Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Home again ... same as ever

... is the sad headline in El Periodico today. The Spanish are so resigned to the failure of the national team that last night's defeat by France was accepted meekly.

That despite having a very justifiable case against Henry's blatant cheating that led to the vital second goal, which in turn was scored by Viera who was lucky to be on the pitch after escaping a second yellow card.

Spain were much the better team against a very negative France who I expect will get walloped by brazil.

We watched the game in Cadaques where the bar was 50/50 Spanish and French. No trouble during the game and absolutely none at the end with the bar emptying in minutes. One can only imagine the deluge of spilt beer, fighting, glassing and trashing in a bar at an England seaside resort after England had lost to France.

so we have a final eight that includes England and France, both of whom have played execrably for most of the time here. As Simon Barnes pointed out in the Times yesterday, football is possibly the only sport where a team can play badly - and worse than their opponents - and win.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Spain or France

Very difficult choice this evening for the last game in the round of 16. Spain - our hosts, playing a wonderful brand of football, or France, origin of some of our very best friends here in Barcelona who are playing almost as badly as England.

I hate to say it but it must be Spain; underachievers who deserve a day in the sun and who get the nod for playing two Barca players to France´s none (they could have had the peerless Giuly but inexplicably left him out).

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Verano! It's official

They are very picky here about what is spring (primavera) and what is summer (verano). Until last week it was spring even though it was hot enough.

Then I came back from London yesterday and lo and behold, it was summer. someone had turned up the temperature by 5 degrees or so and it is now very hot and steamy. the schools have broken up and the children have 11 weeks off. our ground floor flat, which we bemoaned as being chilly in winter without direct sunlight, is now very warm indeed.

A good place to watch the World Cup in London

I was in London last week and went with David Turner for a drink at the ICA ahead of going to a corporate do to watch the england sweden game.

So nice was it there that we stayed to watch the game in the bar and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone at a loose end in town who doesn't fancy the uber white male/ tattoo/beer ambience of every pub in the west end and the city.

The crowd was youngish and almost 50-50 men and women. The woman sitting next to me was a fashion buyer at topshop whose (swedish) boyfriend works in advertising, which just about somes the crowd up. The £1.50 door charge and the isolated location on the Mall keeps the St george flag brigade at bay.

The beer (real Bud from czech republic and not the fizzy piss sponsoring the world cup) was excellent although the food was truly excerable. so eat first.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

dont expect much and you will be rewarded

Spain, unfancied by almost everyone at home, kick off with an impressive 4-0 win over Ukraine

England, the subject of adulatory adoration from every white van and council block, barely scrape a win against Paraguay.

There must be a lesson there ...

Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup fever ... not

While sales of barbecue meat soar and the lager cans hurtle towards the city centre giant screens back home, world cup fever has, um, failed to get feverish here at all.

As mentioned before, Spain are such perrenial under-achievers that nobody has any r confidence of them getting anywhere. On top of that they are too busy celebrating their real winners - Nadal in the tennis and Alonso in the motor racing.

And of course, this is Barcelona, capital of Catalonia. It's not quite as bad as Scotland however, more indifference rather than hatred. My sister's first world cup spent north of the border was rather ruined by the number of locals dressed in Argentine shirts when England played them. It was the same two years ago when a pleasant lunch with a Glasgow financial PR was spoiled by her telling me she would be going home and cheering Croatia on against England that night.

So strong is the position of club football that everything is seen through that lens. So the headlines in yesterday's sports papers was 'Deco makes his debut' (except he didn't and sat on the Portugese bench instead) while the Mexico victory was hailed for the magisterial role played by Deco's Barca teammate Marquez.

Still there are good omens, such as Raul's injury (which avoids the need to actually drop the old donkey on grounds of competence) that might just ensure the national team surprise all and sundry.

Which is more than England managed to do on Saturday. Their opener was only on satellite here (another sign that they don't care that much - only half the games are free to air and that on a new channel that a good part of the country has trouble receiving) so Ben and I trotted around to a quiet local bar to watch.

By half time Ben was asking to go home. So dull was the remainder of the game that I spent most of it chatting with an English neighbour about the local schools and access to the open air swimming pool. We were considering an in depth discourse on the new local constitution - a document about as opaque as one of Sven's game plans - when thankfully the ref blew for full time.

There has been some truly wonderful stuff in the UK papers of which two pieces stand out. Writing about the predictable tediousness of the England performance in the Telegraph, the peerless Jim White writes:
It is what happens every week in the football leagues; it is what those whose emotions have been invested in the game marginally longer than the past three weeks understand. But for this England to play like that is to rub up against the new assumptions. How can the beautiful game be so pragmatic? How can something sold as the richest and most spontaneous of art forms be so mechanical?
Even more coruscating was James Lawton of The Independent loading up his Armalite and giving Sven lock, stock and countless smoking barrels. The opening paragraph give you a taste of the hemlock-soaked script that follows:

Amid another barrage of English excuses for an unacceptable performance there is no escaping a shocking conclusion. It may be harsh but it is unavoidable. Michael Owen's torment has already become Sven Goran Eriksson's cross. It must make you wonder how quickly the crucifixion will follow.
Ouch. Read the rest here. But as a friend at The Indy asks 'What does he say if we win the thing?'

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Have you ever seen the rain?

Right now it's sunny, although today was a little grey (albeit still bright and warm). I like the greyness a lot more-Barcelona feels calmer and more village-like without the sun and extreme heat beating down every day. I'm going through the phase I went through when we first moved here (nearly 10 months ago!) when I miss rainy days and constantly listen to Anthony and the Johnsons.
I know, I know, it's so like me to want rain in June.
Anyway, read my blog- 13,638 visiters can't be wrong! Not that I'm bragging or anything.
Os quiero,

Warhol and Monroe

Those not unconnected twin icons of modern America are both on display in Barcelona at the moment. Rebecca and I went to see a Warhol exhibition this morning at the extraordinarily beautiful Museu Diocesà de Barcelona

What was remarkable was how many of the works were truly 'original' in the sense of being outside his canon of Campbell Soup/Elvis/Monroe multiprints (ok, to me anyway).

His beautiful early 'Gold Book' pen and ink drawings on gold leaf and some amazing minatures of Mick Jagger were among the highlights while Becca craved the Campbell's Soup Dress. Many of the works seemed to come from Galleria Rosini di Riccione in Italy, again unknown to me. Open until 9 July, but the museum, housed in a Roman tower with some stunning 12th century murals, is worth going at any time.

The Monroe exhibition, Marilyn and the Cinema, is on at the majestic Palau Robert, which straddles Avenida Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia, the city's two most grand streets.

It features personal objects, pictures and clothes collected by Maite Mínguez Ricart, a Barcelona woman and is on until 3 September. We'll go there next Saturday when Rebecca's cousin Rose is in town with her parents.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Family Outings

1) With Rebecca (aw, bless) To see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Primavera sound music festival at the Barcelona Forum. Great evening, great music, great venue. For a full report tootle over to Rebecca's blog here, although she has unaccountably omitted to mention the fact that i was present or indeed paid for the tickets.

2) En famille for an early birthday treat for Ben to the water park at Port Aventura, the theme park around 70 miles south near Tarragona. Did he have a good time? Click here to see.

Catalonia says ....

.... nothing as yet. But it looks like the precious Estatut, which gives greater local power to the Catalan government, will be passed comfortably when there is a referendum here on 18 June. A poll in La Vanguardia on Sunday points to a 70% yes vote (backed by the governing Socialist party and the CiU centre-conservative opposition).

The No vote has brought together similarly strange bedfollows. It is backed by the right wing PP (who think it is an outrage that will lead to the break up of Spain) and the pro-independence left-wing ERC (who think it is a weak and watery sellout and were fired from the governing coalition for rejecting it). They have a mere 23%.

The last Estatut was drawn up in 1979 in the wake of Spain's move to democracy. How much has changed here since then? That at any rate is the theme of the CiU's rather tasteful ad campaign '1979 o futur?' shown above.


There is no radio football commentary like Spanish radio football commentary. Click here to listen to some samples of RAC1's finest as they cheered Barca to success this year. John Motson it ain't.

RAC1, which broadcasts in Catalan, is owned by grupoGodo, which also owns La Vanguardia. So what could make more sense than to record a CD of the commentators going crazy throughout the season and pop it free into everyone's Sunday edition. Only here ...