be a colonic irrigation of a defeat, flushing out all the excesses that have masqueraded as talent.

Germany may or may not go on to win the final. Brazil has to play for its self-respect in the 3rd and 4th place decider. It will be character building. And probably there will be no Fred.

I finish with another Bill Shankly anecdote:

Of course I didn’t take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present. It was her birthday and would I have got married during the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.

and a prediction for tonight’s game, which Mrs. Ha and I will watch. Argentina 1- Holland 8. Don’t miss it.