Thursday, 26 May 2016

Just the start of me and you

Sometimes someone is in your life who amazes you. Sometimes that person has been there all your life. Sometimes that person had it in them to do amazing things but just needs a bit of courage and a push to get going.
This weekend my sister will do something amazing, push herself outside of her comfort zone and prove what I always knew about her, how much she can do. So please, take a moment to think and recognise people like my sister.

Some people aren't prepared to put up with mediocrity, but decide to do something worthwhile, for others and for themselves. My sister is one of them.

If you are feeling materially generous, sponsor her here, if you are feeling spiritually generous just take a moment to recognise what it was like the first time you cycled 100km, or ran a 10K, or spoke in front of 50 people, or whatever your own personal barrier was.

Good luck Claire, I know you will do it!

Here's something to keep in your head as you speed through the night.

Friday, 13 May 2016

I've looked everywhere

Fergie said it was "obscene", how we laughed. Then we were relegated


My name is Miklosko, I come from near Moscow
He had no right to make some of those saves,  Schadenfreude was never this good

It was along drive back, but it was worth it

Reo-Coker didn't score that many, but one was enough

But it was to be the last for a long, long time

But nothing can ever beat THAT night
The best of them, the last of them, and I was there.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Fortune's always hiding

As we were walking back to the station after the 4-1 debacle at home to Swansea last Saturday, we bumped into my old friend Mick, also heading for Plaistow tube station. Which is incidentally the nearest tube station to where I was born, in Plaistow hospital maternity unit. In a strange parallel, the unit is being converted into a housing development, the original Victorian buildings torn down, to profit some developer and their hangers-on, which of course includes, in a "crumbs from your table way", me.

I asked Mick if he'd heard that the club were selling us our actual seats for £50. "All my memories are in my head" he replied, echoing my own sentiments. So tomorrow I will be at the Boleyn Ground for one final time, moaning about this and that, enjoying some of it, shouting a bit, and maybe shedding one or two tears for the final time as we concede a hatful of goals in injury time.

And then they'll turn it into a housing development, and the crumbs from the table will be Dimitri Payet scoring a goal in the distance, at a shiny, new taxpayer-funded stadium. For a couple of seasons at least. It all seems a long way from 25th September 1971. Jumpers for goalposts, holding my Dad's hand in case I get lost, oh the good old days.

I could get all maudlin and sad about it, cynical and angry, or look back with rose-tinted spectacles and marvel about what a wonderful place it has been to watch football. But none of it would make a difference. And apart from the friendships I have, the sense of belonging, the weird set of common values and experiences I have gained, the atmosphere of a set of people who go for more than just the glory, the genuine "West Ham way" of playing football, that means we can beat the League leaders one day, and lose 4-1 at home the next, all while trying to play attractive football, well what have the Irons ever done for me?

So in all this, what is most important about tomorrow night, the final match? Do you really need me to answer that question?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

I'm tired of watching all the flowers turn to stone

My last post was read by 245 people, which probably makes it some type of record. If only 10,000 times as many read it and everything else I have ever written. Then I could take a day off every week with the ad revenue I could generate.

But I always said I write this just for me, which of course is true, and generally I enjoy the process. As I was walking out of our office on Friday night I walked down the stairs with a colleague, who asked me, in the way that you do before a Bank Holiday, what I was up to this weekend. When I told him I planned to bike 400km across Wales and back, he asked me why such a long distance?

Now you'd think that would be both a question I answer all the time, as well as one I have a ready answer for. Thinking back on it, the seeds of my ultimate abandonment at Llandovery were already rooted and thriving as I mentally struggled to convince myself there was a valid reason. You see, I have reached a bit of a turning point. Of course I gave him all the usual guff about the camaraderie of Audax, the beauty of the countryside, and the challenge of endurance cycling. All of which are true.

But one of the reasons I gave to my colleague was that I really enjoyed the process of cycling. Well, I'm just about clinging onto that one at the moment.

But, the other reasons? They aren't enough anymore. So when faced with chronic tiredness on Saturday, not helped I'm sure by a hectic week preceding, or an early start to the trip to the Depart at Chepstow, it wasn't hard to convert a 400km ride into a 260km one.

It was still a great day, misty sunrise over the Wye Valley as we cycled up past Tintern, wide open vistas across the Brecon Beacons and the delightful Lord Hereford's knob (it does exist). Even the fight into the wind from Builth to Llandovery had its moments. And once I'd packed, I enjoyed the wind-assisted, if very blast back through Brecon and the Usk Valley. I didn't enjoy my low-speed tumble in front of a Saturday evening audience in Usk itself, or the nice swollen knee that didn't help on the climb towards Chepstow.

But I was home for Match of the Day. Instead of breakfast. A part of me misses the beauty of night-time cycling, but honestly, I'm so wrecked today from 260km that I know I might not have made it. I'd certainly not have enjoyed it.

So what am I to do? My cycling form is off the pace, my Randonneur round the Year has gone, and I don't think I'm in a fit enough state to go for the Bryan Chapman in a fortnight. So no Super Randonneur for me either this year. Worse, my motivation is falling off a cliff, and my one great strength, the ability to persist, seems to be deserting me. On bike rides at any rate.

What is to be done?

I feel about like those deluded Arsenal fans, calling for change when in reality I probably should be more grateful. I can cycle long distances, albeit less than I have set out to of late. I'm relatively healthy, fit, devastatingly attractive and incredibly funny. I get to watch London's best football team, and I have a great family and circle of friends.

What is the problem? I don't know, but right now my soul feels like this.