Monday, 28 June 2010

Rugby for tiny tots

Hannah and Robin have received many lovely baby gifts from friends in advance of The Bean’s arrival (due tomorrow). These two I particularly like. Boy or girl, I do not mind, but yes, I do plan to take him/her to rugby so an England Rugby bib and mini-dressing gown were very well-judged.
Well done Patrick Stanier.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

England's Going Home

Germany 4 England 1. "I think we play well..." Fabio Capello

Ghana 2 - USA 1

Well done Ghana, winning the game in extra time and keeping Africa in the tournament. You have also helped me with my flag-recognition. I’ve seen this car parked round the corner from my home and not known which country the flags represent; now I do, and it’s Ghana.

This afternoon it's The Big One: England v Germany, and predicted temperatures of 30 degrees in London. At nine this morning people were walking out of my local Tesco with cases of beer and grub for the barbeque. The papers are full of pre-match coverage, and there is a keen sense of anticipation in the air. And of course there is also Wimbledon, Formula 1, and Glastonbury all over the schedules. Out in the sun and party, or indoors watching the box: it's a tough call.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Well done England (twice)

I’m writing about England rugby here, not the football last Friday in Cape Town (‘shameful’, my neighbour Christie called it). Yes, the England rugby team beat Australia in Sydney on Saturday morning, by only one point but with a fine display of rugby, the like of which we haven’t seen for many years. It is only the third time we have beaten the Aussies on their home turf, the last occasion being at the same stadium on that famous night in November 2003. The final score this time was Australia 20 England 21 and you can see an Australian press report here.

Also on Saturday, England Saxons (our ‘B’ team) made it to the final of the Churchill Cup, played this year New Jersey. England won 38-18.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster said: "It's a fantastic achievement. Three weeks ago we met in a Heathrow hotel with disappointed players not making the senior tour and young players who came in straight from the Premiership and collectively to put all that together and form a team is great, I'm really proud.”

Match report here.

Next Wednesday England play the New Zealand Maoris in Napier. (0830 kick off, on Sky Sports 1 ) and from the televised game I saw this week, when the Maoris beat Ireland 31-28, they will provide very tough opposition. Match report here:

It's quite an exciting time to be a rugby fan!

Friday, 18 June 2010

The fan in your life

They started appearing on white vans about two months ago, and on private cars and black cabs more recently. Now of course the St George’s Cross seems to be everywhere, including every single pub, club, and branch of Tesco/Sainsbury/Asda etc.

The best display I’ve seen so far has been this comprehensive multi-national effort in the window of menswear boutique Present, at 140 Shoreditch High Street: socks displaying the colours of what looks like every nation. More subtle than the pubs, and much more creative, which seems appropriate for Shoreditch.

The socks are Happy Socks, produced by Stephen Wong. He also has a collection of football scarves – in cashmere - for the fan in your life. Go on, splash out on him: it’s Fathers Day on Sunday!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Sunday, 13 June 2010

England “Clueless and Hopeless”

Well I may have claimed below that it’s a great sport, but it was a dismal weekend for most of the Northern hemisphere nations, with Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all playing good winning rugby.

France lost to South Africa 17 - 42

England were shockingly inept, going down 17-27 to the Aussies. “Clueless and Hopeless” says the Sunday Times.

Ireland lost to New Zealand 28 – 66

Only Scotland produced a win against Argentina, 24 - 16

England’s head coach Martin Johnson has for the first time in his two years in charge been harshly critical of his men, perhaps realising that it is no longer sensible to align himself with them. A short paragraph by Robert Kitson in the Observer throws up an interesting statistic:

It is impossible to ignore the stark fact that Brian Ashton was ousted as England's head coach after steering the national team to a World Cup final and presiding over 12 wins and 10 defeats in 22 games. Johnson has also been in charge for 22 games, if you include the two Tests in New Zealand in 2008 when he picked the squad but did not travel. His record reads as follows: Won 8 Drawn 1, Lost 13.

Friday, 11 June 2010

C'mon England

Yes, a great month of sport kicks off this weekend – RUGBY UNION of course.

Tomorrow England play Australia in Perth, Scotland are in Argentina, Ireland face the All Blacks in New Plymouth, on Sunday England Saxons play USA in Colorado, and next week Wales are up against the AB’s in Dunedin. It continues like this through to the end of June. What a great sport it is where fans of all Nations mix and celebrate together.

PS: For those interested in such things, and why not, tomorrow sees the seventh Naked Bike Ride in London. Full details here:

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


Ever wondered what happens to all those unsolicited scripts received by the National Theatre?

The National Theatre, 2nd June

To be serious: the National receives 1500 scripts every year. Read more about the work of their Literary Department here and here:

Beside the seaside

I had an afternoon at the seaside......

...Except that this beach was actually the south bank of the Thames, between Waterloo and Blackfriars bridges.

Tate Old Fashioned

Tate Modern: Ten years old, 5 million visitors a year, and still no cycle racks.


If you call your restaurant Tumbleweed, don’t be surprised if nobody comes to eat and you go out of business.

Seen on the Strand, 2nd June