Blog Life

England – born to lose?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Oh my prophetic soul. What did I say yesterday, ‘plucky losers’? 120 minutes of football and 14 penalties later, that looks to have been about right. Brave and committed as England were, they lacked the skill and ambition of Portugal, and weren’t helped by the dodgy referee and the injury to Rooney.

It seems my adult life has been punctuated by the England football team losing on penalties in important competitions. We think it suits us, that we’re dogged and sturdy, but I think it just lets us off the hook.

It’s as if, if we really tried and went all out for a win, and believed we could do it, and then failed, that would be much worse. Because we’d put everything into winning, and come up short.

But last night’s display was all about putting everything into not losing – hanging on to a 1-0 lead because we somehow thought we weren’t good enough to go and get some more goals.

It’s like Tim Henman – doomed to lose in another Wimbledon semi-final – just good enough, but not too good. It’s what we tell ourselves about ourselves – it would be rude to be too good.

Contrast the Australians, whose utter professionalism and competitive nature shows in whatever sport they try. No wonder there’s a crop of excellent sprinters among Aussie cyclists – no other discipline requires such a pure desire to win at all costs.

I notice this English curse in myself – the appeal of settling for being the slightly aggrieved also-ran, rather than being as obnoxious and arrogant as necessary to achieve something great. But the England rugby team somehow managed to get themselves to think in such an Australian fashion that they beat them at home with the last kick of the game to win the World Cup, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.

(photo: football unlimited)

Posted by David in • Life

Accidental Pilgrim Blog

AP on Amazon

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Good news – The Accidental Pilgrim is available on So folks in the UK and further afield can get it delivered to them without much hassle.

Curiously, I’d been talking about it to a friend at lunchtime, and thought I’d have a quick check on the site on the off-chance. And there it was.

If you’ve already got a copy and liked it (or even if you didn’t), it would be great if you could head over there and submit a review – it’s always good for potential buyers to see what others have made of it. I’ve submitted a synopsis and bio and stuff, but it takes a few days to come through on the page.

In other news, I’m knee-deep in boxes and worried over England’s fate in the Euro 2004 tournament. Seems we’re destined to be plucky losers, and I fear the same might happen tonight against Portugal.

Posted by David in • Accidental Pilgrim

Blog Life

Happy Bloomsday

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

So it’s the hundredth anniversary of a set of events that never happened. How suitably Irish.

Dublin is en fete to celebrate the centenary of the day described in Ulysses, and amid the free breakfasts in O’Connell St, the messenger bike races and the people in straw hats and period costume, sometimes it’s not clear why we’re doing this.

Which is fine. It was great to hear Ryan Tubridy try a quick reading from the book on breakfast radio this morning, and who cares if most people getting involved in the celebrations haven’t even read the book?

It was a modest but touching gesture of love for Joyce to pick that day – the day he first went on a date with Nora. A hundred years on, and there are parties in the street over it. Pretty good for a book.

I’m off to wander around in town. Of course.

Posted by David in • Life

Blog Life

The Wicklow 157

Monday, June 14, 2004

Yesterday I rode in the Wicklow 200 – a huge organised ride that sends 1500 cyclists up into the mountains of Wicklow for pain and enjoyment.

The full length 200km option is a lot like a mountain stage in the Tour de France – half a dozen tough climbs and a lot of distance. I’d not been cycling too much in the spring, and reckoned the legs weren’t up to it, so I opted for the 100km shorter and easier version. Although it didn’t quite work out like that.

All was fine as we zoomed down the N11 at seven in the morning, with a Garda car stopping the traffic at the junctions on the way out of town. Amid the hum and whirr of hundreds of skinny road bikes it felt really good to be riding in the large good natured group.

When we turned off the main road after the Glen of the Downs the group swung right at a roundabout, and it really felt like we were a single entity, pouring round the bend.

The first hill broke the unity as the sharp climb saw us labouring in our own discomforts Even with my triple chainring, one twenty yard stretch (watched over by a masochistic photographer) was too much for me, and I reduced to pushing the damn thing.

But I soon remounted, and managed the next hill fine – gravel strewn but longer and more draggy. Up and down again until the sharp climb up to the top of Rathdrum, for food and drink.

We’d done around 60km, so from there it should have been a pretty straight road for me through Laragh, Roundwood and Enniskerry. I knew the 200 and 100 routes divided around Rathdrum somewhere, but the division point wasn’t clear, and I ended up heading out with the 200ers waiting for the split that never came.

Once I reached Glenmalure Lodge I knew that I was on the wrong road, so a call back to HQ confirmed this. Shit – back to Rathdrum, past scores of cyclists flying past me.

The road I should have been on was really pleasant, and the sun came out and I cursed leaving the sunblock behind. Eating and drinking all the way, and feeling in pretty good shape I arrived back at base to be met by Buendia and a certificate.

The short spin home and I was done. 157km in total (as near as dammit to 100 miles), just over seven hours on the bike. Sore legs and burnt arms, but a real sense of achievement.

Posted by David in • Life


The countdown begins

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Not sure it’s been vouchsafed to the fine readers of this blog yet, but myself and Buendia are moving back to the US, and after months of slow progress on the immigration front, it’s finally dawned us that we’re leaving in a month.

Feels like we’ve been pushing a go-kart up a steep hill for ages. But now we’ve reached the top, and it’s just started to pick up speed on the other side. We have to jump in quick and start steering or we’ll crash.

There’s a lot of stuff to do, so when I have a day like today in which very little of substance happened until around 5pm, it makes you very nervous.

I redeemed things by getting stuck in between then and now (9pm), but it’s a rollercoaster of concentration and frustration I could do without.

Now just when do want the movers to come and take all my stuff away and send it to Santa Fe?

Posted by David in
Blog Life

Bachelor Life

Thursday, June 03, 2004

So Buendia’s back in LA for ten days, so it’s just me and cat at home. And this coincided with leaving the day job, so I really am at home all day. And it feels like a weird flashback to three years ago.

I’ve got plenty of work to be doing – working on a report on e-Government benchmarking which is more interesting (to me, anyway) than it sounds. Plus sundry jobs for myself – updating the Accidental Pilgrim site and trying to get my iPod to play nice with my machine (that’s what you get for installing the latest upgrades).

But there’s been more Playstation and Pot Noodle action in the last week than you could shake a student loan form at – i’m regressing.

And it’s kind of fun just for a few days, but I’m glad this is temporary – me and the cat both miss Buendia.

I’ve been taping television programmes for her, but not really enjoying watching anything myself without having her beside me on the couch to talk to. And Arthur the cat didn’t purr for the first few days after she’d gone.

So I’ll try and enjoy my few bachelor days, but really it just confirms that I am, like, _so_ married. Thank God.

[NB: For more Pot Noodle action, specifically the thinking behind the classic (now banned) ‘Slag of all snacks’ Pot Noodle ad, check out this case study from the semiotics consultant who advised Unilever on the campaign.]

Posted by David in • Life