Are there any Sanmarinese in London?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm hoping that my next football with the foreign fans match will be San Marino playing Northern Ireland, on Sunday. But the question is - where are the Sanmarinese?

I know there's at least one - he or she has set up a greasy spoon in Brixton. But the man working there wasn't from San Marino, and didn't know where I'd find them.

San Marino

Today, I went to the London address of the San Marino Consulate General - but it turned out to be the bloke's apartment. (In Chelsea too, which is fancy.)

My one remaining option is someone called Walter - the chaps on the World in One City blog found him running a cafe near Oxford Street, so I'm hoping he'll be supporting his nation.

EDIT: Walter's cafe was not there, and this match wasn't even on. I can't read a calendar, it seems.

Fotball! Football with London's Norwegian fans

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I joined Norwegians last night to watch Norway -v- Netherlands. London's Norwegian church, in Rotherhithe, is a remnant of seafaring times when Norwegian sailors needed solace. Yesterday, the church laid on solace of a different kind with football and a tasty meal.

I had meatballs, peas and potatoes followed by a waffle pancake and jam. Yum.

Meal at London's Norwegian church

The audience was primarily men. Of the few women, most didn't seem interested, texting on their phones etc. One woman was - wearing a red football top and matching red shoes. The men weren't that impressed by her though, as she chatted on her phone and coughed loudly. There were cold stares.

Norwegian football fans, London

All in all though, it was a very polite affair - as you might expect in a match between two of the world's most liberal nations. Only twice did the Norwegians get excited with a whooping cheer and a dramatic plea. Otherwise, they sat placidly watching the match. You'd never think they were descendants of the Vikings.

Norwegian football fans, London

As the match whimpered to an end (Norway lost 1-0), the Norwegians had a little grumble and then went about putting all the plates and cutlery away.

Reborn at the Discotheque

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's all gone very butch / intellectual around here, what with my football and artsy excursions.

Time, then, for some camp pop fabulosity. Elin Lanto - she of Money (Show me what it takes to be a real rich bitch!) - is back with Discotheque. It's v. Alcazar, with big hair, amazing boots and hand-claps.


Nogomet! Football with London's Slovenian fans

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I said the Slovenes were elusive, and they were. Until Saturday noon, I had nothing more than 'go to Sports Bar; hope to see a Slovene'. Then, Mox (great name!) of the London-Slovene facebook and Yahoo! groups came to the rescue with the Famous 3 Kings in West Kensington.

The bar turned out to be full of fans - Russian fans, German fans, French fans, Czech fans, Polish fans, Italian fans, Ukrainian fans, and, yes, Slovene fans!

Many screens showed several matches, with fan groups spread out all over. To begin with, just three were watching the Slovenia game. One bloke on his own. Another bloke on his own. And me. On my own. The atmosphere was not electric.

So I bounced off to watch the Czech-Polish match. The Poles were very excited to be winning. The Czechs all had crazy hair - dreadlocks, long red streaked hair, long hair.

Czech football fans, Famous 3 Kings, London
Finally, I saw two Slovenian blokes. It's safe to say they weren't all that interested. One played with his phone, and then looked at the menu. Later, they were chatting animatedly. They even discussed the air conditioning at one point. There were no flags.

Frankly, I don't blame them. It was a boring match. My highlight was seeing a sign saying "Brkini Za Slovenijo" because Slovenijo is an ace word.

When Slovenia scored two flukey goals near the end to win the match, another man celebrated quietly with a smile.

The Russians and Germans were much more excited. The Russians were a mix of trendy types (Dolce & Gabanna hats, coiffed hair) and total hardnuts. The Russians cheered a lot. They even cheered when they lost.

Russian & German football fans, Famous 3 Kings, London
The Germans were giving their "Aus auf Deutschland, something is a doora!" song and the Russians retaliated with "Russ-ki-ja! Russ-ki-ja!". This made up for my not being able to find Russians during Euro 2008.

Later, I stopped off in Piccadilly to take a peek at Kazakh football fans waiting to go into a match after party.

Kazakh football fans, London
It was £20 to get in, so I gave it a skip. Here's what I (most likely) missed - my favourite Kazakh-pop-tune.

Next up! - I was thinking the Belarussians, but I may have a tip for Norwegians on Wednesday, so it'll probably be them.

World Cup 2010 qualifying matches

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Having watched Euro 2008 with the Europeans, I'm going to watch as many World Cup 2010 qualifying matches as I can with Euro-fans. The matches most likely to be shown in London are those with England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, so these will be those I'll see.

The timetable's below, with the match I most want to see in bold. Any tips for finding supporters greatly appreciated! First up, it's Slovenians - although they're proving elusive.

England -v- Kazakhstan
Slovenia -v- Northern Ireland
Scotland -v- Norway
Wales -v- Liechtenstein

Belarus -v- England

Northern Ireland -v- San Marino
Germany -v- Wales

San Marino -v- Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland -v- Poland
Netherlands -v- Scotland
Wales -v- Finland

Scotland -v- Iceland
Northern Ireland -v- Slovenia
Wales -v- Germany
England -v- Ukraine

Kazakhstan -v- England
Azerbaijan -v- Wales

England -v- Andorra

Norway -v- Scotland

Poland -v- Northern Ireland
Scotland -v- Macedonia
FYR Scotland -v- Netherlands

England -v- Croatia
Northern Ireland -v- Slovakia
Wales -v- Russia

Ukraine -v- England
Finland -v- Wales

England -v- Belarus
Czech Republic -v- Northern Ireland
Liechtenstein -v- Wales

Walking through Holland

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I've just finishing reading A Long Walk South by Sean Rothery. It's all about Rothery's walk from Holland to the south of France. It should be fascinating, but it's all a bit dull. Rothery is obsessed with his feet and the surfaces he walks on. Understandable, I guess, but I tend to read travel books to learn about other places.

Two observations stand out - on seeing the tightly packed little weekend retreat bungalows in Holland, he muses that the Dutch are so used to living in densely populated cities and in tall apartment blocks that just being at ground level at weekends, close to their vegetables and flowers, must be their way of connecting with the earth.

Later he encounters a group of people at a hotel - mainly retired - who are taken on coach trips into the countryside where they were given basic meals and then a sales talk for all sorts of household goods.

Overall, though, it all seems quite pedestrian. Certainly, Holland seems nothing like it does in this great video.

How to stop Post Office queues

Thursday, October 02, 2008

According to news yesterday, Post Office queues in London are up to half an hour long.

No great surprise to anyone who has stood in one, as I have. Stood, and seethed and raged and thought how much quicker it could be. (I suspect the Post Office don't want to reduce queues - they try to flog stuff to those in the queue after all.)

Two easy ways to shorten these queues are:

  • Introduce two queues - one for those who just want a stamp, or just want their parcel weighed and posted. And one for those who have 40 minute long queries about their passports, their ATM bank cards, their giros, their whatever-the-hell-is-taking-so-long.
  • Introduce self-service. Londoners are busy, busy people. Tesco, Boots, Sainsburys all recognise this and now let us do your thing ourselves. One post office could have 3 self service weight / postage machines.
Easy, really, isn't it?

Blackfriars Bridge in lasers

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ghost Bridge, by Keith Bowler

Keith Bowler's laser recreation of the Old Blackfriars Bridge (on display until October 19) contains a clever idea: bringing the past back to life with modern technology. And, although it looks nothing like how it should according to this website, it's a pretty compelling sight.

It sets me thinking - imagine a bridge made completely from lasers, or a real bridge with lasers all along its structure, or historical landmarks recreated by lasers - London before the Great Fire, London before World War Two, Berlin before the Wars, the Colossus of Rhodes. How amazing.