Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Snowed Under in June

No, I haven't fallen in to a Rip van Winkle doze after swallowing the England/Ecuador sleeping tablet on Sunday.

It's just that after weeks or rather months wandering through the one kind of freelancer's nightmare where contracts are cancelled and promised projects fail to materialise, I find myself in the other freelancer nightmare where everything comes at the same time.

So right now I am doing an intensive English course, 3 big very urgent translations and from tomorrow a few consecutive nights of gigging... which means even less time and less sleep than usual.

So the soporific, somnambulistic English performances are quite helpful really... thanks lads.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Let's Show Ecuador the Exit Door...

...or not!

Considering I am quietly confident that Hin-ger-lad is going to be the World Champions, I can't help letting certain tremors of apprehension course through my body before today's game.

One thing is that we will have the fourth different formation in four games. I mean these are "kick-de-ball-in-de-middle" footy players... how are they going to handle all these instructions??

I remember Harry Kewell saying in the newspaper that Rafa Benitez, the Liverpool manager, had told him to play on the left, "... and as soon as I get my head round that", said Harry, "I'll be fine!"

What is there for you to get your head round, Harry?? It's dead easy! Just play on the left!

The other thing is that, once again, we should win this easily...and then there is the heat, 30° in Frankfurt today - gad, the heat - ... and then there's the foreign food... and then and then and then...

World Champion excuse makers...!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back to the World Cup

Germany plays Sweden today...just down the road from me - as I sit here frantically translating away at a text about scaffolding and railings (yes, aaaaahhhhhhhh, is correct at this point!!!).

Brilliant sunny weather here in Munich, the Swedes all seemed to get here yesterday getting pissed at all of our beergardens - IKEA had an open day too to welcome them... probably presenting them with free tacky folding football chairs or some such IKEA tat.

The Germans are driving along the street outside my window; their cars bedecked with German flags... never seen so many German flags on the streets since... well, erm... since that thing we are not supposed to mention, actually.

I was down on the Leopold Strasse last Sunday after the Brazil game and you could hardly move there for fans, banners, samba groups, scantily-clad dancers and so on. They were still at it at 1 a.m. when I was coming home from my gig!

God knows what will happen if they win the bloody thing... ah, but we will never know that anyway - cos WE'RE gonna win it!!!

(That's England by the way!)

Friday, June 23, 2006

WARNING! Bad joke alert...

This one just occurred to me this morning. I tried it on my youngest as he was leaving for school and his reaction - rolling eyes and screwing up face - told me it was good!

Me: I say, I say, I say! How does a modern farmer identify his sheep?

You: I don't know! How does a modern farmer identify his sheep?

Me: He uses a baaa code!


Thursday, June 22, 2006

One Year Already

It's a year since my mum died.

At 2:15 in the afternoon June 22nd 2005, as we were sitting inside Cologne Airport waiting for the connecting flight to Liverpool in our mad dash to get back in time, she slipped away.

My body still reacts with surprise whenever I think of it. Maybe it's a kind of visceral amnesia - I know it but I still don't feel it...

How long does it take to get over things like this? And what is that supposed to mean, "things like this"? What other thing is like this?

Hmm...I don't think I can write about this.

If you know what I mean then you will know what I mean and if you don't know what I mean then you won't.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's a Game of 2 Halves

There is a certain undeniable and not inconsiderable element of schizophrenia surrounding the England team in this World Cup... Jekyl and Hyde, yin and yang, Morecombe and Wise...

In the first half last night the players swaggered almost arrogantly around the pitch in Köln as if to say, "pah, think you can play footie, you flaxen-haired degenerate Vikings - we invented this game - watch us and be amazed!"

At half time the players must have metaphorically fallen behind a (large) couch and then reappeared scratching their heads and tousling their hair absent-mindedly before emerging for a 2nd half which was more like...

"Oh I say, that's a corner, isn't it? So, one of those splendid Swedish chappies is going to kick the ball into that squarish bit of the field.. oh, I say, the ball has bounced off his head and gone into that... sort of... netty thing... and my goodness, they certainly seem happy about something, those Swedish fellows... jolly good!"

The schizophrenia also extends to the fans... well, at least to this fan... I basked happily in the smug euphoria of the first half and then suffered and sweated through the doldrums of exasperation in the second.

Even after the game the conversations had a Jekyl&Hyde quality about them,

"Pile of crap this lot, couldn't defend George Washington in an honesty trial..."
"That Cole was good... bloody world class"
"Midfield dynamo? There's more energy in a railway porter's arm..."
"Hargreaves...brilliant...never stopped running..."

How could this bunch of misfits win the World Cup... but then let me hear a chorus of, "Hin-ger-land, Hin-ger-land, HIN-GER-LAND", I am suddenly L'Optimiste...

England: World Champions 2006?? Aye, it has a ring to it...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You Give Me FIFA

Apparently FIFA has told the England team that they must not lose deliberately against Sweden today!!

I love it!!

What happens if Sweden just clobber us! Maybe FIFA should tell the Swedes that THEY should lose deliberately and then everything will be ok!

Meanwhile, what about other teams in this World Cup? So far the Argies are looking good as is Spain...the British newspapers are saying they may have peaked too soon... that's rich too! The unwritten message there is that England, in playing crap so far, has obviously NOT peaked too soon!

Perhaps we should do a deal with FIFA... if we agree not to lose deliberately today they could ask our future opponents not to win deliberately against us... that'll do me!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

De Free Points is De Main Fing...

This should be the new England footy team song. Forget "Football's Coming Home" - that's just too cerebral.

Let me just go away and write it...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hin-ger-land v Trinidad&Tobasco

Only a few hours until England:

i) romp home comfortably against
ii) stutter to a 1-0 victory over
iii) are held to a draw by
iv) lose sensationally to


A couple more years off my life - at this rate I will be dead by next Friday.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Huh..? The Quiz..? Oh, that...Grrrrrrr....

...we woz robbed!

It was all going SO well against 24 year old Vita, a candidate from Ukraine and 14 year old Robert from Germany but living in the US on our webcam/skype quiz show "Global Player".

Robert was falling slowly behind and Vita and I were neck and neck...until THIS question...

"Which German footballer has taken part in 5 World Cups?"

"Hmm...must be Lothar Mattheus..", I thought to myself..

Up came the 4 choices: Schnellinger / Maier / Mattheus / Beckenbauer

"Ha, problem..."

And then I made a big mistake...I started to think. This has always caused me great problems in my life...this propensity for thinking...

"Hmm... a World Cup quiz without a question about Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer... hmmm... could it be? Well, he played in 1966 when he was very young..."

I dithered and then dithered a bit more... finally I clicked on Beckenbauer...

"...and the player is of course...Lothar Mattheus! Oh dear, Phil..."


It's daft but it still irritates me now that I didn't click the answer I knew was correct...argghhhh!!!

So I didn't win....the Brockhaus CD-ROM!!!! The what...?

Could have been worse.

I don't know yet when the show will be broadcast on ZDF but I will post the date as soon as I find out.

It will also be available on a streaming link so all of you around the world will be able watch me meet my Ukrainian nemesis...
(didn't help them much today against Spain - muchos revengeos!!)

Thanks for all the good wishes!!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

There are Flavours I Remember...

It is amazing how a taste can evoke memories... in this case the taste of coffee on the back of my throat as I sit here in front of the computer translating. It conjured up from nowhere my morning routine during the summer of 1976 when I was living in Ioannina in north-west Greece.

The summers in Ioannina are boilingly, blisteringly hot and you have to get up early to get anything done. So I used to get out of bed at about 7 and then slip down to the grocer's and get a cool sheep's milk yoghurt, nip into the bakery next door for a fresh crispy, crusty loaf, go home quickly as the temperatures were already beginning to rise and then make myself a little pot of Greek coffee and have my yoghurt with honey and slices of fresh warm bread to dip in...!!!

Ena paradeisiakó proinó - A heavenly breakfast...

Life's pleasures can be so simple.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Busy Revising...


So, I spent 5 or 6 hours on skype with the technicians from ZDF in Mainz yesterday (Sunday) trying to get the connection to work with audio and visual...until we realised that my PC - which used to be pretty good - is now about as powerful as a butterfly's sneeze. So...what next??

In the end a mate of mine offered to lend me his super-duper laptop for the occasion... thanks Paul - (this is the same Paul who has been fanatically collecting World Cup footy stickers; see: World Cup³) so I drove the 10ks or so over to his to pick up the mean machine and drove back only to find that the mains cable was missing... so back over again to pick that up!! By then it was about 00.30 this morning...Paul's last words were, "oh, by the way... so far no-one has been able to get it to connect to the internet!"

So I sat for a couple of hours trying to get the WLAN connection to work and then I thought, "oh bugger it let's try the Ethernet cable..." - click, clunk...connected!

Got skype installed and the webcam and went to bed as dawn was breaking...up at 7, tried everything out later with the ZDF techies and now I am all set to air my (non-existant) knowledge of World Cup history!

Let's see... 1966... erm...??

Sunday, June 11, 2006


...ok, so maybe I was a bit too critical of the England team's performance yesterday..but it's all part of the fun; moaning about how the team played, slagging off the players and having a laugh... that's how you get your money's worth if you are an England fan!

On a more serious note...I am in a quiz on national TV on Tuesday...HELP!!

They are doing it with webcams and skype - so I went out and bought a headset yesterday for €4.99. I am still trying to work out how to put the bloody thing on! If I put it over my head like normal headphones the ear-pieces don't reach my ears but if I put it round the back of my neck the earphones keep slipping off...and however I put it on the microphone seems to be either up my nose or round the back of my head!

(Any tips gratefully accepted!)

So, apart from not knowing the answers to any of the questions, I am also going to look like a total wally with the headset stuck halfway up the back of my bonce... maybe if I paint a St. George's cross on my beer belly it will divert attention..

Hin-ger-land, Hin-ger..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

England's World Cup campaign starts with a... what's the opposite of 'bang'? A 'non-bang'? A 'non-explosive silent sound'?

How about, "England's World Cup campaign starts with a very slight, almost inaudible, tiny little noise"?

A bloke at the next table to us actually went to sleep in the second half!

We were joking that the lads were suffering from the heat and came back to find that that was exactly the excuse they had used! Becks was quoted as saying, "you have no idea how hot it was out there". Erm, excuse me... but doesn't he play in SPAIN???

Anyway, Sven was "very happy" with the performance having presumably watched a different game and we had to put up with a succession of players who pointed out, "well, we got de free points - 'at's the main fing."


Saturday, June 10, 2006

3 Lions..etc

England's first game (against Paraguay) is approaching and I am getting NERVOUS!!! Crazy isn't it?

It's a beautiful day here in Munich and I have reserved a table in a local beergarden for 10 persons, so we just need the team to do its stuff.

Munich is seething with fans from all over the world... it's incredibly impressive and colourful as they wander through the centre of town in their different strips, waving their flags and singing their songs... different colours, different languages, different cultures... and so far no trouble...

I am keeping to my prediction that England will win the Cup this time round but I might be reviewing that in the next few days!!

Hinger-land, Hinger-land, Hinger-land...

(...and this from a dyed-in-the-wool, devout non-nationalist - stirs up the passions footy does!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

It Has Started At Last...

Finally we have something to sink our teeth into and not rehashed grainy video clips of World Cups from the past.

Germany certainly got stuck in ...then had a little lapse ...then got stuck in again ...then a little lapse... and so on - and as for Poland in the second game of the evening...well, I don't think they actually turned up...

Ecuador looked good... I wonder though how it feels for them to breathe such thickly oxygenated air - do they have problems with it... didn't look as if they did, anyway.

AND, I am going to be on ZDF (Germany's second national TV channel) next Tuesday in some World Cup quiz programme called, "Global Player". There will be 3 candidates from all over the world each sitting at home in front of a webcam answering questions on - guess what..? -"the World Cup". They are sending me a webcam so that I can take part!

I don't think I will be in it for very long as I am the world's worst rememberer of those kind of facts... I will probably get to play against one candidate from Mensa's Football Fact Branch and an alien freshly arrived from the planet FootballTrivialia X33CX55#

Perhaps they will just keep asking me if Geoff Hurst's 2nd goal in the 1966 final was over the line...

You Da Vinci Some, You Da Loosi Some

In the words (or rather exclamation) of Nelson in the Simpsons, "ha..haaa"!

I worked out the password for the second cryptex before Robert Langdon did!!

Huh? What?? Oh, sorry, I have just been speeding through the copy of Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" which Nicky left here and I have just got to the bit where... well, either you know what I mean or you don't...

Meanwhile, it seems there is some football game or other in Munich today... yes, the World Cup is finally upon us here in deepest Bavaria and if I see one more interview with old German footballers who insist the ball wasn't over the line at Wembley in 1966 I will go nuts!!!

I realise my own writing style has become a little cryptic due to reading these infernal thrillers.

At least I have not yet slipped in to iambics...

(... or have I?)

Anyway, beautiful sunny day here in Munich - after weeks and weeks of rain and freezing temperatures. The Germans really know how to sort out the weather for these big events...

Everywhere you look there are displays counting down the minutes and seconds until the big kick off at 6p.m. here today.

Hmm...I seem incapable of stringing together coherent sentences ...I think I will have to go and read the last few pages of this bloody book... perhaps I will just have an apple first though...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Angels and Demons

I have just whizzed through Dan Brown's book in a couple of days and it is not a bad thriller. My daughter left a copy here which she had borrowed from a friend and so I didn't want to take too long reading it.

There is enough blood and gore to satisfy your average reader but not make you think that the author is psychologically unbalanced...there are some standard plot developments, some totally obvious plot developments but still enough twist and turns and red herrings to have me re-evaluating my opinions on certain characters a couple of times and in a normal world would have had me flicking back through the pages to check things. There are also a good few moments when I had to say out loud things like, "Oh come on..." and "...all this in ONE day..." and a few bits which seemed inconsistent but may have been due to skipping over things too quickly.
And there is a good dollop of Roman Art History thrown in...not bad fodder for a long train journey or a flight somewhere.

Plus, credit to the chap, he got me dreaming about the book last night. I don't recall exactly what the dream was but it had the same atmosphere that I felt in the book. That's quite an achievement really when you think about it, that an author has managed to wheedle his story deeply enough in your subconscious to infiltrate the dream department.

Well done Dan Brown.

Last night I picked up the copy of The Da Vinci Code which my daughter had also left here. At first glance it looks like it might be more of the same but this time in Paris instead of Rome...we will see.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another Thousand Years to Wait...

Bugger, I missed it...! I was just writing some bills - one of my least favourite jobs - when I realised I had forgotten to remember...

This morning at 6 minutes past 6 it was officially:


I was awake at that time but failed to recall, in my slumbery waking up delirium, that I wanted to remember.

Don't actually know what I would have done had I remembered...probably a sort of wry, meaningful look out of the window and maybe a knowing nod but I'll never know now anyway.

I remember being impressed in the third year at Junior School with 6th June 1966 which was 6.6.66 and also just after my final exams at university in July 1977; 7.7.77 and so on in August 88 and September 99 but this would have been even more special.

Still, next year there will be:


Well worth waiting for! Will someone please remind me??

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Here Comes That First Million Again...

Posted by PicasaMy blog for English learners

To celebrate Whitsun I am going to do a little shameless advertising! Well, if I don't advertise my stuff who will...? Certainly not AdSense!

Up there is my blog for English learners, English is Easy! which is gradually getting more and more hits and return visits even though I haven't really done anything to promote it yet.

If you are learning English - or indeed if you teach English - you might find it helpful to go and have a look.

The next step will be a website for learners of this wonderful but sometimes ...erm ...rather strangely-put-together language where there will be exercises, games and mp3s to do, play and listen to and more stuff like that. This will gradually attract quadzillions of visitors; advertisers will be begging me to let them have space... and that 1st million will be in the bag!

I have even registered a web address for all this and I was going to put up a temporary sort of marker website when I realised that I just could not remember how to set up a website!!!
I got my first website going years ago ...took me months to do it, too ...and now I come to need to do it again ...I have not the slightest idea how I did it!!
It's a bit embarrassing to have to search the net for tips on how to get your website up and running ..but it's for a good cause... that first million!!