Sunday 5th March 2006

As you must now expect with my rock and roll lifestyle, my weekend was packed (even before the amp installation, quickly squeezed in on Friday evening). Now I am struggling to find a beginning, middle and end to this entry. Starting from Saturday would be the logical option, but here on Sunday evening, approaching 10pm, it feels an age ago. I had to go into town, there was nothing I could do to avoid it. Construction is in full swing and the structure for our new shopping mall is now clearly visible on what used to be my weekend car parking spot. However, my new tactic is to park to the East of the town centre away from all the congestion, diversions and Saturday shoppers (with family in tow). The first part of my mission was to get a haircut, but my usual barbers were extremely busy, so I opted to walk around the corner and go to another salon. It was my first time at this Italian family own establishment and after a wait of around fifteen to twenty minutes, I was served. Originally the hairdresser thought my hair was short enough of ready and didn’t really need it cut any further. I explained what I needed and he agreed to give me a trim. Boy that was hard work. In any case, I had to get it cut this weekend, next weekend I would not have the time, and with a client visit taking place on Wednesday, I thought it best to be as smart and as presentable as possible. Next job, head into town and amid the building sight pick up some bits and pieces. Then back home.

I left home around 10.30am, giving myself just under an hour and a half to get these jobs done and get back in to watch Football Focus. Some may regard it as peasant television, which might be understandable considering I have a plethora of choice via Sky Digital. I try to catch the programme every week if I can. Just what you need before the afternoon Premiership games. The next job was to take some rubbish down to the tip, or should I say now newly converted recycling centre. The most noteworthy object that was going to a better home, or perhaps heaven in the sky was my old MESH PC. Although, it was more now just a case with a few cables and an odd defunct PCI card inside. Looking back that machine gave me some great service over six years and I did try my best to upgrade it as much as I could. It was a sad moment to see it go, but nevertheless, these things must pass, nothing lasts forever. Then I went home to prepare for the big job. Clean the cars. After a quick bite to eat, I headed out to the sunny but bitterly cold afternoon.

My car gets cleaned at least every other weekend, but the family 307, unfortunately, does not get the same loving attention. It was in a mess and I dedicated most of the afternoon to get it clean and shiny. While tackling the grime inside, I listened to the radio, firstly Five Live but as they were not covering the Fulham game live, I switched over to crisp clear BBC London on FM. Arsenal was just swinging into the upper gears when I had to get the hoover out and start doing some heavy-duty labour. As I made some progress, I would stop and switch the radio back on to check the score. We were one up, then two. Then I realised it was getting late and I needed to at least hoover my own car, so had to get a move on. I finished up, moved the cars around, went down the road to get the Peugeot washed, check the tyre pressures before heading back home. Then, as the clock ticked past 5pm, I had just about cleaned the interior of my own car, but it was badly in need of a wash and I knew that it was unlikely to happen this weekend. Sorry, Punto.

By this time in the evening, it was time for the second PremPlus game of the day. I had caught the opening moments and second half of the West Brom versus Chelsea game. I must say the moments silence in memory of Peter Osgood was impeccably observed by all. While he was a footballer from a different era, I recall some of his recent interviews on television, particularly towards the end of last season when Chelsea won the league after a 50-year dormant spell. Osgood is Good and he surely will be missed. The game came to life in the second half and perhaps more for the disagreement on the touchline than just the action on the pitch. Unfortunately, the second billing did not live up to the same level of entertainment with Liverpool playing out a goalless draw with Charlton. I was looking forward to Match Of The Day in the evening. Although had a feeling inside that the better games would be saved for the Super Sunday. None that I would be able to catch live.

You could not have failed to notice Alan Hansen receive a phone call during the live show (what a boring ring tone!) It was hilarious, particularly considering some of the comments that the ex-Liverpool defender has made about the current Arsenal team. I managed to find the clip on YouTube.

Hello Alan

Waking up this morning, my Mum informed me it had been snowing overnight. I opened up my blind and looked at the garden, it was covered white, but the snow had not settled and looked quite thin. Nothing to worry about, it was not going to spoil the day. The sun was gleaming and it looked that it would be wonderful if a somewhat cold day. My Sunday has it panned out would be far busier than my Saturday. First, we had to head over to Reading, the Gurdwara to be precise. Pav had invited me and my family along to the path recitation to celebrate his sister’s 21st birthday. We left the house a little later than I had hoped but made up the time on the by-pass. By 9.30am, we were in Reading, parked up and walking to the temple. I had to take some evasive manoeuvres in the car, almost missing the turning. The one-way system and residential parking meant I had to find a spot quickly or have to drive around again. Within seconds of switching off the engine, I looked up to see Pav pull up in his M3. Talk about perfect timing.

I had to rush back, it was getting late and I needed to be in Wycombe for the cup final at 3pm and was desperately running out of time. Called Chris at 13:46, when I was on the road, explaining that it would be about half an hour before I got to Henley. Then he was to follow me in his beautiful red Leon over to Wycombe. I opted to go back on the by-pass, only because it enabled you to hit higher speeds and potentially overtake some of the slow Sunday drivers out on the road for their weekly stroll. As I pulled onto the A404, the CD switched to play the live version of ‘Take On Me’ and I watched the clock ticking away. Would we make it in time? There was not even time to change, just grab the tickets from my room and head straight back out. I took a long sigh as I stepped into the courtesy SEAT vehicle, finally able to take the weight off my feet, after a draining morning. We were on our way to Causeway Stadium. Though it was fast approaching the 3pm kick-off and we were stuck in traffic up New Road. Thankfully I spotted a free space in the car park of one of the industrial office complexes and Chris quickly threw his car in the spot before we walked over to the stadium, overtaking on foot, our original spot in the queue. The game had already kicked off, as we entered the half-empty (or half full) ground. The clock showed five minutes played, as we took our seats. The lack of support in the away Dreams Stand meant we could sit almost wherever we liked but opted to still occupy seats 90 and 91, in block D but in row G instead of E. The view was reasonable and the score was still goalless. Almost immediately our attention was drawn to the tiny Michelle Hickmott playing at left-back. She was so small that her number three shirt looked extra large in size. Standing in the goal post to defend an Arsenal corner, she did not even make it to half the height of the post. Proves that no matter your stature, you can, with great determination, make it in the game. The game was played at a high pace, although the women were not as technically gifted as their male counterparts. Arsenal easily had the lions share of the possession but could not find an opening. It was Charlton that made them pay for their missed chances, Aluko lobbed the keeper with a great individual goal which was scored at the empty Jewson stand. Totally against the run of play, you would expect this to be the wake-up call to the Gunners, but instead, it was Alex Scott who lost the ball in her own half after some persist backtracking by the Charlton midfielder Sarah Snare (who sounds strangely similar to the cartoon character from The Raccoons) and the leaders pounced again. Same scorer, number 9. Two-nil down at the half time, I did not think Arsenal could get back into it, unless they came out with something different after the interval. The long queue for the tuck shop meant we missed the opening few minutes of the second half, waiting in the cold, while people ahead waited over ten minutes to be served some chips. The second half saw more Arsenal pressure but little product, until out of nothing really, when Julie Fleeting broke through the Athletic defence to pinch a goal. The thrilling finish never materialised and Arsenal will kick themselves for letting this one get away, particularly since they controlled the game for such great periods. It was some lapses in concentration that lead to the goals and ultimately the better team won on the day. We didn’t stay for the award ceremony, infarct we left a few minutes before the final whistle to get a clean exit to the car. They say the Women’s game has a long way to go. Judging just by the quality of the paper-thin match day programme, I can tell you it will take decades for it to reach the same popularity and status of the men’s game. The lack of exposure meant this fixture was off the radar for most people when all it required was a quick blog on sports radio or sports television. The pitiful attendance of 3506 was a joke considering the £5 tickets, major concessions and group discount of £1 for groups of fifteen or more. Perhaps even giving away tickets to some of the local schoolchildren would have been a good idea. Adam’s Park has a capacity of 10,000 and you would expect with so many English internationals on show, the gate receipts are not at least double.

Have I missed something out? Yep, there is plenty more I need to write about, including the experience of my new ICE setup. Suppose that will have to wait for the next instalment, sometime later this week.

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