Archive for September, 2007

Just returned from the local supermarket and am exhausted. Not because I don’t like shopping. I love wandering the aisles; one which is full of cured legs of ham, or the fish stall with its live crabs and lobsters and array of fish as ugly as they are tasty: cherne, vieja, rape, dorada (monkfish – quite the ugliest sister of the bunch) octopus, squid, cuttlefish and things stuck to rocks which I’ve no idea what they are, or what you do with them, as well as a whole host of other characters. The meat section is equally intriguing and visiting friends, used to the non-animal appearance of meats in a British supermarket, are suitably horrified at the sight of whole small skinned piglets, rabbits, pigs’ ears, sheep ears, trotters, tongues and tails.
The interesting thing about this supermarket, the size of a small village, is that the ready-meal section doesn’t even fill half an aisle and consists of a few pizzas and a selection of frozen empanadas. This is still a country which actually cooks.

Anyway, the reason that today was different than other visits was that it was ‘todo a 1 euro’ time. This means a huge area of the supermarket is given over to aisles full of all manner of bits and bobs, all priced 1 euro. This ingenious marketing ploy brings in people from all over the valley; it’s like the first day of the January sales. People pushing and shoving to fill their baskets and trolleys with the ‘treasures’ on offer. When my father-in-law, Gerry visited, he loved ‘todo a 1 euro’ days. Being Irish, he was like a kid in a sweet shop at the idea of all the bargains to be had. He would fill his basket with items that he ‘desperately needed’, most of it junk that would never be touched again. Although it isn’t really fair to mock him, I’ve been seduced myself and have forked out my euro for such diamonds as secateurs which struggled to cut a blade of grass, head torches whose beam would struggle to get you to the light switch in a darkened room and batteries whose lives are exhausted by the effort of being taken out of their packet. On the other hand I’ve also bought a nifty hand held tree saw and…and…actually, I can’t remember anything else useful.
Gerry died last year and I miss him. I miss the enthusiasm that he had for life and the world, even at 75, but every time the supermarket holds a ‘todo a 1 euro’ day, I see him rummaging through the boxes, eyes bright like an excited schoolboy. The signs might say that everything’s only a euro, but to me they’re priceless.


So it would seem. Didn’t see the game so don’t know if we were as bad as some reports suggest. However the Carling Cup has long been a good way to blood in the younger members of the squad. This time they weren’t good enough, but every cloud has a silver lining and all that. This result hopefully will have taught the younger lads, and reminded some of the more experienced members of the team, a serious lesson; that the taste of defeat isn’t pleasant. I would rather this happened in this cup than any other. We got beat – end of story.

The Man Who Cheated Death

Posted: September 26, 2007 in Life, Poetry, Shocking Poetry, Writing
Tags: , , ,


He’ll come again tonight, I’m sure.
Skulking in the shadows, just out of reach,
Just out of sight.
I say ‘he’; only a male could be so cruel, so random,
So unsympathetic to pleas and bargaining.

The waves crash on the shore,
Drowning the high pitched excitement of the mosquitoes.
Like him they also want their pound of flesh.
I swallow the chilled vodka in one and judder slightly at the taste.
Am I trying to banish him to the shadows?
Or welcome him into the light?

I’m not afraid of him, he can’t touch me
I’ve cheated him.
But still he comes most nights, taunting me,
Until the cheap spirits confuse me,
And I can’t tell him from the shadows of the palms.

The waves roar, seducing me with their siren’s song,
And I realise they’re bringing his whispering words.
The impotent omnipotent is here.
He circles me, whispering half heard words on the light breeze.
Words that rearrange themselves inside my brain,
To form familiar names.

He waits for a response,
“Are you still wearing that black cloak…” I shout.
“…in this heat?”
I laugh out loud; too loud.
The boys around the bonfire on the sand look up,
Eyes wide and white.
Are they scared of him, or scared of me?

He’s not really interested in me.
I’m not really interested in me.
But he does want to hurt, doesn’t he always?
To see me broken and begging,
Long before it’s my turn.

That’s just the way it is, isn’t it?
One by one, he comes for the people you love.
Until you crack,
“No more; take me before you take another.”
Pleas which fall on deaf ears…normally.

Normally, but not for me.
I’ve outsmarted the bastard.
Cocooned all those I love in a shell of immortality,
And boy is he furious?

A petulant act, beneath him…
No, actually, exactly in character.
Because he couldn’t touch mine,
He left another on my doorstep,
Like a cat bringing his limp prize.

A fisherman’s boy, bloated and blue.
Washed up on the pale sand.
An offering if you like,
‘If I can’t have yours, I’ll take another’s.’

So mine all live on, exactly as I left them.
I know where they are and what they do,
That has never changed,
But they don’t know where I am,
Whether I’m dead or alive.
So, no letters, no phone calls, no emails.
No bad news.

My father, mother, brother, friends and lovers,
Each one happy, healthy full of life,
Out of his grasp, as long as I breathe.
I’ve got him beat and he knows it.
One day he’ll have to come for me,
Until then, they’re safe…
In my head.

I sink another vodka and he blends into the night.
I’m not foolish enough to believe I’m his only project.
I laugh again, but there’s no mirth,
Only doubts.
I’ve cheated death,
And he’ll never let me forget the price.

For the first time this season, I felt the testosterone levels rising courtesy of a Londoner in the bar who announced a few minutes into the game:
“Manchester are always awarded penalties at Old Trafford if anyone so much as sneezes in the direction of one of their players.”
Oh Yeah? And this from a Chelsea supporter?
As it happened he wasn’t actually a Chelsea supporter. The ones who rile you never are supporters of the other team, they’re always people who hide under the guise of being a neutral and say things like ‘I don’t care who wins…’
I’ve discovered that this statement over the years is said much in the same way as people say ‘I’m not a racist…’  That one’s always followed by a ‘…but’, the other is always followed by “…but if I had to chose, I’d want Manchester united to lose.’
Course they would and that makes it all the sweeter when we win. Am I interested in a harsh sending off? Not in this case; this was Chelsea after all – a team no stranger to favourable refereeing decisions. However, let’s not get carried away by one decision. By that time we’d been denied a clear penalty, so swings and roundabouts. And where Mikel was unlucky, Joe Cole probably should have walked for his lunge at Ronaldo.
To be fair to Chelsea, they played well, even when down to ten men, although the lack of sportsmanship in not passing the ball back when Rio put it out was beneath them (I know there are new guidelines, but that’s not really the point). The best thing about the game, apart from the result, was that we put in our most assured performance of the season. There was confidence again and Carrick showed some of the touches which made him so important to Spurs. Glad to see Tevez get off the mark (the other one really doesn’t count), that should do his confidence the world of good. All in all, a very satisfying afternoon; I wonder if Jose enjoyed it?

I know how Rooney, Saha, Tevez et al feel. Like them I’m not match fit. Canal +’s loss of rights to screen English premiership games has meant that my season has gotten of to a stuttering start; there are obvious parallels here.
I’ve no idea how we played against Everton; of course I’ve read the BBC match report, but in true Man U fan fashion I subscribe to the conspiracy theory that anyone who doesn’t actually support us can’t be trusted to write an unbiased report. So with fewer games under my belt than I’d like, I didn’t feel ready for European opposition during until the second half – see parallels again.

I keep reading that Sporting aren’t top notch opposition, but, as the Norwegian bloke across the bar from me gleefully pointed out last night, at this level there are no easy teams.
The pitch was terrible, however it didn’t seem to affect Sporting, who passed the ball around with skill and flair and would have scored a storming goal if it hadn’t been for Van der Sar. Sir A had done a good psychological job on the referee who was ‘overly fair’ to us, although his rather harsh booking of Romagnoli did stop the Lisbon players from hitting the ground if any one near them so much as looked in their direction.

Despite improving in the second half, we still look as though there’s a vital spark missing. Thank goodness then for the boy wonder, who once again rose above the mundane. If anyone was going to score it was going to be him and didn’t he do it with dignity and respect for his former team who, in turn, reciprocated with a standing ovation when he was substituted. Well done Lisbon – respect.

Just have to say congrats to Rangers; nice to see another British club winning.
Oh…and a special thanks to Roman Abramovich for taking the first steps in returning Chelsea to mid table mediocrity.

The ‘Soft’ Sell

Posted: September 20, 2007 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: ,

Every time I travel around Tenerife, I invariably see something that leaves me with my jaw on the pavement.

Yesterday I was in Los Cristianos when I spotted a classic. A menu board outside a Brit bar offered the usual array of bar meals that you used to find in pubs in the UK 15 years ago, but the last line on the board, the USP so to speak, had me on the floor.

“We have quality toilet paper” It announced.

Apart from the fact that it’s a bizarre claim, and I may be out of touch here, I’m not sure I know anyone (thank god) that would choose a place to eat based on the softness of the toilet paper.

Somebody please tell me it’s only a joke.

I’ve just seen the strangest thing in my local supermarket; black tomatoes. At first I thought that they were just some dodgy looking normal tomatoes which had the black death, or something, but closer inspection identified them as something called a ‘kumato’.

Now these guys aren’t the most appetising looking of fruits; in fact they looked like something that had been dreamt up in some mad scientist’s lab, but hey, I’m all for trying new foods so I bought one (one might seem a bit measly, but the cost of one was about the same price as a kilo of the normal ruby red ones).

With some trepidation, I bit into it expecting to taste something that was a cross between a tomato and a kiwi fruit – that’s what I’d decided it was. I’ve since checked on the internet and found that the black tomato has been around for a long time, apparently it was discovered in the Ukraine and brought to Russia by soldiers after the Crimean War.

So what did it taste like? After much rolling it around in my mouth, nibbling it and sucking it I came to the conclusion that it had the flavour of… a tomato.

Bit of a disappointment really; however, I’ve got big hopes for next week when I’m planning to try the cauli-tato.