Friday, 27 November 2009

On Rugby

I don't want to turn this into a sports blog but......

Even out here, you can't miss the Autumn internationals.  African Media is so dominated by South African product and South Africa so dominated by rugby that it is easier to catch the full calendar of fixtures here than back home in chilly London.

Mother moustache was visiting so I asked her to bring a selection of rugby print, to see what Brian Moore, Mick Cleary and the eminent mr Stephen Jones were banging on about.  Brian Moore was candid about his opinions clearly a man out to sell his talents rather than offer real insights into the game; I think he's be honest about that.

It was Stephen Jones who attracted my attention with his byline in Rugby World

"STEPHEN JONES rugby correspondent of the Sunday Times for more than 20 years, is one of the sport's most outspoken and influential journalists"

A little pompous perhaps - 

Outspoken, well yes if by that you mean wild innaccurate and blustering much like the tale you can hear in any Ghanaian expat bar of the adventure that we should have had.  Flights of  fantasy are Mr Jones' speciality, he will pilot you through the "widely held consesus" of his own pontification.  "England need 3 wins from 3 nothing less!" - Really?  I mean really really, Autumn internationals mean very little but for world ranking places, I would say they are an excellent place to blood new talent before the real combat of the six nations.  The RWC has changed world rugby there are games that don't need a win just an improvement.  I think Martin Johnson has done well to hold the Good Ship England together, plenty of decisions I didn't agree with but Rugby has become about the long game and the big prize.  Everyone is looking for the cycle or structure that will see their international team be the first to win and retain the RWC.  I think the Autumn internationals have done a great deal to strengthen England's strength in depth, we know things we didn't Monye is not a fullback but is a great wing, club form is not international form (Jordan Crane).  England can rise from this tough break and turn it into an impressive six nations tournament. OK tub thumping done!

Oh and Mr Jones if you have been this influencing force for 20 years please stop.  in the last 20 years the game I love has gone from a beautifully balanced sport for all shapes and sizes to the hideous crassness of the Rugby League with better set pieces sport of today.

All the best TMBTM

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

An African Morning

Africa is different in the mornings; I have always loved early mornings. The pre dawn hours spent on airfields loading C130 always held a romance for me that was lost on Corporal “Cold and tired” or Squadron Leader “I could be in the bar”. Whether half light of an rural dawn or the sodium lights of an airfield pan I have always loved early mornings. I am not talking of breathtaking sunrises or rich palettes of oranges, russets and ochres but of the cool quiet breeze of morning.

I chanced an 0530 loading for one of our clients and this afforded me the opportunity to clear Accra before the masses awoke and started to transit to their places of work. In just three junctions and five minutes we were on the highway headed for Tema Port. The air pregnant wit moisture blew briskly over the driver and I as we inhaled the dawn vapours a heady mixture of smoke and tropical dew.

Only the buffeting of the air through the wind disturbed the calm. There were no horns, calls, shouts bells or buzzers. Truckers pulled them selves from under damp blankets and hauled themselves from the relative safety of the area beneath their vehicles. Each rubbing cold limbs stretching and then casually sauntering to the hard shoulder to urinate in to the fronds of vegetation. Small groups gather around billy cans and portable brazier making tea or porridge or some other wholesome start. They seem blissfully unaware of our rapid progression toward Tema. The violent intensity of the Pan African truck driver is lost in the ease of the morning. Already a mother with two toddlers has set up a cooking pot and has hot coals simmering cocao.

As we near Tema the first school children start to appear, it is now 6am; older brothers and sisters escorting younger siblings across the normally busy high way. Men come from the bush hauling up ill fitting jeans having just taken care of their ablutions. Vigorous head rubbing the apparent cure for a night spent in the open. Until now the quite undisturbed and then the first truck rumbles past us, the creak and groan of an old chassis unwillingly lugging a 40ft container; but still no horns just a view of an Africa without guile; innocently risen from its slumber.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Ghana Week 2 - an extract from a letter to friends

Ghana or perhaps Accra is not a place to make you wax lyrical. Any semblance of cultural diversity has been swamped by Diageo, Coca Cola and a host of other corporations. Yes the folk are a little darker, the waits for service a little longer and the temperature a little warmer but it is a city, cosmopolitan in place deprived in other and dour in many. Yesterday we opened tunnel Charlie and headed for Aburi and the mountains, there sits atop these mountains the Botanical Gardens opened by His Excellency Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings, appears a Flt Lt can go a long way in this place. NOw this is not Kew Gardens or really any other Botanical Garden I have found around the world, but it was a cool calm haven from Accra with many different types of tree all carefully described in faded white lettering on blue painted tins signs. Including a tree planted by HRH ER on her visit in 1961, Laura mused whether HRH would remember it, I like to believe she does. The buildings have the air of cherished but aged grandparents, loved yet slowly slipping away, the post colonial decay has obviously been hard to arrest, mosses and lichens creep slowly across once immaculate white painted balustrades. 1960s concrete terraces now erupt with vegetation as the botanical claims back it's forest roots.

From the Botanical Garden to Hillburi, a quiet resort (no accomodation) - it reminds me of the hill top stations of the empire. Not in design or grandure but of feel. Carefully sitiuated above the malaria line an afternoon of Pimms and good food can be had reasonably inexpensively whilst looking over the petit jungle of the hillsides of Aburi and Peacadu. There is a pool with a daily lounging charge and divertions such as table tennis and pool and in times past it may have been decribed as a amost agreable place. Fortunately the prejudices of 1909 are long gone and Ghanaian and ExPat dine side by side although sadly I feel the ghost of times past in the manner in which both communities brush past each other with no acknowledgement. Maybe this will change when the generations who knew it are gone.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

On The Buses

"I 'ate you Butler", who can forget Blakey miserable old mac wearing bus inspector from the series On the Buses. Everyone loved Reg Varney's Butler and no one who saw his sister Olive could ever call their daughter Olive just too many associations. But this is not the comedy that I am talking about.

The comedy I am talking about is the war of words erupting between atheists and christians on the buses of London, Manchester and probably half a dozen other metropolitan centres.

"There probably is no God, so stop worrying about it and enjoy yourself" - sponsored I believe by the human society.

"The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." " wades in the Trinitarian Bible Society - in a direct if literal and some might say out of context quote from Psalm 14.

It makes me laugh that we are carrying out the theology for a generation mixed amongst Tampax and Diesel clothing adverts on the sides of buses. I find it strange that Atheists employ so much time try to convince us that God doesn't exist. I don't believe in Santa but don't feel it necessary to prove to anyone else that he isn't real and the "Peter Pan probably didn't exist don't think happy thoughts and try to fly" bus is sorely missing.

For the sake of an even critique I have to say I have seen better sales pitches than the Trinitarian - YOU FOOL - you don't believe!!!!

I fully endorse any discussion which brings anyone, just one, to a greater understanding of who they are and why they are here. SO good on the Human Society, The trinitarians, Alpha International ....and the list goes on.

I think the question is there a God is a strange one to ask straight up. We have a concept of God and that is true as we are all arguing about it on the buses - surely the question we are actually asking is do we care? Judging by the amount of advertising on buses I would say we do - even the atheists!

If we then we do care if there is a God perhaps we should look for who, not whether, God is. I mean in looking for a life partner do we look for whether they exist or who they are? We might doubt from time to time that they exist when we are at a low ebb but we continue to seek out who they are. Believe me even when you get married you continue the voyage of looking for who your life partner is - my thought is that if we started applying this to God we'd all be a lot closer to knowing who God is and not worried about whether he is.

Apologies to all devotees of the wonderful British Comedy on the Buses, I loved it too!! Try Nick Nack Blog Attack for on the Buses Triv!!