Where to watch the rugby in London?

Right then. It’s a big one tomorrow for the Rugby World Cup Final. Me and my mate have come up with what we consider to be a definitive list of must-haves for a venue in London:

1) Pub atmosphere. A pub, then.

2) Reasonable quantity of South African supporters, but no more than 50%. And that includes those behind the bar.

3) Decent Guinness, and not the extra-cold filth

4) Decent Youngs, Adnams or other draft and a fine selection of snackage

5) Not massively packed. Yeah, ok – stupid request

6) Easy access to outside for the socially retarded smokers like me

7) Oh, and a TV would be useful too

8 ) Unattached ladies to court. Sloanies need not apply. (No funnies about Soho please)

The O2 centre was mentioned but I’m not going all that way. I want it to be central in case we lose and need to drink into the wee hours. In fact, that applies for both eventualities.

So come on – by this time tomorrow I want a choice of at least 10 ideas.

Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe

Nothing to do with cricket but worthy of mention. Charlie Brooker has a weekly rant at the ridiculously vacuous world of television and celebrity, and damn fine it is too. I’m all for sarcasm and cynicism, especially when it pokes fun at TV’s crapness.

I happened to see a man being chased by a hoody wielding a fishing net the other day. Even for Shepherds Bush, this was out of the ordinary…until I saw it on Brooker’s show. Curiously, having realised they film a lot of it in the same building in which we used to work, I can now see they do a lot of sketches in the lifts, balconies and bar of the Shepherds Building (which is in some way rather ironic, considering his distaste for tacky television…)

Anyway, it’s on BBC Four and worth a gander I reckons.

Richard and Judy, the librarians of Britain

That’s it. I’ve had enough of bookshops. I used to enjoy browsing through them a few years ago, looking up new authors as well as “staple diet” writers who I’ve enjoyed. But the shopping experience in today’s bookshops is overwhelmingly tacky and, well, just overwhelming. Most stores seem to have these tables, with titles piled high, underneath a sign: “our favourites this month” and inevitably there are at least two copies of Paolo Coelho’s wistful musings, and other authors (all of whom seem to share the title of “genius”…) writing about abused Russian alcoholics and Ukranian tractors.

I couldn’t see anything new or particularly exciting, so meandered over to fiction – not my favourite place. And there, emblazoned in yellow and pink and other sickly garish colours, was a stand suggesting five or six books as recommended by Richard and Judy. Good God alive.

Has society plummeted to such literary-ignorant depths that we have to rely on an overpaid, smug TV couple as our national librarians? I only looked at one title – it had a blue cover and, yes, I liked the picture – and, rather inevitably, it was all about a widower and how he’s coping. No surprise there then. I’m not here to judge the quality or writing of the books’ authors – I’m sure they’re very good books – but why the hell are we relying on two celebrities to help us choose what to read? One man’s favourite is another man’s draught excluder.

I very nearly ventured over to the sports section to read a cricket book (spit). Fortunately I found something, after an hour trying to avoid all the arrows and signs and posters demanding I buy THIS book and THAT one: London Pub Reviews by Paul Ewen, a New Zealander who’s written of his experiences and the people he’s come across in some of the capital’s pubs. Perhaps an odd choice for a trip to India, where I’m off to tomorrow, but at least it’s not on Dickhead and Booby’s list…

Anagram fun: Olympic Games

I’m a bit of a wordsmith, and enjoy the weird anagrams you can come up with. Jenny T of Cricinfo fame just texted me possibly the best I’ve heard in a while, from the latest Private Eye.


Superb. The Eye is a British institution and should be knighted, or something.

Video of Iron Maiden at Brixton, June 24, 2007

Sorry for lack of posts lately. This is why:

It was rocktacular, epic and sweaty. The only possible link to cricket this post has is, after the gig, Miller and I decamped in the nearest pub and met a very old Jamaican and slightly younger Jamaican. Cricket was discussed, among other things…

Excuse me, there’s a bug in my turkey

26% of the British population, an estimated 16m people, shop at Tesco every week and I am one of them. Generally, I think it’s a reasonable shop and I’ve never had any ill effects or need to complain. Until today.

Shopping for a culinary extravaganza later this evening I browsed the turkey. It’s all pre-packaged and all looked fine, until a customer next to me started laughing and pointing at one of the packets. There was a bug in it. He was a tourist here on holiday, and found the whole experience very amusing. I’m not sure where he was from, but he didn’t seem to particularly care, and grabbed the next nearest one.

Naturally, I kicked up a fuss on his behalf. After last week’s Panorama investigation into out-of-date food (and other horrors) prepared at both Tesco and Sainsbury’s, I was pretty shocked. The bug appeared to have wings but, from what I could see, had embedded itself into the turkey. God knows where it had been before it landed on this particular strip of exquisite meat.

Tesco’s response was revealing and encouraging. The bloke I approached was absolutely shocked and went into a mild panic, telling me he had to find his manager. “I’m meant to report this, I’ve got to report this,” and so he did. 10 minutes later the manager had been coaxed down from his office onto the floor who was very, very wary of me indeed but apologetic and assured me it would be looked into. According to him, it will be sent away for testing. What about all the other food there? He was less certain – and of course, there’s not a lot Tesco can do short of issuing a public health warning that some meat bought on May 27 from Hammersmith might be infected or contaminated. And they won’t do that unless absolutely necessary for fear of eating into their vast profits.

The manager ordered all of “that batch” of food be taken off the shelf, but the damage has already been done. The shop was closing, the bought food now winging its way across London into people’s kitchens. No one will be any the wiser and, if someone is ill, then so be it.

It was a lesson though. I tend to pick stuff up, make sure it’s not blue or green etc and hopefully find something that isn’t coated in fat, and that’s that. But to see an actual bug, a fly, nestling in the meat…it does make you think.

Stumps in London

Stumps on a wall in London…

I don't Like Cricket


…and cricket in Mumbai

Street cricket in London

It’s more common to see street cricket from the alleys of Pakistan or India, but here’s a game being played in London:

Street cricket in London

Let’s start a revolution. (photos found at Guy Atherton’s Flickr)

Cricket on an ice rink in London

There was a charity match to raise funds for the Ben Hollioake Fund this morning, on an ice rink outside the Natural History Museum. It was as bizarre as it sounds. All the photos I took were useless apart from this which at least has some colour on what was a very grey, wintery morning:

Cricket on an ice rink outside the Natural History Museum

There are a few others at Cricinfo.

Here’s one taken with my mobile

Cricket on ice